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Using Wrist Guards For A Better Release

Excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals - Second Edition By Michelle Mullen


Many bowlers whose wrists break before they release the ball will benefit from using a wrist guard. Different wrist guards have different functions. Some simply firm the wrist position, whereas others have a specific effect on ball roll. A good matchup can definitely improve performance!

When you need to stop your wrist from breaking back, a basic wrist guard with a metal backing will straighten the wrist. In fact, you may already have a natural hand motion to impart rotation to the ball, but you just don’t get to see it actually hook because your wrist breaks before you do it. This wrist guard would be good with either a conventional or fingertip grip. Note: when I put these wrist guards on my students, I take out the front piece of metal so the ball sits flush on the palm. It’s the backside metal that gives the support.

Whereas a basic wrist guards stops at the knuckles, a longer wrist guards that extends to the second joints on the fingers offers even more support to keep the wrist firm and position your fingers lower, more under the ball at release. With his kind of wrist guard, the ball will come off your thumb even cleaner, creating more revolutions at release. A longer wrist guard would be good with a fingertip grip.

Other wrist guards are made of metal and offer strong support, and also have some knobs on them to make adjustments to wrist position. Caution: Although these are excellent, it is important that you are measured and fit for your ball with these wrist guards on. They change the measurements of your span. If you commit to wearing one of these, have your ball fit adjusted for your new span. The wrist guard would be good with a fingertip grip.

Finally, one type of wrist guard has a finger guard on the index finger. This is very helpful for bowlers who need to get out of a reverse hook or who are trying to develop more rotation on the ball. Something in the design naturally helps the hand rotate around the ball. Although it works instantly for some, others still need to cultivate the technique of rotating at release. Some may use this wrist guard to help learn rotation, whereas others end up wearing it all the time for good rotation. This wrist guard would be good with a fingertip grip.
If you can, experiment with wrist guards during a lesson or in the pro shop before making a commitment to one. At your local pro shop, ask if you can try a few shots with a wrist guard to see whether it helps before you buy it. Some are a bit uncomfortable at first, especially the ones that chance your span. Just know that your span has to be adjusted if you commit to wearing a wrist guard of this type.

Some bowlers believe that they can firm up their wrists on their own, and some can. But many (who may otherwise be strong people) too often confuse the muscles needed to firm up the wrist with the muscles that control grip pressure. In fact, they are a completely different set of muscles! Professionals who do not wear wrist guards have learned how to relax their grip and their arm swing, yet keep their wrists firm. However, this requires natural wrist strength and talent. When this challenge leads you to lose more than you gain, you are definitely a candidate for a wrist guard.

Mullen, Michelle. Bowling Fundamentals- Second Edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014.

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