Saturday, 13 Jul 2024

Fitness Training for Bowling

Here are some insights from an interview with fitness expert Rob Wood, regarding the significance of fitness in the sport of bowling.

What Makes a Bowler an Athlete?

Bowlers who approach the sport with dedication and take a holistic approach to their training, including having a coach and regular practice, can be considered athletes. Taking their preparation seriously is key to defining them as athletes.

The Importance of Fitness in Bowling

Fitness in bowling is defined by the ability to perform at the required level throughout a whole day of play without any limitations or signs of performance decrement. To determine the necessary physiological demands of bowling, research has been conducted to understand what energy systems are predominantly used, the importance of strength and power, and flexibility requirements.

Enhancing Bowling Achievement through Fitness

Being aerobically fit is crucial for reducing fatigue and maintaining freshness during long periods of play. In tournaments that span several consecutive days, fatigue can impact both physical and psychological performance. Strength endurance is also important as maintaining consistent strength over time is essential for repetitive action. While other fitness components may not necessarily enhance bowling achievement, poor performance in these areas can impair overall gameplay.

Specific Training Programs for Bowling Fitness

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Fitness training for bowlers includes regular assessments to identify strengths and weaknesses. The training program encompasses various areas such as anthropometry, flexibility, strength and power, strength endurance, balance, and aerobic endurance. The focus is on developing aerobic fitness, strength, balance, and flexibility to improve overall performance.

The Expertise Behind Bowling Fitness

Rob Wood is an experienced exercise physiologist at the Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS) in Australia. Although he is not a bowler himself, he has worked with a wide range of sports throughout his career. Since joining the NTIS in 1999, he has been specifically working with elite-level bowlers, conducting research, presenting at conferences, and coaching workshops to contribute to the science of bowling.

The Impact of Fitness on Bowling Performance

While the impact of very high fitness levels on bowling performance is not clear, addressing weaknesses in a bowler’s fitness can significantly influence their performance. Adequate strength is necessary for gripping and generating ball velocity. Improving aerobic fitness beyond a certain threshold may have limited impact, but when a bowler’s fitness level falls below this threshold, their performance can be negatively affected, especially during later parts of tournaments.

The Benefits of Fitness in Bowling

Recreational bowling may have limited fitness benefits, equivalent to walking the dog. However, focused fitness training with the aim of overloading the body can result in improvements. Fitness training for bowlers extends beyond physical conditioning, providing a professional approach and a competitive edge over opponents.

The Growing Awareness of Fitness in Bowling

The success of the NTIS bowling program and the achievements of bowlers at the national level have brought attention to the importance of fitness training. While some parts of the bowling community may be reluctant to embrace fitness training, the younger generation of bowlers is more exposed to the professional approach and is likely to adopt it. National bodies like Tenpin Bowling Australia have high-performance programs that emphasize physical preparation, along with medical, nutritional, and psychological support.

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Measuring the Impact of Fitness on Bowling

Although improvements in bowling scores resulting from physical fitness training are difficult to measure and prove, there are indications of a relationship between certain fitness parameters and bowling scores. However, more specific studies are needed to demonstrate the direct impact of fitness training on individual bowlers’ scores.

The Most Important Aspects of Fitness for Bowlers

Grip strength, balance, core control, flexibility, and aerobic fitness are all essential for bowlers. Training programs should address each of these areas based on an individual’s current level in each component and focus on improving weaknesses.


Q: How can fitness training improve bowling performance?

A: Fitness training can improve bowling performance by reducing fatigue, maintaining freshness, enhancing grip strength, balance, and flexibility, and ensuring adequate aerobic fitness.

Q: Is recreational bowling beneficial for fitness?

A: Recreational bowling has limited fitness benefits but can still contribute to overall health. To make significant fitness improvements, bowlers need to push themselves beyond the usual demand.


Fitness is a crucial aspect of bowling performance. Bowlers who approach the sport professionally, with holistic training programs that address fitness, experience numerous benefits. These include reduced fatigue, improved grip strength, balance, and flexibility, and the ability to maintain freshness throughout tournaments. Fitness training is gaining recognition within the bowling community, and there is growing awareness of its value. Although the direct impact of fitness on bowling scores is difficult to measure, there is evidence to suggest a positive relationship between certain fitness parameters and overall performance.

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