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Forward Bowling Ball Roll, Originally Posted: 8/1/2013; Updated: 4/13/2023

In this era of the power game and modern bowling ball equipment, it is easy to be infatuated with the big hook. The big hook is very exciting to watch and really generates a high rev-rate and dramatic pin carry.

The “big hook” delivery style may not be best for you, however.

The “power player” uses a risk/reward delivery style. It is easy to advocate the power game for those bowlers with the physical gifts to control a legitimate strong release style and align to the lane conditions accordingly.

Most of us bowlers are not power players and can benefit from a more conventional, low axis tilt delivery style.

Known commonly as a “stroker” delivery style, this low rev-rate and low axis tilt delivery gives an appearance of an end-over-end, forward rolling motion as a given ball rolls down the lane.

A forward rolling motion is an easy delivery style for maintaining accuracy and ball path control.

It is very easy to overturn the bowling ball or to turn the ball too soon when you are trying to hook your ball. Forcing the turn of the ball while trying to “cup” the wrist to gain more revs is a trap which can lead to errant deliveries if you are not well coached or well practiced in doing so.

The forward roll, low axis tilt delivery style can produce a very controllable hook motion on a wide range of lane conditions. Depending on the given ball you choose, you can vary the amount of hook you achieve using little axis tilt.

A low axis tilt is primarily developed by a small bowling finger rotation, perhaps as little as a half inch of rotation, to produce the forward roll you seek and reduce the risk of an uncontrollable ball reaction.

There are two hand positions you may use to get the forward roll motion on your bowling ball. You may stay directly behind the bottom of the bowling ball with the palm of your hand and your bowling fingers until your hand reaches the delivery zone at the bottom of your forward swing. At this time, you merely rotate your bowling fingers, perhaps only a half of an inch of rotation, and you will achieve a low axis tilt delivery.

The other method is to have your bowling hand on the outside of the ball about 90 degrees turned away from the behind-the-ball position. From the side of the ball, no finger rotation is needed to achieve a low axis tilt and a forward rolling motion on your ball.

This method is the old “suitcase” release taught by coaches decades ago.

Releasing the ball with your hand on the side of the ball risks overturning or “topping” the ball and risks pulling your ball away from your intended delivery path.

Staying behind the ball has the advantages of swinging your ball very close to your body with the inside edge of the ball very near your sliding ankle and under your bowling shoulder at the moment you release the ball. This technique creates greater leverage and power than does the “side-of-the-ball release technique.

Regardless of your delivery style, using little finger rotation will create a low axis tilt and a forward rolling motion applied to your bowling ball. If you want to create a highly controllable ball reaction, use the forward roll technique and gain increased accuracy.

The name of the game is to hit the pocket as often as possible and then pick up your spares. Trust in your skills and use them to your advantage and you will increase the likelihood of gaining higher scores, not just more hook.

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