DON'T GRAB,& YOU WON'T BE CRABBY
How to avoid the big 'No-Bo' in your ball release.
I'VE GONE TO AN OFFSET THUMB. IT IS OFFSET 1/4" INCH TO
the left of the centerline. My release is cleaner, but does a dropped
ring finger hurt your release? How far offset should it be?
-- Bruce Sattler, San Antonio, Fla.
I am glad you have a ball driller who applied an offset thumb.
For a hand that is big, meaty, or has a lot of skin in the web, an
offset of 1/4" to 5/8" (or more as needed) will result in a cleaner
release. The offset thumb helps the skin in the web "clear" the
base of the thumb. This will result in a better feel of the grip
and a cleaner feel at the release point.
An offset thumb is not right for everybody, but when required,
really makes a difference getting the ball off the hand with a
good feel. As to a dropped ring finger, it is not unusual for the
span of the ring finger to be shorter in a regular fingertip grip.
This is based on the difference between the first joint of the
ring and middle finger being 3/8" or more.
There are still many uninformed "ball drillers" who drill the
ring finger 1/4" longer because, decades ago, that is how the
"cook book" said to drill the grip. The new rule of, er, thumb,
is that the ring finger span is based on the difference in the
first joints of the ring and middle finger. This may allow a span
difference as varied as each individual's bone structure. It is
not uncommon to see bowlers with a long ring finger span
wearing an elbow wrap for their "tennis elbow," which is
actually tendon strain caused by a long span or improper
forward/reverse pitch in the ring finger.
Another misnomer involves the Sarge Easter grip. Some
mislabel this a "dropped ring finger" type of drilling when, in
actuality, it is a fingertip for the middle finger and a conventional
grip for the ring finger. This grip is used by some high
rev-rate power players to reduce revs/hook and to aid in getting
a handle on the back ends.
Totally different grips with the same term used for both. Yes,
it can get confusing, but we hope this helps you to better
understand the necessity and value of both.
CAN I GAIN WITHOUT THE PAIN?
I recently had two new balls drilled and my hand aches after I
bowl. My old balls did the same thing. A friend said I should look
for a new grip. Would that help with the pain? How often does
the grip need to be changed?
-- Jeff Albea, Columbus, Ohio
You neglected to mention when you last had a fresh fit. As
years pass and we blow out birthday candles, keep in mind
that we change physically. With each passing year, we lose
flexibility in our joints, muscles and tendons. This lost flexibility
will require changes in the span, grip hole pitches and
possibly grip hole sizes and shape. When your hand becomes
stiff, you will feel as though you must "grab" the ball in the
swing so it does not fall off your hand. While those behind
you may be glad if you do that, grabbing the ball tightens your
swing. If you need to use the discounter's "Death Grip" during
any part of your swing, you have lost the loose, free and
natural swing from the shoulder. In addition, the tension from
the excessive grip pressure will reduce your accuracy, control
and power. Your muscles will be tense from your fingers
through the arm, shoulder, and on into your back. In addition
to the aforementioned negatives, you will tire faster and possibly
suffer fatigue and pain after bowling. If you feel the need
to grip or grab the ball at any point in the swing, or you can't
feel the pads of your fingers against the inserts or holes, tire
easily when bowling, or feel pain or tension in your hand or
arm, it definitely is time at least have your grip checked.
As to altering your grip, I recommend a periodic change. As
to how often, there is no length of time between grip changes
etched in stone anywhere. Of course, youth bowlers need
constant changes as they grow. This growth has led The
Bowlers Shop to offer "One Year Free Fit" to all youth ball purchases.
This is offered to help the parents with the burden of
keeping up with the child's growth.
With our senior bowlers, if the grip has been in use for a year
or more, we check the hand for a refit before drilling the ball.
Our bowlers between the two ends of the spectrum will get a
grip analysis each time a ball is purchased. If the specs are
more than 18 months old, we will not proceed with a called-in
order for drilling without looking at their hand for grip changes,
and the ball for track and/or release changes. In other words,
Jeff, if your grip is old (18 months or more), you can't just call to
have a ball drilled for pickup without one of the staffers checking
your fit. If your old grip is causing problems, we do not want
to duplicate that grip. We want to put you into a "fresh" fit to
give you a relaxed grip with a loose/free swing, and no pain or
stress. With a good fit, the bowler should feel as though they
have an egg in their hand and don't feel a need to "break the
egg" with their grip pressure. As muscle strength is lost for
whatever reason -- including carpal tunnel, tendonitis or old
Uncle Arthur (as in arthritis) -- some radical grip changes may
be applied. All of the above mentioned problems can contribute
to fatigue and strain/pain.