So, you see other players putting spin on the ball and ‘hooking’ the ball. To hook the ball means that it curves in just before it hits the pins and topples more pins. You can do it too. Read on for some great ideas on how to hold a bowling ball to get that spin and hook.
Let’s begin with some basics.
Bowling balls are not all the same - especially inside. You might find that a house ball doesn’t have the properties to help you play at your best. Find a ball that works for you. Click here for help. Your fingers need to be comfortable. Not too tight, not too loose. Also, at first it may help to use one with symmetric weight block.
Let’s get started with some techniques that will really get you scoring.
How to Hold a Bowling Ball for Spin
You don’t need to overwork the technique. If you have been a predominantly straight bowler up to now, don’t try too hard. Hold the ball to the side of your body so that it can swing freely. Think of your arm and the ball as being a pendulum. Keep that movement going.
Now we want to add spin.
As you release the ball you want your thumb to come out of the hole first and then your two fingers. You need to relax your thumb a little so that this is a smooth action. As your fingers release you can add the spin to the ball.
To recap. You add the spin as your thumb comes out of the hole and the weight of the ball moves on to the fingers. It’s a slight movement. Don’t overplay it at first. Use your fingers – not thumb – to add the spin.
The angle of rotation is different. This is where you not only add spin but you change the angle of your wrist as you release the ball. We will cover that later.
I think it is well illustrated by using a football. We can throw a football, or soccer ball, in a forward direction, whilst giving it a spin.
Here’s a good Youtube video that shows it. You will notice that the thumb is not used to create the spin. It simply gives stability to the ball.
Try it out with a similar type ball and then apply it to a bowling ball.
How to Hold a Bowling Ball to Curve
Curving is also known as curling or hooking. Instead of throwing the ball in a straight line, you get it to curve into the pins. It will knock more pins down than with a straight bowl. But, it is more difficult to do.
Keep your arm straight throughout the swing. Remember the pendulum.
Just as you release the ball, in fact, whilst you are releasing the ball, you want to give it a little flick or twist. Or put another way, rotate your hand counter-clockwise just a little as you release the ball.
Image Courtesy: Bowlingthismonth.com
Imagine you are going to roll the ball straight. But at the moment that you release it, twist your wrist a quarter turn counter clockwise.
At first you might twist it a little less than a quarter turn. The important thing is to attempt the flick or twist movement. Make sure it is a gentle turn. You don’t want to hurt your wrist or tire it out.
Follow through with your hand, finishing up with your hand to your ear, as if you were holding a cell phone to your ear. Sounds strange, but it works.
If the ball veers too far left or right, adjust your feet position by one board. Visualize the path of the ball. Don’t think too much about the pins.
Different Ways to Hold a Bowling Ball
First of all, it’s worth choosing a ball that fits your hand. That is, your thumb and fingers. You can have a bowling ball drilled to fit your finger size. Obviously, you must have your own ball to do this. You take the ball to a pro shop for an expert to do it.
The way you grip the ball affects its performance. If you relax your fingers it will have an effect. Get into the habit of using your spare hand to balance the weight of the ball. You can also try the two-handed release where it appears that the bowler is using both hands as they throw the ball. In fact, it’s just the one hand bowling. The other hand supports the ball up until the last moment. Some players don’t use their thumb. They only insert the two fingers into the holes.
The degree to which you insert your fingers in the holes may also help you to vary your technique. You can insert your fingers all the way, or only to the first or second joint. Or you can move only your index finger further in or further out. The degree to which you do so will probably help or hinder the way you play.
There are different ways of imparting the rotation and curve on the ball. Professionals do it with their hand or even by moving their body. Legs, feet, upper body or even shoulders. You can improvise a little too. It is all down to personal preference. Experiment. If it works for you, then incorporate it into your game.
Here is a final thought. Are you spending a lot of time practicing, but you don’t feel any improvement? Is this because you are sending ball after ball hurtling down the lane and not thinking about technique. Slow down. Think about what you are doing. And give the suggestions above a chance to work.
A suggestion. Practice at home. From just a few feet back, roll the ball towards a couch or piece of cushioned furniture. You can’t throw the ball with force in this situation, which is exactly what you want. Put your right knee on the ground. Place your left foot in front of it, and in line with the right knee. Practice rolling the ball gently along the floor in a straight line. Then practice releasing it using the suggestions above. You will get the hang of what to do to get it to curve and spin.