Grip Pressure and the Modern Release
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.
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!