Johnson's legs start to tremble," said an old rival who no doubt felt that
he had followed in Johnson's quake once too often, "I don't like to bowl
against him. I know he's got that winning feeling." Since mid-1969 very few
people have enjoyed competing against the Akron professional. In that time he
has won 13 PBA championships and nearly $200,000 in prize money. His career
totals are 19 wins and $318.149. second only to Dick Weber on the alltime
lists. Last December and January Johnson was nearly the perfect kegler. He won
four PBA events, was named 1971 Bowler of the Year and, at 32, was easily the
best bowler of his generation.
serious bowling at 14 in his hometown of Kokomo, Ind. when he realized that he
never would be tall enough to play basketball or big enough for football. Nine
years later he was a regular on the PBA tour. He is at his best when the
pressure is greatest and he attributes much of his success to instinct.
"It's no accident that Weber and I are one-two," he says. "We both
have the ability to make those last-second corrections that are the difference
between strikes and disaster. That is something you can't learn. If you read a
bowling book and then watched me, sometimes you wouldn't think I was a
Don't believe it.
By watching Johnson you can learn plenty. On the following pages he describes
the perfect delivery, tells how to convert four of the most common
spares—though each bowler must adjust for his own delivery—and discloses the
seven-point checklist that helped make him a consummate bowler and, with plenty
of practice and concentration, will make a better one of you.
"Be a spot
bowler. It is easier to hit a spot that has been put there for you 15 feet away
than to focus on pins 60 feet down the lane. But concentrate hard on it—miss
the spot and your error will be quadrupled by the time the ball reaches the
pocket—and learn to repeat your delivery exactly. Only your position at the
start and the spot you are aiming at change. Your delivery does not. I check
myself after each release against the following list:
"1) Was my
left foot pointed at the head pin? If so, I know my steps were straight and the
ball was delivered with balance.
"2) Was my
left leg bent and supporting my weight? This tells me if I released the ball
smoothly and close to the lane.
"3) Were my
hips square to the foul line at the release?
"4) And were
my shoulders square to the foul line? If the hips and shoulders are square. I
know I have used my full body strength.
"5) Was my
follow-through at least shoulder-high? If so, I know the ball will not
"6) Was my
left arm kept well out from the body? This is the counterweight against the