Today’s Game Is Built on Creating Hook – bowling technique – Brief Article

Parker Bohn, Iii

As modern bowlers become more comfortable with playing the the sport, they begin to focus on generating a sharp angle to the pocket for maximum pin carry

OVER THE YEARS, BOWLING HAS changed greatly, in regard to the way the players throw the ball. Bowlers used to throw the ball down and in and fairly straight, but in today’s game most players try to hook the ball more and more, from very early in the morning to the last ball thrown in the evening. Players have realized that with more hook they can create more power, which in turn can create a bigger pocket and the potential for knocking down more pins.


When most players learn to bowl, they usually have a simple three-, four-, or five-step approach that enables them to walk rapidly to the foul line and roll the ball at a comfortable speed straight toward the pins. When you roll the ball in that way, your technique is simple: Your feet are on the approach pointed toward the pins, your shoulders are squared, parallel to the foul line, and your eyes are riveted on your target. As you begin your approach, your hand is in a comfortable, relaxed position, with your wrist straight and your thumb at about 12 o’clock on the back face of the ball.

Your swing is an easy pendulum motion hanging straight from your shoulder; it swings back and forward past your ankle and delivers the ball with a smooth release directly over your target and on through to the pins. The thumb exits the ball easily and the ball rolls off the palm of the hand. The fingers come up through the back of the ball with no exaggerated motion whatsoever. Typically the down-and-in player, when going through his approach, will time it so that his slide foot reaches the foul line at the same moment the ball reaches his ankle.

This approach is common among beginners, but it’s much more successful than that. The greatest players of the `50s, `60s, and even the `70s used this style with fantastic results.


However, with the changes over time in the great sport of bowling, especially the revolution in modern balls, players have been able to hook the ball more. Since the early ’70s equipment has come out on the market that has made it easier than ever to hook the ball. And within the last decade, balls with stronger hooking potential than ever have become available.

With more hook in their hands, players have found their game has changed. There are fewer down-and-in players and many more players who rely on a significant amount of hook for success in their everyday game. Hook can be acquired simply by going down to the pro shop and buying a new ball, but your pro shop operator also can drill a ball to enhance or lessen its hooking potential. And added to this equation is the way bowlers’ games have changed.

Bowlers nowadays still pick up their ball and step onto the approach the way they did many years ago. However, the big difference is that now they’re hooking the ball more than ever. When a player like this gets on the approach, he has his feet set up in a position like before, but now he may be anywhere from five to 30 boards deeper on the approach than before, with his eyes much focused further to the right for a righthander, to the left for a lefty. His hand position is also more cupped, which allows him to generate greater action at the point of release.

When walking up to the foul line during his delivery, this type of player gets his feet to the foul line just a bit before the ball. His shoulders are open, unlike the squared posture of the down-and-in player. As with a down-and-in player, the ball swings in a pendulum motion, back and forward past the ankle; however, as the ball comes toward the modern player’s ankle, the thumb will release and the player will rotate his hand around the ball, deliberately lifting the ball with his fingers to create a form of spin that sends the ball further down the lane and makes the break point much more pronounced. Today’s player generates as much power as possible with his fingertips and wrist to create the spin necessary to get the ball to the part of the lane–the break point–that gives him the best angle of entry to the pocket.

I should reiterate that another major difference between the down-and-in player and today’s player besides hooking is that today’s player opens his shoulders in relation to the foul line. This enables the player to throw the ball away from the pocket, using a combination of his ability and the characteristics of his ball to control the hook and the angle to the pocket.

Hooking the ball is great, but one thing you don’t want to forget is still converting your spares. Making spares is still the most important key to success in most competitive situations.

No one throws a strike every ball, which is why filling frames is very important. And the best way to make 90% of your spares is still hard and straight at your target. That’s why the down-and-in bowler can still be very successful in today’s game–because he’ll fill frames. If you combine those skills with the modern emphasis on hooking, you’ll be a well-rounded bowler who has a chance to achieve perfection at any level, whether that’s a 300 game, a tournament championship, or whatever goal you’re striving for.

Generating more hook is definitely a help in knocking down more pins on most conditions today. But there still are conditions in today’s game that you’ll want to play like the down-and-in bowler of years ago. In either case, pick out the one that suits you best–knock over as many pins as possible, and have fun.

You can hook the ball as much as you want, but if you don’t know where it’s going it’s not much of an advantage for you. Hooking the ball from coast to coast but leaving a lot of splits doesn’t do you any good at any level.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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