5 Tips to Get the Proper Bowling Ball Fit

Does your ball fit you correctly? It might not be something you’ve thought of before, but getting the proper bowling ball fit is an important ingredient to your success.

Here are some tips to make sure your bowling ball fits:

1. Check your thumb

You want your thumbhole to feel loose, but it needs to be tight enough that you can release the ball without gripping it. You shouldn’t need more than a piece of tape to accomplish this.

2. Look at your fingers in the ball

It’s important that your fingers go into the holes so that you can see the joints cleanly and that your thumb inserts completely.

3. Look for cuts

One thing is certain: if you experience bleeding cuts or painful discomfort it’s fair to say that your current fit isn’t working for you.

4. Everyone is different

Depending on the makeup of your hand, your fit can be very similar to the bowler next to you, or drastically different. Needless to say, all fits are not created equal. Talking with your friends about what works for them might not help you.

5. Get professional help

Finding the right fit is tricky. To help, Rod Ross, Head Coach for Team USA and The International Training and Research Center (ITRC), created a fit/release indicator that will help you identify problems with your fit and suggest ways to fix it.

Do you remember the 80’s song, “One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fix? Almost all of the USBC coaches have seen bowlers try to correct problems that ultimately lead back to an incorrect fit.

Ball Fit

For example, let’s say you have a problem pulling your shots. You go and practice different drills to straighten your arm swing and you still can’t find repeatability. It could very well be a fit issue and it’s possible that you are creating more bad habits because your equipment is incorrectly set up. One thing leads to another.

Wrap up

While many bowlers don’t associate a poor fit with a poor game, it is incredibly common. Before you make adjustments, take some time to review these tips and watch this helpful video to make sure your fit isn’t ruining your game.

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16 Responses to “5 Tips to Get the Proper Bowling Ball Fit”

  1. Ryan Twist

    Hey, I need help with my thumb section of my bowling ball

    I recently got back into bowling, and my thumb holes were too big for me, it forced me to have to grip it and hold it in order to not drop the ball, leading me to not good scores and shots. I got this fixed by getting a plug in.
    I now have another issue, but my pro shop driller said the ball is fine. I now every 1 in 10 shots get my thumb stuck in the ball, and it lofts a bit, or it goes into the gutter. I don’t know if this is a me problem, or if my thumb hole is too tight. Some info my pro shop guy told me is that if I can insert it all the way without a problem, and when I bend the thumb, pick up the ball, it is good. When I bend the thumb, I can easily pick up the ball with no fingers, and I can insert it all the way win (although, it touches the plug in very slightly)

    Is my ball’s thumb hole too tight? Or am I releasing incorrectly? TIA

    • Customer Service

      Great question! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members of our online community. By becoming a member, you will have access to our expert’s knowledge. With your membership you will also receive discounts on products and hundreds of hours of Premium content.

      If you are interested in becoming a member, please click on the offer below:

      (https://go.nationalbowlingacademy.com/c19285/) Thanks!

  2. Theresa

    I suffer from bowler’s thumb, caused by years of gripping the ball too hard. (I have a constant “pins-and-needles” feeling in my thumb, and if the edge of the thumb hole rubs the irritated nerve at the base of my thumb, the pain is awful.) Now that I’ve learned how to loosen my grip, I have a lot of trouble with fit. If my thumb feels comfortable in the ball, I drop it. Add a piece of tape and the ball hangs up on my thumb, so I end up not putting my thumb all the way in the ball which leads to bad delivery and low scores. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Customer Service

      Dear Theresa,

      Thank you for your patience while I got the answer from the expert, here is the reply:

      Hello and thanks for the question.

      It sounds like you have a fit issue. Check out these videos on pitches and grip pressure and take the knowledge learned into your pro shop and start playing around with a new fit.


      When your ball first gets fit you should be able to let it hang from your side with out grabbing. It seems like its too tight but in order to get good roll off the hand you need to have the ball stay snug in your hand with out grabbing it.

      A lot of bowlers today are using forward pitch in the thumb to achieve this. If you are a bowler that has always used reverse pitch this will take some getting use to but I think it may just be what the doctor ordered for you.

      Thanks for watching!

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

      We greatly appreciate your business!


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  3. Alan Wojdak

    Good info need to improve on coming out straight lately crossing my arm pulling left


    I have devloped calluses on my right thumb, on my knuckle and both sides of my thumb. Is that caused from a bad drill of the thumb hole? I have to put thumb tape on my thumb and the calluses are painful. They have not gone away even though I do sand them down gently and put hand cream on them when I am not bowling. I have increased the thumb hole size myself which has helped some. Should I bring my bowling balls down to my pro shop and have them checked for proper fit?

  5. Scott Robertson

    I have been having issues with my fit more so over the past two years

    happy to send through photos of it helps and detail more about the biggest issue I’m still having

  6. Jack Krupicka

    Don’t know if I have a right fit or not. My thumb pops but does not go all of the way in the hole. Can’t seem to get it to hook although I have a slow to medium rotation speed.

    • Customer Service

      Hi Jack,

      Sorry to hear about your fit woes.

      Your thumb should definitely go all the way into the thumbhole. When your thumbhole is first drilled, you should we able to release the ball when it is the most snug it can be releasing it.

      Then you’ll want to have it drilled out a touch to be able to add one piece of tape.

      The goal is to be able to put the tape in when you need it and take it out when you don’t.

      Be sure to check out the video in the article, it’s awesome!

      You’ll be able to identify what the problem is with your fit by what’s happening your fingers and thumb after bowling a bunch of games.

      Thanks for watching!

      National Bowling Academy Video Membership