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Grip Pressure: Your Thumb Hole Is Too Big


Are you having trouble releasing your thumb from the ball? Your first thought is always to make the thumb hole larger. DON'T DO IT.

As Michelle Mullen explains in Bowling Fundamentals, Second Edition, "One of the most common requests in our pro shop is to open up a thumbhole because the bowler cannot let go of the ball without getting stuck in it. About 75 percent of the time, the issue is actually that the hole is already too big, which causes the bowler to squeeze the ball to hold on to it."

Squeezing the ball has many effects and all of them are bad. Squeezing pushes the sides of your thumb out which makes the hole seem tighter than it actually is. This is the main reason why most bowlers feel they need to open the thumbhole so their thumb will release. In fact, most times the hole needs to be smaller. This can be accomplished by adding Bowlers Tape to take up space in the hole. Having a tighter thumb hole allows the ball to stay on your thumb without squeezing. Don't worry about your thumb coming out when the hole is tighter. Due to the velocity of the swing, the ball will release from your thumb as you reach the release point. Michelle Mullen continues in Bowling Fundamentals, "When you have trouble letting go of the ball, a good trick for learning to stop squeezing and clear the thumb better at release is to think about pressing your thumbnail against the back of the hole, essentially "unsqueezing" the ball at release. This helps when you first learn to get the thumb out easier. It is doing the opposite, straightening the thumb, to overcome squeezing."

Another thing that too much grip pressure or squeezing will do is reduce your ability to put max revs on the ball. In order to achieve maximum revs, your thumb has to come out of the ball before your fingers so that your fingers can lift up on the ball (or achieve the slingshot technique that is popular today). Squeezing can cause your fingers and thumb to release at the same time, reducing revolutions.

Squeezing can also cause injuries. Squeezing adds extra pressure to your wrist, forearm and elbow tendons that over time will result in tendonitis and pain. Not fun when trying to bowl!

So if you're having trouble with your thumb getting stuck in the bowling ball, don't make the hole bigger, make it SMALLER first.

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