Grip Pressure and the Modern Release

Grip Pressure
What causes bowlers to squeeze the bowling ball? The amount of grip pressure used will directly affect how the ball hooks. Applying too much grip pressure (a.k.a. squeezing) creates other fundamental issues in your game outside of the release that will result in some bad habits. It’s counterintuitive in many aspects of life that doing less will give you more. However, with grip pressure in bowling, the less you can do with your hand, the greater the reward.


Nobody wants to be that guy who has their ball go backwards toward the settee, rather than the pins. When we communicate with our pro shop operator, we tend to request our holes bigger than they should be, especially the thumb hole. The angle of the pitches during drilling should determine how the ball hangs onto your hand. If your holes are too large, grip pressure increases, limiting hook potential.

A good place to start when getting fit for your next ball is “as tight as possible.” After your pro shop operator makes their first pass on your ball, try kneeling on the floor and releasing the ball back and forth a few times. You’ll want to get your thumbhole to a place where you can add a piece of tape or two.

Remember that you are trying to eliminate squeezing. So, it should feel tight, but it also needs to be able to come off your hand. Each fit is individualistic, and no two fits are the same.


  Now that your ball is drilled properly with your correct span and pitches, we need to focus your efforts on continuing to reduce grip pressure in the stance and throughout the shot. Before you even get into your stance, picking your ball up off the rack with two hands will help reduce grip pressure and fatigue in your bowling arm/hand throughout practice and competition.

When you get into your stance, roll the ball onto your fingers and thumb. Most bowlers start with their ring finger, then middle finger, and finally the thumb. If you have an extremely flexible thumb or are double jointed, try putting your thumb in first, then your ring finger, and finally your middle finger.

Now that the ball is in your bowling hand, try to keep the majority of the ball’s weight in your off hand while in the stance. This limits the amount of tension put onto your bowling hand and forearm, saving the energy needed for the backswing and release.

Remember: if you can visibly see tightness in your forearm, you are squeezing the ball.

Pressure points

  Throughout the approach, the bowling ball in your hand will rest on a pressure point. Some bowlers prefer the pressure point nearest their pinky and others nearest their index finger.

There is no right or wrong on your selection, but when you have selected one, the key is trying to keep the ball on that pressure point throughout the entirety of the shot. If the ball moves away from this pressure point, the stability in your bowling hand is compromised and you will have inconsistencies in your release. Making repeatability nearly impossible. Every coach stresses the importance of a good fit and limiting the amount of grip pressure used in today’s game.

Unfortunately, you can’t coach a bad fit, so if you’re pulling the ball, dropping the ball, or your hand and arm hurt every time you bowl, get into the pro shop and get your fit looked at. You’ll be happy you did!  

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19 Responses to “Grip Pressure and the Modern Release”

  1. Ronny Fesler cohen

    When I realasr my ball I don’t feel.the fingers. Dome times the ball fall of my hand sometime the thumb exit and when u try to hook the ball with the fingers I don’t feel them.
    Hiw can u fix my throwing and feel the pads finger when I fhrowing rhe ball and rotate my finger around the ball
    Thanks in advance

  2. Bunnie Kimble

    This article on Grip Pressure was right on time. I am always conscious of the handling of my ball & release moves, even more so when I pick up my ball & hold it in my hand. I was pleased that I’ve been doing it right for me. Also, I’ve been bowling much better. I have lots of tournaments scheduled in the next 2 or 3 months so this is very helpful. Thank you.

  3. Orphie Klinert

    So happy you published this article on grip pressure it is going to be extremely helpful to me thanks again

  4. William Hudson

    Just rolled my best game [256] and felt that I was gripping both index and ring finger substantually at the release point. I am not sure if substantually means too hard, but I loved the results. Only so much can be written whan discussing feel so I’m going to quit worrying about it…


    Just had one ball redrilled thumb slug tighter; almost tossed it up to the ceiling first attempt! By end of first practice game was coming out ok at the foul line, but still can’t aim many games before I can line up as usual?

    • Customer Service

      Dear Jonathon.

      Thank you for contacting us.

      That will depend on how much practice you get in.

      If you have any other concerns, please contact us at 1-855-208-7395, or chat with us on our site.

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  6. clintskees

    I have my ball right on my index finger on palm it’s seems it’s best for me stays their for me even coming down through to foul line, after looking at my mark Last thing for me is watching my fingers ripping the revs up

  7. Nick

    What is the proper release , what position should I hold the ball, before starting my approach

  8. Ken Simmons

    One aspect of fitting that is often overlooked is “expansion” and “contraction” of the thumb due to temperature, weather, what one eats/has recently eaten. Believe me, it can come as a shock when Things Fit Perfectly in the first League game, then “Man, my thumb is tight!” later on (2nd or 3rd game).

    What I tell people I Coach regarding ball drilling is “get fitted/drilled when your hand is at its’ ‘largest'”. If they can’t do that, then I tell them “have the thumb drilled ‘a scrootch’ larger (i.e., 0.010″ or so)” to accommodate adding/removing Fitting Tape in the thumb hole (ONE “white” piece in front, As Many As Necessary “black” pieces in back).

    If you’re using “Switch Grips” (removable thumb slugs) or similar, have TWO slugs drilled: one for your “largest” thumb size and one for your “ideal” thumb size. As the Session starts/progresses, add/remove tape to the slug(s) to maintain the “ideal” fit (especially on the “large” fit slug) for best release.

    And as always, ensure the hole spans and pitches are properly drilled! :)

  9. zacharyt.maneja

    Yeah I think fit is my issue. Been trying to work on modern release but when I put my thumb all the way in it tends to grab and pull me onto the lane, at times causes the ball to go vertical upward above my head on to the lane. Been noticing that the line between my two finger knuckled is about 1/4 inch away from the finger holes, potentially a stretch span forcing my thumb to be pushed to the outside wall of my thumb-hole when passing the first knuckle during my release, in result blocking any air from escaping and making my fit tighter. Been noticing burn marks on the pad of my thumb and calluses on the back of my thumb, and got a big rip on the base of my thumb. Squeezing like this: made it all worse. A person who has larger hands than me commented that his hands are bigger than mine and yet my span is larger than his. So I plan on getting refitted, with oval thumbs, maybe tiered thumb drilling new pitch new span and I’ll be on my way in my last two years competing in junior gold.

    • Rob Petitt

      Exactly my problem. I’m afraid of launching one up in the air–I’ve done it in league and it’s very embarrassing, plus a shock to the system–and onto the next lane. So I back off and end up continually dropping the ball a split second before I can get good lift/fingers into the shot.