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How To Change Bowling Hand Positions


If you are averaging 180 or less and are wishing to improve your delivery techniques, then learning a few keys how to change bowling hand positions will help you achieve improved control on a variety of lane conditions. Developing techniques on how to change bowling hand positions involves several important factors.

This article is a long and detailed article so please take time to read it carefully and be aware that there is no easy and quick, simple method to mastering release changes. It is naive to think so. It is important to work hard at making any physical game changes, including release changes, before entering competitive sessions.

Any time you can make changes to your physical game and to your equipment without changing your most reliable delivery style, you should make those adjustments first. Changing your delivery technique requires a great deal of practice based on a solid physical game in order to develop the confidence necessary to trust the changes in competition.

Changing other tools can be a quicker and efficient means to an end other than changing your release technique.

Changing release techniques have ruined many of promising and talented bowler if these changes are not initially monitored by an experienced instructor to make sure the changes you are attempting are actually occurring. Making changes on your own is no real guarantee that you are accomplishing what you set out to do. Please be aware of the challenges in making radical changes to your delivery style.

Also, there are many times bowlers wish to become more of a "power player" or "tweener" rather than a "stroker" type player. Adding revs to your bowling ball and changing the axis tilt to promote a sharper angle of entry on the back end of the lane requires physical changes in your game other than hand action. Changing your footwork pattern and your swing path alignment also are important to match with a new release style. It is vital to consult a very experienced professional instructor prior to attempting major changes to your bowling release. We cannot emphasize this enough.

With all of this first being said, here are a few ideas (some involving no physical release changes using your most reliable technique) to develop your ability to deliver the bowling ball using varying release techniques with the ultimate goal of hitting the pocket consistently and converting spares efficiently on a variety of lane conditions:

Ball Speed - Increasing your ball speed slightly by generating more swing velocity, both on the back swing and on the forward swing and follow-through motion will be one way of reducing hook without making any changes to your normal delivery style. Increasing or decreasing your bowling ball loft over the foul line to effectively shorten or lengthen the lane is another useful trick to alter the ball reaction without any physical changes to your hand action other than releasing the ball slightly sooner or later than usual.

Ball Change - If you have a polyester, regular urethane, or an entry level reactive ball which you use for dry lanes and spares, try using these balls for your strike deliveries if the lanes are dry. With no hand changes whatsoever, using different bowling ball coverstocks can help you achieve varying ball motion without changing from your most reliable hand position technique. The same holds true for heavy oil conditions by switching to an aggressive coverstock with a good deal of surface texture.

If you have several balls in an up-to-date equipment arsenal, then switch to a ball which best matches the conditions where you are bowling. Don't be lazy and delay changing bowling balls when you see the changes in your ball reaction during competitive sessions on the lanes.

The drilling layout can either encourage a sharp back end hook motion or minimize back end hook depending on the degree of Differential of RG and Flare Potential the given bowling ball possesses. Try not to be stubborn and not change your bowling ball if it hooks far too much or not enough. The best players react quickly because of experience and practicing on various conditions and because they know their equipment.

Sometimes polishing a ball coverstock, particularly on a pearl reactive coverstock, might make the ball create increased friction on the back end and promote a stronger hook motion than desired. Be careful not to use polish which restores the "tacky" felling on the ball surface, particularly with pearl reactive bowling balls, if you are trying to minimize hook. Knowing the tricks and traps of surface strategies you can develop through experimentation and through consultation with your pro shop professional will decrease your waiting time to become successful.

Changing your Release - To produce a small and consistent hook, less finger rotation at the moment of release is required than if you wish to produce a larger hooking action in heavy oil. Less hook is easy to control.

Place your bowling hand under the ball in your set-up on the approach with the palm of your hand facing upward toward the ceiling with your inner arm and the butt-edge of your hand in a straight line. Try and maintain this hand positioning throughout your entire arm swing cycle and as your hand releases the ball if you wish to reduce the amount of hook on your bowling ball.

The less rotation with your fingers and by allowing your hand to stay behind the ball during the release and follow-through motion will promote less axis tilt applied to the ball and a lesser degree of hook on the back end of the lane.

The opposite is the case for a greater amount of hook. Cock your wrist by moving the butt-edge of you hand 90 degrees angle with respect to your inner arm. At the moment your thumb exists the ball, quickly rotate your fingers about two or three inches from under the ball toward the outside of the ball so you will increase axis tilt and increase your rev-rate.

Releasing the bowling ball with little or no finger rotation will develop an end-over-end rolling motion on the bowling ball and reduce overall hook. It is important to also reduce the rev-rate without losing ball speed to help keep the ball on line and avoid an early hooking motion on dry lanes. For heavy oil conditions, increase the aggressive finger action when releasing your ball as described above so you increase the rev-rate and axis tilt and promote a stronger hook motion on the back end of the lane.

