Now that we’re starting to get our scores up, we’re bound to find that two balls, a urethane or reactive hook ball and a plastic straight spare ball, just doesn’t quite get it – especially if you’re traveling to different venues. You’ll invariably find a hole in the arsenal. Either you don’t have enough juice to get to the pocket on the heavy oil or you’re scorching past the head pin when the lanes start to break down… and you run out of left (or right, in my case).
As an example, my Hammer Scorpion (I love this freaking ball) is amazing at Galaxy lanes. I’m on 30, looking at 17 and just pounding the pocket. At Grand Blanc Lanes, I’m standing on 20 and hucking it at 7, hoping it’ll hold to the pocket. If I move right more than a couple of boards, I’m in splitsville (I’m a lefty) because I get into too much oil and don’t have the rev rate to jerk it out of there. The Scorpion just isn’t enough and I can’t do anything with my plastic ball. Currently my middle ball is a Danger Zone 2 that died years. It’s a reactive ball, but it acts like a urethane. Long, shallow hook. That ball is spectacular when the oil is burned out… which rarely happens because I’m a lefty. I’ve got a bigger problem on Sunday night where the transition between heavy oil and dry is a matter of and inch.
And that leads me to my current conundrum and solution. The conundrum is the Scorpion, as spectacular as it is, isn’t quite strong enough in heavy oil so I have to try to get to the pocket by controlling my speed. Too fast and I’m light, too slow and I’ll cut across the head pin and have to hope for a Brooklyn. It’s a bit of a mess. The hole in my bag is in finding more hook in the heavy oil (the lanes are oiled immediately before both of the leagues I bowl on).
Enter the Brunswick Quantum Evo solid. It’s an “asymmetrical core with a reactive cover”… meaning it’ll hook hard in the oil, which will help my game immensely – especially with a lower rev rate. The asymmetrical part means if the core was cut in half, down the axis of the white dot in the photo on the right, above, the halves would be different. In a symmetrical ball, the halves are identical. The reactive cover, to keep it simple, means the ball will grip through the oil. Reactive balls also tend to have a dull finish to make them cut even more (polished reactive covers are known as “pearl” and work on the oil, but aren’t quite as sharp on the hook).
At this point we’re going to add a dimension to the game as well – something I’ve already tried with limited success. We can explore two throwing hand positions that will help change the hook profile as the lanes demand. The first position is more of a neutral hand position, with the pointer finger pointing directly at your target arrow at address. Some will go with the pointer and second knuckle splitting the target but my wrist doesn’t like that so it’s pointer for me. This is that “up the back” hand position where, on release your thumb pops out if it’s hole first, then your fingers ride up the back of the ball which imparts the spin. This isn’t directly up the back, though, as one would throw a straight ball. With my pointer at the target arrow, it’s more midway between up the back and to the side of the ball. The ball will unquestionably hook, just not to the full potential.
For max-hook, with our hand underneath and wrist cupped to cradle the ball, rotate the fingers toward the body so the pointer finger is pointing at the lane next to us (in my case, as a lefty, I’ll point at the lane to my right – a righty will point to the lane left). On our release, we’ll rotate the hand around the side of the ball as we begin the follow-through – this isn’t a crazy, massive move like you’ll see some of the no-thumb shooters throw as that’s typically the wrong kind of spin. Often, you’ll see people who have even less of a clue than I have throw a ball like that because they can put lots of revs on the ball, but the axis is all wrong and getting the hand position the same with every throw is virtually impossible, so the ball sprays all over the lane. The idea is still the same, the thumb pops out first while the fingers lift up and impart an extra bit of extra spin to the ball on the follow-through – the motion is the same, the hand angle just changes a little bit in a repeatable way.
Now, the best piece of advice I can give for that second method of imparting a little more spin on the ball is that we must maintain some form of consistency. Choose something to the side to point at with your fingers or knuckles at address (before you start your approach). This will ensure you’re hand is at a consistent angle. If you try to go by feel, your hand position will change as the games go by and you get tired which will change how much the ball hooks which will mean an inconsistent shot… and that you’ll be using that spare ball a lot more than you’d like to (trust me, I’m speaking from experience on this). Eventually this becomes muscle memory and natural, but we novice bowlers need something to keep everything simple and consistent.
Good luck and happy bowling!