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Bowling/Thumb problems


QUESTION: I am returning to bowling after 40+ years off and purchased a ball and had it fitted for a fingertip grip.  Problem is a painful thumb which is on the inside side of the thumb both at the joint and at the tip of the thumb.  The problem at the joint is npot a real issue anymore since a callus has formed but the pain at the tip of the thumb continues.  After working with the pro for a few months, I went to a different pro shop and bought another ball explaining my problem.  Driller tried something different and after trying for a few weeks, the problem is even worse.  Any suggestions?

Can you explain what the drillers did? Without knowing details of the fit, I can assume you're gripping or your flexibility or skin texture may be an issue. Without knowing lots more I can only guess. Guessing isn't an option.

Thanks for the question. Please help with more information.

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QUESTION: I cannot explain in driller technical terms what he did but I'll try.  First, I am left handed.    

The first driller:  I would presume he started with a "standard" type fingertip layout.  Immediately, I felt pressure on the side of the thumb (on the side of the thumb where the "V" forms  between the thumb and index finger.  At first, there was pain on the joint and the tip.  He thought the thumb hole was too large so he put tape in the hole on the front and back sides of the thumb.  It did not relieve the pain so he plugged the hole and tried a different pitch.  (Here, I don't know exactly what he did.)  This did not relieve the pain on the tip but the pain on the joint is gone since a callus has formed.  I went through several more weeks working with him as he enlarged the thumb hole in spot areas to accommodate the enlarged thumb callous and to try to create more room for the tip of the thumb to exit.  

Finally, I went to the 2nd pro and bought a new ball.  He looked at the first ball and said he would try to move the thumb hole counter-clockwise (remember I am left handed) which seemed to make sense since this was moving the hole in the direction of the pressure point.  Well, the pain on the tip of my thumb is even worse and now it actually breaks the skin.  Second pro said perhaps the thumb was a little too loose and too wide so he plugged and re-drilled shortening the span a little and tightening up the hole.  BTW, both pros made sure that the hole was oval since that is my thumb shape.

I'm afraid that even this explanation may not give you enough information to go on but I just don't don't know what to do next.  During all this time, I have tried tape; Ron's magic carpet; and a "thumb sock."  I get the best relief with the thumb sock but it makes me drop the ball sometimes because so much friction is eliminated.  I don't want to go to yet a third pro shop but may have to.  



You added more information which is good. Can you remember any of the numbers from your fit sheet? Do you have a copy you can send? I'm looking for reasons that the ball seems to need so much grip pressure. You may have used a lot of grip pressure before and that would tend to carry over in muscle memory. But since it's been so long since you've bowled, flexibility and skin texture no doubt have changed. It sounds like you're struggling to hold on to the ball and the span and pitches should allow you to just have it hang in your hand. That's not happening, so we're at the point of what to do next. What does the ball weight?

If the spans of the ball feels ok, and if your hand is relatively flat on the ball, we can assume some pitch adjustment and hole size adjustment are necessary. How long is your left thumb? We already know it's very oval, but is the hand dry or moist when you bowl? If you look at the hand, with palm down at eye height and when attempting to keep the fingers parallel to the floor, how far back does the thumb go when you push it gently back towards the wrist? Is there a 90 degree angle there? More? Less? About how much more or less? 75 degrees? 120 degrees? Let me know some of these specifics and we can extrapolate some additional things.

Thanks for following up. We're getting closer. Any additional graphic evidence of how the ball fits, pictures of the hand in the balls, pictures of the thumb, etc. would help too.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

1st layout
1st layout  

1st span
1st span  
QUESTION: Hello Again,

I will try to answer your questions.  First, I do not have any fit sheet information.  I don't get the feeling that I'm gripping the ball with excessive pressure but perhaps I just don't know what it's supposed to feel like.  

Both balls weigh 12 pounds.  For reference, I kept my old ball from 40 years ago and it weighs 14 pounds.  It also has a fingertip grip and I get the same pain in the same places with that ball also.  Except that it's heavier, I'm older, and I figured I needed a lighter ball.

My hand is small - I wear a size small glove.  My hand is dry when I bowl.  

My thumb and fingers form roughly a 90 degree angle when I spread my hands open.

I am uploading 4 photos in 2 different responses.  First 2 show the 1st ball I purchased.

Grip looks a little short on the first ball. Your description helps. The stiffness is normal as we age, requiring a bit more appropriate pitches, but the dry hand should help you clear the thumb hole. My hand is thick but smaller too. Correct pitches and spans really help.

The ball should literally hang from your hand if you relax the grip and let it hang down by your hip. Does the ball feel like it's falling off in that position (when hand is relaxed#?

Looking down into the finger holes of the second ball, I'm not seeing much in the way of lateral pitch, or pitch forward or back. The 90 degree angle in the hand might reflect some stiffness in the fingers. Typically, I'm seeing some away pitch in older bowlers and nice flat hand on the ball #spans# with some help with forward pitch in the thumb, to help you relax and need less #or NO# grip pressure. Looks like you still need to squeeze #callus is a bad thing).
Adjusting the thumb pitch should help but small increments might take a bit of time and getting used to. Would your driller be willing to discuss the fit? How long has he been doing this?

Thanks again for the photos. Very helpful.  


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