There are many stages of development for the beginning bowlers.
The first stage is developing a repeatable approach to the foul line, so you can deliver the ball with some consistency.
Along with the development of the physical approach, you have to develop a targeting system, basically using the dots on the approach and the arrows.
The key to bringing everything together is learning how to hook the ball. Hooking the ball complements good form. It’s easier to develop good form with a ball that curves.
With good form, you are taught to have a sound approach with a good finish position. When doing this, your shoulders are facing the lane. If you were to end up sliding on the 20 board and use the second arrow as your target, you would need the ball to hook approximately 10 boards to hit the pocket.
Your lay down of the ball at the foul line will be about five to seven boards from your ankle. Let’s say it’s six boards, and your ball goes out to the 10 board before it starts hooking back to the pocket – that’s four boards out. And, if the ball hooks back to the pocket at the 17 board, that’s 11 boards of hook. A ball that hooks that much looks like it’s not hooking a lot but it’s enough hook to be very effective.
How does the recreational bowler start to develop a curve, which should be done the right way and easy as you are developing your form and targeting system?
A right-handed bowler would need to have a counter clockwise rotation on the ball as it rolls to get it to hook, and it would be the opposite for left-handers. Many times, the beginner is advised by their friends to stay behind and under the ball to get it to hook.
For most bowlers, initially trying to do it that way is very difficult. It will make the ball feel very heavy and can hinder the development of a good, well-timed approach, free swing and good balance.
The easiest way to get a small hook is to position your thumb at 10 o’clock and your fingers at about four o’clock. You want to set your wrist in a straight position in the stance. Once you set your hand in that position, you want to take your approach and not do anything with the hand or wrist to manipulate the ball.
If your hand returns to that position at the release, you will create some counter clockwise rotation on the ball, which will provide the potential for some curve without having to manipulate the release and work hard at doing it.
If the rotation of the ball from this hand position is too straight, move your thumb to 9 o’clock. If that’s not enough, keep moving the thumb counter clockwise until you are releasing the ball from the side for some rotation. Once you get a feel for the hand being on the side of the ball and you can see the rotation, you can start tweaking it to get the correct rotation.
It will take some experimenting with this to get you going. This is the easiest way to get a simple hook. Also, what’s critical to developing a curve with the simple hand position method is using a fingertip grip and having a reactive resin ball that will aid tremendously in getting the ball to hook.
Once you develop the simple method for the hook and your game has advanced to the point you have developed a good swing, timing and solid finishing position, then you can work on a stronger release.
Having the foundation of these fundamentals will give you the leverage to support the ball at the release to develop a stronger strike ball. Then, you can start working on getting your hand more behind the ball and the fingers lower on the ball at release to turn through the back of the ball.
Start simple and develop the fundamentals of timing, swing and posting your finish position before tackling a difficult release.