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Don't Lift The Bowling Ball, Release The Ball

By:, Originally Posted: 10/15/16; Updated: 1/13/2022

Don't lift the bowling ball, release the ball.

For years bowlers have been taught to lift the ball out onto the lane by snapping the wrist and bowling fingertips to impart roll and spin on the bowling ball.

In today’s game of modern bowling ball technology, the idea is to release the ball (let the ball go without forcing wrist action) with a fluid and flowing exiting motion off of the bowling hand.

The key to gaining a consistent ball reaction with today’s bowling balls is to govern the ball skid distance from the release point to the point of first transition in the mid-lane.

If you are able to control your ball skid distance by delivering the ball at a consistent speed and by allowing the ball to flow off of your hand smoothly and at the same moment near or at the bottom of your forward swing arc, you can successfully attain a reliable ball reaction.

With a reliable ball reaction, your job of aligning to the pocket or to spares becomes an easy process compared to getting an inconsistent ball reaction.

The lifting action the old release technique entails is to snap the bowling fingers and wrist at the last moment and on the upswing creating loft distance beyond the foul line and to impart a roll and spin combination onto the bowling ball.

Lifting the ball was effective years ago when all the equipment was hard rubber coverstock material with low ball surface friction generating capabilities.

Since today’s reactive bowling balls create much higher levels of friction and traction when contacting the lane surfaces as opposed to the old rubber bowling ball, the need to lift the ball becomes out of date.

The modern bowling balls will effectively create good traction on the lane without forcing the release by snapping the fingertips and wrist at the moment of release. All that is needed is to allow your ball to flow off of your hand without forcing the delivery and use the given amount of finger rotation you desire as consistently as possible.

In short, let the ball do it’s job as designed by manufacturers and avoid trying to help the ball roll by grabbing at the ball in an attempt to lift it onto the lane surface. The ball surfaces today are made either very shiny and smooth or with a very textured, matte finish. The shiny reactive ball surfaces are finished with a high grit texture to enhance ball skid distance good for medium to dry lanes. The matte finish, textured surfaces using a low grit finishing pads reduce ball skid distance and are effective on heavier oil lane conditions. With both selections of bowling ball equipment, it is advised to avoid lifting the ball but rather releasing the ball with a smooth, flowing technique to gain a reliable overall ball reaction.


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