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Daily Archives: April 1, 2022

Bowling and controlling finger and wrist pain

I used to have a significant but ignorable amount of pain in my fingers and wrist when I went for a marathon eight to ten game practice session. Especially if I bowled on my Friday and Sunday leagues and practiced on Saturday, then followed that up with a few nights of drills at home. I felt like I had gravel in my wrist and my middle and ring fingers stung.

My wrist and hand would hurt all day for much of the week, though the pain would fade just before Friday league night. Nine games on Friday night and I’d flare it back up again.

It was an annoying, but tolerable pain.

Last week we bowled the last place team in the Friday night league. Ironically, the team has one of the best bowlers in all the league on it. This dude’s neck is as thick as my waist – he’s built like a brick shithouse and he’s always wears a Storm wrist brace. Nothing crazy, just enough to support his wrist… I also noticed Kyle Sherman (from Brad & Kyle) started taping his wrist up… so I got to thinking, “Hey, maybe a wrist brace would be a good idea”. I almost bought the same one the Friday night guy had, but on a fluke search I found one made by the same company that manufactures my Friday night strike ball. Well, it doesn’t get much better than that, so I snapped one up.

It arrived yesterday and I tried it out in the spare bedroom’s “bowling release drill area” for a good 20 minutes and I’m here to tell you, I’ve got no pain in my wrist or fingers. My fingers not hurting after the session was the surprising benefit of the wrist brace. I didn’t expect that at all.

The real test will be tonight, but I have a good feeling about it. I’ll update this post with the results tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: So this gets interesting. First, I don’t know as I’ll ever embark on a bowling marathon again without having a wrist brace. My wrist feels amazing when contrasted against previous weeks and I threw at least ten games yesterday. Astonishing is a great word here.

My wrist feels amazing this morning and I’ll likely order another just so I have a backup in case the original fails in some catastrophic way. I’m used to dreading writing a post Saturday morning but today? Not a worry in the world. Fantastic.

Second, where was this thing all my life?!

Bowling; Targeting, Arrows and Throwing at the Gutter… and How I FINALLY Got Some PROPER Extra Revs on the Ball

First, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve never referred to myself as “we” unless I was being facetious. This is purposeful because those who refer to themselves as “we” sound downright silly (I have a tough time not laughing when I run into people who do this in a blog post…).

Anyway, I have, since I started delving into bowling on this blog, referred to myself as a rev-challenged bowler (though we don’t have our own affinity group). I am, or at least was, a low-rev guy. Until last two weeks ago, Friday. The cool part in all of this is what changed. It wasn’t much.

I’d had a rough third game on league night. The whole night was difficult, really. My targeting sucked and I struggled getting the ball to the pocket consistently. Now, most of this is mental. I try to be so technically correct when I’m not practicing that I screw up a lot of what works (or, at least, what I’m doing right) in practice.

After the league games, I had some time to stick around with Craig and Noel for an extra game and Noel asked me a question about how to get your hand around the ball to get some extra rotation on it. I explained the concept to him, then offered to try to demonstrate it. I started as I had all night long, though on my second-to-last step, I turned my shoulders slightly, starting at the waist so I was slightly open to the gutter and just before I released the ball, I rotated my hand, slightly, around the edge of the ball while still keeping my wrist cupped… thumb out, pull up hard with the fingers, release… and it was the single prettiest shot I’d ever made with my Brunswick Quantum Evo. It was spectacular and looked a lot like a normal-rev bowler. Nothing near pro, or even the rev-dominant guys in our league, but it was vastly superior to anything I’d thrown before. The pins exploded as the ball tore through the pocket.

I won’t lie, I surprised myself.

I went to that well with every shot I threw in the extra game and threw the easiest 204 in my life. By the end of the game I was shooting at angles I couldn’t have hoped just an hour earlier and have the ball hit the pocket. Into the oil, hit the dry, arc and grab, back in the oil in the roll phase, dead into the pocket. Pins explode. Rinse, repeat.

The key was in unlearning some learned habits that made getting decent revs on the ball impossible. Those habits were created by throwing bowling balls that were too weak and from being a little too physically strong. I had a tendency to throw the ball through the hook phase, and often through the roll phase so it was skidding all but the last 20 feet. The ball would skid forever, then I’d hope it would hook and roll into the pocket in 20′. Bowling with consistency simply doesn’t work like that. Once I bought a new asymmetrical reactive solid bowling ball (Brunswick Quantum Evo Solid), I could throw the ball almost as hard as I wanted and still trust it to hook – and hook early.

Now, because I always threw weak, used up, old bowling balls, I learned to lay up on the ball speed to let it hook. I’d throw it straight between the first and second arrow, letting the ball break toward the pocket. That was my shot for 20 years. That was all I knew, and I got pretty consistent with it. With a bowling ball that digs in and rolls, I had to learn how to change my targeting because throwing it down my old line meant the ball would cut all the way across the head pin. I had to learn how to throw from further right (left handed) and at the gutter in more of an arc, so the ball wouldn’t over-hook, passing the pocket. This was disconcerting at first but I’ve only ever thrown two or three gutter balls – and those were because I missed my mark by a lot.

There was one last piece to the puzzle. If I throw the ball with my shoulders square to the lane, I can’t roll it to my mark consistently – I tend to pull it and miss my mark, over-hooking the head pin. I learned to turn my shoulders ever so slightly so I could open up to the gutter and get the ball to my mark. Throwing at the gutter was hard to come to peace with but once I learned that A) I threw with enough hook that, even if I missed my mark by a few boards, the ball would dig in and hook before it got to the gutter and B) My strike balls were strong enough to rely on to hook, my game turned around and improved rapidly and consistently.