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Bowling/throwing a figure eight


Leo the lion wrote at 2010-01-02 18:57:39
The figure eight release was used by the great bowler Ned Day. He was the best and then came Don Carter. Day bowled in the 1940s and 1950s.

The figure 8 release is very good but not seen to much today. Many young bowlers are crankers and turn out on the back swing. The figure 8 you turn in on the downswing and then back out etc.

It is a great release and requires good timing. The benefit is that it is almost effortless.  

AtomicBowler wrote at 2010-08-22 12:38:42
When I first started bowling over 20 years ago I used the standard 'stroker' style. About a year and a half back I saw an old film of Ned Day bowling and subsequently bought a book he had authored in the 1940's.

I've given a bit of a try at the figure-8 hand motion and have found it to be very effective. True, the timing is critical, but that is true for any release/approach.

As the previous response noted, this armswing is nearly effortless once practiced for a while, and yields a very smooth, even swing.

One particularly noteworthy detail...unlike the majority (possibly all) bowlers of the 1940's and 50's, a great many of us today bowl a fingertip grip on the ball. (Ned Day, incidentally, was the first to use a three-finger grip, period. At one point Brunswick promoted it as the 'Patended Ned Day Grip'!)

Between the added lift ogf the fingertip grip and the modern reactive resin coverstocks, I find that this delivery makes the hand and fingers very authoritative, which can be good or bad. As I mentioned, I have always bowled a fairly flat 'stroker' hook. With this delivery I found I was becoming more of a 'curve' bowler (in my case an unintended result).

Another distinct advantage I found was that by closing up my index and pinky fingers with this delivery I am able to gain substantial revs when needed to climb up while still bowling a ball with a fairly conventional weight block and neutral drilling. Again, the lack of strain on the tendons, hand and forearm with the figure-8 are distinct advantages for an older person. Just for fun, I have tried it with an old 14-pound Mineralite I have, drilled in a conventional grip style. Boy howdy, you want to see an old low-tech ball with a one-piece core really churn it up and work? You can manipulate quite a bit out of a polyester house ball with this delivery does take gentleness and finesse to make it work for you and not head to Brooklyn or beyond on an alarming parabolic trajectory (if it does, it's mainly due to an abrupt end of the approach or premature release, causing the thumb to be below 10 o'clock when the ball leaves).

It's also well worth noting that Ned Day had a very interesting style of approach and delivery overall, which imparted a great deal of smooth power to the ball...the man's timing was impeccable. Day released the ball very low to the heads with his back quite erect and a great deal of knee bend, at the end of a rather long (I am guessing perhaps two feet-!-to judge by the film) slide. Carmen Salvino wrote in his book 'Fast Lanes' that not only was Day one of the best bowlers of the time, he was one of the few from that era who he (Salvino) felt would truly make a top competitor today. One notable comment from Salvino was that Day's timing and release were so clean as to be deceptive in that there was not even a notable 'thud' when the ball hit the lane head, just a hum as it travelled downlane. I am here to tell you that if you get low on the release and time this figure-eight right you will definitely duplicate that once in a while, with a surprisingly powerful result at the pin deck!

All of that said, I have to agree with the first respondent to the question--the young fellow in question would find it markedly easier to throw a hook in a more conventional manner, and often it will naturally evolve with regular bowling. If anything, I feel pretty stronly that most 10-year-olds are not physically developed or coordinated enough to be concerned specifically with a good hook so much as a good approcah, timing, and a powerful straight shot. Easy to transition to a stroker-type hook from there as their experience and bodies grow.

leo the lion wrote at 2013-02-14 00:22:04
On the Figure 8 release...Tom Kouros explains it extremely well in his book Par Bowling the challenge.

Don Johnson is a good example of the figure 8

Turning in is actually very easy to do but takes good timing to bring the fingers back around to be in position to either lift with the sides of the fingers for max side roll, or come around futher to be more behind the ball to rev it up.

The key is that it is easy on the arm, elbow and fingers. I see so many young crankers with all kinds of problems and wearing splits and wraps.

Mark Roth brought in the cranker style but he had tons of hand problems and so did Peter Weber in his younger days. Look at Wes Mallot his thumb gets torn up and Tommy Jones has had hip surgery.

Smooth baby!


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Chip Aki


Ball drilling/fitting, Layouts, coaching related questions, any. USA Bowling Bronze Certified Coach, International Bowling Pro Shops and Instructors Assocation member, 15 years Experience in ball drilling, Storm Staff member.


Team USA State Champion Indiana'87 and Lousiana '97, National Collegiate Championship Wichita State '87, Ky state Singles Champion '99,Team USA National Finalist '97,'98, USBC Open Singles Champion 2007 (814 series)

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