Getting a strike is much more likely if your ball contacts the pins in “The Pocket”. For right-handed bowlers, the pocket is right in between the 1st and 3rd pins. For a left-handed bowler, the pocket is in between the 1st and 2nd pin. The picture below shows a ball just before impact with the pocket as thrown by a right-handed bowler.
Hitting the pocket gives you the best chance of getting a strike, but there is actually a bit more to it than that.
The angle in which you contact the pocket, the amount of spin the ball has, the core, the shell, etc. All affect whether or not you will strike. Arguably, the most important parts are where on the head-pin your ball first makes contact and the angle in which the ball is traveling upon contact. The oil on the lanes can be a double-edged sword when it comes to hitting the right spot at the right entry angle. Without it, hitting the pocket at the correct entry angle would be nearly impossible, but it also adds complexity to the game.
The area often referred to as the pocket is actually quite large. It’s a controversial topic, but in my opinion, the pocket is ~5 inches wide. For example, a shot thrown straighter may need to hit a bit closer to the middle to get a strike, while a ball thrown with a lot of hook may need to hit further to the outside, although both of these shots would be considered “in the pocket”.
People often get frustrated when they hit the pocket but don’t strike, but it’s important to remember that the pocket isn’t a magical button that drops all the pins, it is a spot on the rack between the 1st and 2nd or 3rd pins that gives you the best chance of getting a strike.
As always, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check out our other tutorials/articles. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, drop a comment below, or feel free to contact me.