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Questions about ball weight, bowler’s tape and adjustments – October 2009

Q: I’m planning to purchase a bowling ball for my 11-year old granddaughter. She has a passion for the game. She started with a 9-lb. plastic ball and has raised her average from 90 to 120 in less than a year. The center where we bowl has fairly dry heads, she throws the ball in the 11-mph range, and her style is similar to a stroker. Can you help me in picking between the T-Road Solid and the Street Rod Pearl balls in the 10 or 11-lb. range?

A: Those are both fine products, but I think a urethane ball would be a better choice at this point in her development. It would hook a bit more than plastic, but not have the extreme hooking characteristics of reactive resin balls. Your granddaughter’s ball speed is the important factor here. Until she is able to throw it 15-mph or faster, the reactive ball would probably hook too much to control and roll out prior to contacting the pins. A move to urethane would make a nice transition from plastic and not force her to fight the hooking action of the ball.

Q: When putting tape into the thumb hole, I know that most of it should go in the fingernail (back) side of the hole. Which is better to use, the white or the black tape? Also, how do you determine the proper size (3/4-inch or 1-inch)?

A: I prefer the black tape because it is smooth and will not cause scratching or pulling on the knuckle of the thumb. The white tape is rough and should be used only in the front of the hole if you need to improve your gripping action. I prefer the 1-inch tape as it fills a larger area and allows me to use fewer pieces to achieve the desired tightness. You also can find tape in various thicknesses if you don’t want to use a lot of pieces of the thinner tape. Tape is used when your hand shrinks due to low humidity — a la bowling a tournament in a dry locale such as Las Vegas or Reno.

Q: I am a left-handed bowler and need some help for tournament competition. First, how do I determine the correct line to play on the lanes? Second, I have a problem with chicken-winging the arm-swing. And third, how do you choose the correct ball for the lane condition?

A: Determining the best line to the pocket usually is a trial-and-error process. If I’m bowling in a tournament, I prefer to come in a little early and watch bowlers who throw the ball similar to me. That’s a good starting point for your line search. I’ll typically start on that line, and make adjustments based only on shots where I feel that the approach and release were correct. Do not make adjustments based on badly-thrown shots. As for the chicken-wing problem, this can be traced to not having confidence in the shot and trying to correct or help the ball after the release. During your practice sessions, don’t even look at the pins, and just concentrate on hitting your target and releasing the ball cleanly with a straight-arm follow-through. Take this feeling into competition, and keep your eyes on your target until the ball has passed the target. Finally, picking the correct ball is really something you should work on with your pro shop operator. Develop an arsenal of three balls plus a spare ball, and have a written plan in regard to how much early hooking action and back-end action can be expected for each.