As a newbie in the game of bowling, you have to learn how to throw a bowling ball. This is the most crucial skill in the game. Without this skill, you’re pretty much just a strange-looking fellow in a goofy shirt and unusual shoes.
Of course, the right equipment is important. You need the most suitable bowling ball for your particular needs, plus bowling shoes. It also matters a lot where you play, as lanes have their own peculiar conditions.
So, we will assume that you have a good bowling ball and some nice bowling shoes, and you’re in a proper bowling plaza. Now what?
Now you’re ready to learn how to throw a bowling ball.
Holding the Bowling Ball
Before you start throwing a bowling ball, you first need to know the proper way to hold a bowling ball.
- You start by putting your middle and ring fingers in the 2 holes set side by side (the last hole is for your thumb). You put in your thumb all the way in the hole.
- Now for the conventional grip, your middle and ring finger should go in their respective holes up to the 2nd knuckle. This conventional grip is probably the first grip you need to learn. You’re able to get a good, firm grip on the bowling ball so you’re less likely to drop it on your foot.
- Later on, you may want to try a fingertip grip with your middle and ring finger inserted up to just the first knuckle. This can be more complicated for rookies, however. Also, if you’re using a plastic (polyester) bowling ball then the conventional grip is your better option.
- Now lift the bowling ball when you have a good grip on the ball. Use your other hand to support the bowling ball, to make doubly sure you don’t drop the ball.
- When you hold the ball with your hand, see that you have ample room between the hand and the ball. There should be enough space in between to fit a pencil beneath the palm. Try to actually insert a pencil, and it should touch both the ball and the palm lightly.
Practicing Your Swing
Now that you have the bowling ball in your hands, get to an empty lane to practice your swing.
- When you’ve gotten a bit used to the weight of the ball, try to swing the ball underhanded with one hand. This should give you a good idea of how it will feel like when you’re throwing the ball.
- Then it’s time to do some practice throws, by using an empty lane. Stand on the release line, and start your practice swing.
- As your arm goes forward, your thumb should leave its hole. The thumb will then end up in the direction you were aiming the ball.
- At the end of the swing, you then uncurl your middle and ring finger so you can release the bowling ball.
- Don’t worry about your bowl ending up in the gutter. This is a practice swing, so that’s to be expected. The point is to give you a better idea of how it will feel and what you ought to do.
- Now get your ball back, and stand about 4 steps from the release line. This time, you need to practice stepping forward as you release the ball.
- Now take your 4 steps calmly, starting with the same leg side as your throwing arm. That means your last (4th) step will be with the opposite leg from your throwing arm.
Practice your timing, so that you get your hand and leg in sync. You may have to do a lot of throws at first before you’re able to throw the bowling ball accurately. At first, you may end up with a lot of gutter balls. Don’t be embarrassed—just keep practicing and throwing.
Here are some additional tips regarding how you release the ball.
- Your hand and wrist must remain strong during the entire throwing process.
- If you’re trying to throw the ball straight, your hand and wrist should remain straight throughout the throw.
- If you want to try putting a hook (rotation) on the ball, turn the hand and wrist as the bowling ball comes forward from the backswing and as you release the ball. Your hand should then switch from the original underhanded position to the handshake position.
- Finish the throw by releasing the ball as it passes your ankles. You then continue the throw by letting your arm continue to swing until it reaches the height of your shoulders.
Straight or Hook?
There are actually different ways to throw a bowling ball. However, for newbies, it’s enough that you learn the 2 basic throws.
One of them is throwing the ball straight to your target. You do this by keeping your hand and wrist straight and palm up during the whole process.
A straight shot is easy enough to learn, and you’ll need this kind of shot when you only have a single pin left for a spare.
The other main way to throw the ball is to rotate the ball so that it “hooks” into the pin. Most people will tell you that it’s the best way to throw a bowling ball to get the right angle for a strike, which you need to get higher scores. You just have to practice putting enough spin on the ball, combined with the right ball speed, so that the ball cuts back at precisely the right spot.
- The key to getting better at bowling is to be consistent. If you’re using a house ball, use that same ball for the day. Start with the same starting position each time. If you’re a newbie, play at the same place each time (preferably in the same lane).
- Get your timing right as well. Each and every step of each foot should match up with a particular part of your arm swing and ball release.
- Once you know where you need to aim at, imagine a line from your release point to your target. Now look at the lane and find the markers that can help guide you to release at the right spot and direction.
- Forget about the gutter balls if you’re a newbie. Gutter balls are like mispronunciations when you’re learning a new language. It’s natural to make these mistakes especially if you’re new, so don’t be embarrassed.
- Practice as often as you can. Get your timing right, and when you do—keep on getting your timing right by doing the same things over and over again.
Learning the proper way to bowl is the same as learning any other skill in sports and in life—you practice, and then practice some more. The more you practice, the more you learn about the proper angles, the proper speed, and the required strength. Once you know how to throw a bowling ball while taking these factors into account consistently, you’ll undoubtedly get better!