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Protect Your Bowling Hand, Originally Posted: 12/7/2012; Updated: 8/11/2021

There are a few things beginner bowlers can easily do to protect their bowling hand prior to and during your bowling sessions. It may surprise you how many bowlers neglect their bowling fingers and thumb.

Begin by making certain your bowling ball gripping holes are not too tight or too loose prior to bowling. At this point we are assuming you are using your own bowling ball professionally fitted to your hand.

If your gripping holes are loose, add a piece or two of bowling tape to fill space inside the hole. Bowling tape prevents squeezing the ball in an attempt to avoid dropping the ball during your delivery. When you have to squeeze the ball just to hold onto it comfortably, you will tend to bend your knuckles inside the hole and your fingers will not fit at the proper gripping angles. This can cause discomfort to your gripping fingers.

Your gripping fingers and/or thumb might get skin irritation from rubbing the edges of the holes improperly while you are swinging and delivering your bowling ball and might break the skin open causing a blister and exposing open flesh.

The same holds true when the holes seem tight before beginning to bowl. You may have to wedge a handkerchief down into the hole if your hand is puffed up more than usual and plunge your fingers or thumb into the hole repeatedly to compress your skin and get your gripping fingers reduced in size to fit properly and easily into your bowling ball.

You may have to visit the pro shop and ask the professional to open the gripping holes slightly using the appropriate tools so your hand fits into your ball comfortably before you start to bowl.

Weather conditions affect bowler’s fingers and thumbs by either expanding or contracting them in size. If your holes are kept a bit on the loose side, you can always add bowling tape. Wearing a bowling gloves must also be accounted for when planning for properly fitted gripping holes. You can easily remove the tape when your fingers return to their usual size.

If your hand swells or puffs up to the point where you cannot get your gripping fingers to fit into the holes, your challenges are more complex so it might be in your best interest to keep your gripping holes slightly on the loose side when having your ball fitted by the pro shop professional.

If you use finger inserts, then you will want to replace them after about 60 games of bowling to avoid the inserts wearing, separating or splitting which can cause finger discomfort.

If you choose not to use inserts, then you may have to bevel the top edges of your gripping holes on the bowling ball surface to re-shape the desired contour and make it easy to grip your ball. Holes will wear along the top edges after about 60 games of bowling.

It should be obvious by now that we recommend carrying an accessory bag inside your bowling bag so you have useful items readily available. Your accessory bag could include such useful items such as the following:
1. Bowling tape - bowling tape comes in smooth surfaces or textured surfaces to enhance gripping capabilities.

2. Skin protection - a bottle of liquid skin patching substance with nylon patches or the use of adhering gripping patches applied to your gripping fingers can prevent skin irritation.

3. Pocket knife or work-out tools - carrying a small pocketknife can be helpful in adding or removing bowling tape.
Other tools are adaptable to removing tape or working out the hole sizes.

Other useful and important accessory items to have available are:

4. Ball care tools - carrying grit pads can help you maintain the surface texture of your bowling ball equipment. Grit pads are available in various grits to smooth or texture the ball surface as needed.

5. Cleaners and polish - carrying bowling ball cleaner in small squeeze bottles is a must so you can clean the surface of your bowling balls after use. Removing dirt, lane oil, rubber marks, and scuffs from your ball surface will keep the ball ready for use the next time you bowl. If you need to apply a little polish, you can easily do so after cleaning your bowling ball surface. Apply polish by hand.

6. Microfiber bowling towel - hand towels are always useful to wipe away perspiration from your hand but can also help when cleaning your ball surface after a session on the lanes. Microfiber towels retain up to seven times the moisture of regular cloth towels and are easy to clean.

There are other accessory items which can serve you well but it is important, at the very least, to carry the most regularly needed and useful items in your bowling bag as described above.

Finally, a most important key to protecting your bowling hand is to ensure your ball is fitted properly to your hand and that you learn good delivery techniques so you do not cause irritation to your gripping fingers.

If you have an issue related to protecting your bowling hand, we recommend consulting the services of a professional bowling instructor or your pro shop professional right away.

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