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Bowling/thumb position at release


I'm righthanded bowler, hand positioned under ball at starting point.  right now, as i swing my hand forward at release, i try to keep my thumb to the right (say @ 2:00) as my fingers go forward with the ball.  Do you agree that this release is good, or should i keep my thumb in the ball so that my thumb turns to 11:00 at the release point?  Which way would give me more revs & be a more repeatable approach?

Thanks for your response!


Hello GW, Your question about thumb position hits home with me as a coach in two ways. The first is physical and the second is potential response from the bowling ball and lane. In a nutshell, whether the ball falls off the thumb from 10 or 2 o'clock position, the bowler has directly impart revolutions on the ball based on their physical abilities. Overall, I have seen 10 o'clock releases and 2 o'clock releases that look like they should have streaks of fire behind them as they go down the lane.
  First, let's look at the physical. I get to feel the hands, fingers and thumbs of a lot of bowlers as I speak with them about bowling. The most interesting bowler was Fero Williams. Where other bowlers may have had one, maybe two calluses on their thumb, Fero had three distinct calluses. Laterally on each side of his thumb and one at the base of the first joint opposite of his thumb knuckle. When I felt this, Fero confirmed that his release was dependent upon what the ball and the lane was giving him that day.
   If he needed an early roll he may opt to use the 10 o'clock position of release, if the lanes dried out a little, he may bring his thumb and release position more forward rolling to the 12 o'clock position. Lastly, if he needed to clear the heads, and wheel the ball off the outside dry boards, or from the far left to the inside dry boards...he "WILL" do it. This is accomplished by bringing the thumb and the hand opposite of each other. Thumb at 1 or 2 o'clock position, and the fingers around 6,7 or 8 o'clock position to get the maximum rotation on the ball a bowler can get. Physically, like in Fero's case, he can make a ball dance on the lanes...OMG! I mean, I have seen quite a few bowlers make a ball turn left on the lanes however, what Fero does is sick! Physically, a bowlers ability to generate revolutions is inherent! We all have a controllable minimum, and maximum number of revs we impart to a ball from a given hand position. Most coaches would be hard pressed to say which one is head and shoulders over the other between the 10 o'clock and the 2 o'clock positions concerning revolutions. The 2 o'clock will more often get you a more readable ball reaction.
  When I researched hand position and release years ago. My revelation at revolutions, came when I realized the 10 o'clock caused me to spin the ball early before my ankle. As I progressed to the 2 o'clock position I realized I was more accurate and more powerful with my leverage just past my ankle, with certain bowling balls and lane conditions.
  Through my study, I realized that bowlers themselves have to realize which release is more "comfortable" to them to impart revolutions on the ball. Along with which ball works the best and on what lanes (wood verses synthetics).
  Personally, I spin the ball faster with the 2 o'clock release. Still this is dependent on two factors remaining. The lane surface I was playing on, and the ball I had in my hand at the time. Physical ability is the key, and it is an individual thing.
  Our ball reaction, depends on the ball and the lane surface to make us look good. If it is too wet, we naturally think we don't have revolutions. If it is too dry we wonder ... WTH?!!!
  The best position for the thumb is really what you can use when the lanes are wet, medium, or dry. If you have noticed, when your thumb is at 2 o'clock it is basically one 1/4 turn away from the 10 o'clock position. If you put the ball in the 2 o'clock position and throw the ball and it just goes straight up the lane and through the nose of the rack. You may have gotten the core of the ball into a happy state, and even though you have revolutions on the ball, it has no reason to hook at all.
  Likewise if you like 10 o'clock releases but you try a 2 o'clock release and the ball just goes straight, you may have violated the same rule and the ball does nothing. Again, this may be because the pin/core is again in a happy position where it will give you no reaction.
   High Revolution on a ball may be a key in pin carry, but getting the right ball in your hands per lane condition is key in todays modern game. If you know your equipment, your lane conditions and which release gives YOU the bowler, the most revolutions, you stand a better chance at scoring when it counts.
   In summary GW. Physically, a 10 verses 2 o'clock release does not have a dominate advantage. However, in today's modern game bowlers need to work the inside of the ball. While you may be able to comfortably place the open hand in the 2 o'clock position, there is no guarantee the majority of bowlers will notice a appreciable increase in the number of revolutions. The 2 o'clock position does allow a bowler to position the hand and fingers more "around" the ball giving it a better "feel" towards increased revolutions. Here again, it is truly about the athleticism of the bowler to kick up some dust delivering the ball, and spinning it faster. Thanks for your question GW, and happy new year!!! - Coach

Las Vegas, NV. (Its A Great bowling book!)  


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Gary L. Oatis, PBA Coach and USBC Silver Level Coach, PBA Member, Pro Shop Staff Member


I am the author of True Bowler Adjustments bowling book. I can answer bowling adjustments questions dealing with the body, the ball, the lanes and using your eyes to read the ball reaction. I can also answer "most" drilling questions about bowling balls. I will generally answer your questions within 2 days. I am truly a "software guy" who loves the human or people part of coaching. Any questions concerning ball drilling, we want to direct to the "hardware guy," the true expert regarding ball fitting! Ball fitting is what I consider to be your first priority in bowling! Thanks in advance Warren!!! It will always be about teamwork with me! A very special "thanks in advance" for any help with drilling questions I may receive! If your question is about "How to bowl better? physically and mentally," I am here for you. Anything else will most likely be sent to the question pool for consideration by other members. I recently began my first year of ball drilling(6/1/2010). Thank you. :-)


20 years in bowling as a coach and player. Annually I coach over 250 bowlers. Author: True Bowler Adjustments Bowling Book Facebook Testimonies: Facebook contacts 5000+!/TrueBowler

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Gary L. Oatis,MSgt,USAF(Ret.) Associates of Science in Radiological Technology (we x-ray the cores of bowling balls as practice phantoms sometimes!) PBA Coach and USBC Silver Certified Coach Journeyman, Pro Shop Staff Member, Nadeau-Haynes Bowling Supply, Las Vegas, NV.

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