If you allow your wrist to tilt back as if to keep your thumb in the ball longer than usual, you will reduce ball-revs and increase the skid length on the front end. By allowing your fingers to apply a lesser amount of releasing action on the bowling ball and merely allow the ball to flow off of your hand will encourage a long ball skid. The opposite holds true for increasing your rev-rate and that is to "cup" or tilt your wrist forward by moving your fingertips toward your wrist so your thumb exits the ball extremely fast and the fingers receive the full measure of the ball weight and can react quickly by rotating to the side of the ball and applying a strong release action onto the bowling ball.

A varying amount of finger action when releasing the ball will change your effective ball roll and hook.

A good goal is to develop three effective releases and practice each so you can be consistent with all techniques.

1. Develop a very weak release for dry lanes, one with no finger rotation and with a reverse tilt to your bowling wrist and one where the ball flows off of your hand with no release action imparted onto the ball. This technique produces a "Stroker" type delivery style.

2. Develop a medium release which involves mostly a straight wrist position, a modest rotation of the fingers slightly toward the side of the ball and after the thumb exists your bowling ball. This delivery style promotes a "tweener" delivery style.

3. Develop a release with a tilted forward wrist position and slightly cocked wrist in respect to the inner arm, with a fast and snappy rotation of the bowling fingers around the side of the ball, and with an aggressive follow through motion to insure a good deal of ball speed, a higher rev-rate than normal, and a lower axis tilt than the other two delivery styles. This delivery style is known as a "Power Tweener" style.

Caution must be taken in trying to develop these techniques to make sure your alignment properly matches the lane conditions. make sure you are well practiced with these release changes before using them in competition.

Here are a few tips for effective deliveries:

1. Maintain consistent gripping pressure with your bowling fingers throughout your arm swing cycle. The majority of gripping pressure should be with the pads of your bowling fingers with very little pressure on the pad of your thumb.

2. Release the ball between the shoe laces of your sliding bowling shoe and the toe of the shoe. The momentum developed from the swinging of the bowling ball will carry the ball onto the lane surface beyond the foul line.

3. To produce a modest and controllable hook, less finger rotation at the moment of release is required than if you wish to produce a larger hooking action as the ball travels down the lane. Less hook is easy to control. A strong hook requires more discipline because of a faster and larger rotation by the fingers during the release of the ball.

4. Place your hand holding the ball not flatly underneath the ball and not completely on the side of the ball as if you were going to shake hands with someone, but rather in between the two positions. If you were to allow your hand to maintain this position through the entire swing cycle and into the release area, you will rotate the axis of the ball perhaps only 15-20 degrees and the result will be a controllable hook on the back end of the lane.

5. Avoid "over-turning" your hand and bowling elbow while releasing the ball as to have your hand pass over the top of the ball and your palm of your bowling hand face the floor. That type of release will certainly cause inconsistencies and result in poor direction toward your target as well as an ineffective roll.

6. For a sharper hook motion, place your hand under the ball with the palm of your hand facing toward the ceiling. This type of hand position is commonly known as "behind the ball" positioning. As your hand reaches the critical release zone with your hand maintaining the "behind the ball" positioning on the forward swing, you must rotate your fingers quickly and decisively from left to right (for right handed bowlers - opposite for left handed bowlers) or about two or three hours on a visualized clock dial from "behind the ball" to the side of the ball near to the three o' clock or four o' clock positions. This quick and decisive rotation of the bowling ball by your bowling fingers will tilt the rotating axis of your ball causing it to hook more sharply than the previous example of maintaining your hand between the "behind the ball" position and the "handshake" position.

7. In tips 5 & 6, be careful not to rotate your entire arm but rather only your fingers and wrist action.

8. Use a wrist support device when practicing (if you do not already use one) which allows for a setting to be adjusted to create a quick and consistent thumb release and a crisp axis-tilting finger rotation motion. Tilting the wrist upward while you are releasing the ball will fly your thumb out of the ball well before the fingers so the fingers can rotate the ball decisively and create additional revolutions on the ball and/or increase the amount of tilt in the rotating axis of the ball, both of which will undoubtedly work toward maximizing your release hook potential.

Tilting the wrist support device back will slow the thumb exiting the ball and reduce revs and axis tilt. Using a wrist device makes it very easy to develop multiple release techniques and execute than effectively. We emphasize the use of wrist support devices to control your ball motion while learning new techniques.


Practice on various lane conditions whenever possible in non-competitive circumstances so you can experiment with these techniques and find a way to be effective controlling your bowling ball hook.

bowlingball.com always recommends you consult your certified bowling instructor or an experienced local coach, possibly your pro shop professional, to help you develop new delivery techniques.

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