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Five Bowling Wrist Positions

If you are wondering how many different ways you can use your wrist to generate various releasing action on your bowling ball, let’s consider several bowling wrist positions.

1. “Hinged” wrist position
2. “Broken” wrist position
3. "Straight" wrist position
4. “Cupped” wrist position
5. “Revolved” wrist position

These bowling wrist positions affect your bowling ball motion and can add versatility to your delivery style. The information we at bowlingball.com wish to provide in this article addresses ranges in the motion of different wrist positions and how they affect the roll on your bowling ball.

The “hinged” position can be set by simply placing your bowling arm and the palm of your hand up with a straight line forming with the inside of your arm and with the heel of your hand pointing in the same direction. Then simply cock your hand to the side of your arm forming a near right angle (90 degrees) with the heel of your hand and the inside of your bowling arm.

The “hinged” wrist position normally requires you to balance the bowling ball on your palm of your hand while you swing and release the ball. At the precise moment you deliver the ball, your wrist unhinges in a snappy and quick motion where your bowling fingers rotate the ball about two or three inches of rotation.

This motion resembles releasing a “frisbee” toy and applying a great deal of rotational motion so the “frisbee” soars in the air. With the hinged wrist position, you can apply a lot of revs to the ball and create sufficient axis tilt so your ball will hook and then roll sharply on the back end of the lane. This release is frequently used by power players who get a high rev-rate and have a high axis tilt generated by the release style.

The “broken” position can be set with the heel of your hand in a straight line with your bowling arm and the palm of your hand facing upward, then simply tilt your wrist back so the back of your hand moves toward the back of your arm.

The “broken” or collapsed wrist position is the weakest release of any because your bowling thumb exits the ball after your bowling fingers and a long skid length is generated with a low rev-rate. This wrist position helps when you are trying to deliver the ball in a straight line to convert corner pin spares, for example, or if you are bowling on very dry lanes.

The “straight” position is the simplest position of them all because the heel of your hand is in a straight line with your bowling arm and with the back of your wrist and remains level with the back your bowling arm.

A “straight” wrist position allows for moderate power, medium rev-rate, and either a high or low axis tilt depending on how much you choose to rotate your fingers at the moment of delivery. This wrist position is the most common of all positions and is a versatile way to deliver the ball.

The “cupped” position starts with the heel of your hand in a straight line with your bowling arm, then you simply tilt your wrist upward as if to move your fingertips toward your arm.

A “cupped wrist position encourages a fast thumb exit from your bowling ball when your hand enters the release zone. With the thumb exiting the ball quickly, the weight of the ball falls onto your bowling fingers and you can apply a crisp and lively finger rotation to the ball. This type of release helps you pick up a high rev-rate and perhaps a high axis tilt to conserve ball rotation energy for the back end of the lane.

This wrist position accommodates a sharp bowling ball hook motion and a strong angle of entry into the pocket. The “cupped” wrist is also more difficult to control and remain accurate when delivering the ball.

It is recommended to make sure your wrist does not collapse to a straight or broken wrist position as your hand swings the ball into the release zone. It takes a great deal of wrist strength to maintain a “cupped” wrist when delivering a bowling ball. Consider the use of a wrist support device which provides adjustable wrist settings to gain the benefits the “cupped” wrist position provides.

The “Revolved” wrist position is simply the ‘straight wrist position” but can rotate your wrist in your set-up on the approach about 90 degrees of useful rotation while holding your bowling ball.

If your hand holds the ball on the side of the ball, you can rotate your hand under the ball 90 or 100 degrees where your hand then is under the ball and allows for a decisive finger rotation at the moment you deliver the ball.


The more your hand is under the ball, the more you are in a position to rotate the ball and gain a high axis tilt, pick up your rev-rate, and hook the ball. The more you remain on the side of the ball, the less you can rotate your bowling fingers and the less axis tilt occurs and the less you will hook the ball.

Each of the wrist positions described above have intermediate levels of tilting or hinging. Essentially, these are the only ways your wrist can hinge when holding, swinging, and releasing a bowling ball. Any of these wrist positions can be very effective if matched right with the lane conditions and your alignment on the approach.

With some practice and experimentation, you will get to know how changing your wrist position effects the delivery of your bowling ball. If you can develop a range of delivery motion by using one or more of these wrist positions, you can alter the roll on your ball and your overall ball motion in an effort to match with the lane oil conditions.

If you have any questions regarding these wrist positions, we recommend consulting a certified bowling coach or an experienced local professional instructor to advise you what your wrist action currently accomplishes and how you can vary your deliveries to your advantage.

If any of you skilled and experienced players reading this article wish to provide a comment or tip about wrist positioning and releasing action, we welcome your doing so. We like sharing useful tips from our friends with everyone visiting our community.

Thanks for visiting bowlingball.com.