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How To Up Your Bowling Game from a 100 Average to… Something Much Better: How a Bowling Ball Should Fit Your Fingers (or Vice-Versa)

I learned something the other day, after all of these years of bowling. It has to do with how the fingers should fit in a bowling ball. I’ve only just this year decided to start paying attention to the game – for the longest time I just went to have fun and hang out with friends on a Friday (and) or Sunday night for some league bowling. Well, my wife is starting to get back into it also. We bought her a new bowling ball a couple of weeks ago and went in to have it fitted last Tuesday afternoon. Now, like many people new to bowling, she found a house ball that she liked and traded a hand-me-down from my aunt, a very nice, pretty, plastic ball drilled for a straight thrower, to the bowling alley for it. She bowled quite well for a couple of weeks and decided that was the right drilling for her.

Then we went to the pro shop and the pro showed her the problems with what is now her backup ball. The holes on the house ball, while in the right place, were way too big for her fingers so she had to squeeze the ball to keep from dropping it before release. Ladies, after having thought about it for a few minutes writing this post, if you’re ripping nails to bowl, the likely culprit is you’re gripping the ball too tightly to compensate for the holes being too big.

The key here is the thumb hole. It should be just wide enough to allow your finger to exit from a throwing position without major friction or catching. Our pro said it should feel like you don’t have to grip the ball tightly to keep it from dropping before you throw it.

For a finger-tip drilling of the ball, the fingers are even tighter. I get a nice little “pop” sound when I release the ball (correctly, I should add here).

In addition to all of that, then you have to look at the way the holes are laid out for your hand… and then how the holes are laid out on the ball so you get the desired path of the ball down the lane. The simple point is, if you think you’re going to be lucky enough to find a house ball that meets all of that, it’s not likely. You can get close. Maybe.

And if you’re going to throw a hook, then you have to worry about symmetrical or asymmetrical cores, coverstock, finish, and how you want the ball laid out to influence the shape of the hook down the lane.

Notice the yellow dot and the small hammer – the dot represents the center of the core

My ball is laid out in a pin up and for a strong hook, lefty. That ball has a symmetrical core with a hybrid reactive cover (something betwixt urethane and full reactive). When I fit my fingers in the ball, they’re snug but not overly tight. My thumb barely fits in without grabbing or too much friction but there isn’t much room, either. The key is, when the ball rolls off of my hand at the bottom of my swing, the thumb comes out first and in such a way that there’s virtually no “drag”, then my fingers pop out sending the ball on its way.

This is how a ball should fit… and after having thrown hand-me-down balls up until recently, having my own arsenal drilled to fit me is an incredible upgrade.

The arsenal

Ebonite Maxim: Plastic spare ball
Hammer Scorpion: Symmetrical medium/heavy oil strike ball (this ball gets sent first)
Brunswick Quantum Evo: Assymetrical heavy oil strike ball (this ball goes second after my first line breaks down – this one goes when I have to move right, into the oil).