Thumb Timing aka Release Timing

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The thumb is the first finger that exits the bowling ball during the release. This is often referred to as thumb or release timing.

Thumb Timing 1

In this premium video, Scott Pohl, owner of On Track Pro Shop, displays the difference between good and bad thumb timing and provides training drills.

Good and Bad Thumb Timing

Good thumb timing occurs when the thumb exits the bowling ball as close to 12 o’clock as possible. It rolls more end-over-end.

Thumb Timing 2

Bad thumb timing occurs when the hand comes around the side of the bowling ball and has more of a spinning motion. Lessening your grip pressure is vital to good thumb release timing and results in the bowling ball skidding through the heads, hooking in the midlane, and rolling end over end through the pins.

Kneel Down Drill

The release of the bowling ball happens in a fraction of second. In order to train for this, you’ll need to break down the process slowly before going full speed. Start by kneeling at the foul line. Your slide foot and knee should be pointed at the foul line while your other knee is resting on the approach.

Next, bump the ball forward, and then on the return, allow for a free arm swing and release. The goal is to keep your thumb as close to 12 o’clock as possible as it exits the thumb hole. This will train you to feel the lift of the ball off of your fingers.

Thumb Timing 3

One-Step Drill

Take one full step back from the foul line and get into your stance. Push the bowling ball away, and at the height of your backswing, begin to slide into your finish position. Your release should occur at the end of your slide. Remember to keep your thumb release timing close to 12 o’clock.

Thumb Timing 4

To continue improving the fundamentals, check out more bowling physical game tips from National Bowling Academy’s expert coaches.