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The Importance of a Proper Bowling Grip

Bowling with Leverage

by David A. Leverage
David A. Leverage is a Former exempt PBA Player, Silver level certified coach,
an ASU Bowling Alumni member, A 6 time PBA titleist, has (40) 300 games
and owns 2 Phoenix area Pro Shops.


"Thumb and finger pitches"

As I was watching my good friend Dave Rasmussen bowl last month, I noticed something very important on one of his shots that he threw which got me to thinking. You see the proper (or improper) grip of the bowling ball can have a dramatic effect on somebody's ability to score better. When we talk about grip we are talking mainly about the pitches in which your fingers go into the ball. For instance if you have "zero-zero" pitch in the thumb hole that means your thumb hole goes down directly towards the core of the bowling ball. If you have "reverse" thumb pitch your thumb goes in at a slightly different angle opposite of where your fingers are. Why is this important? This can be monumentally important because the proper pitches can allow you to "clear" the thumb hole cleanly at the release point allowing you to make better and more repeatable shots. My friend Dave had "zero-zero" pitch in his thumb hole and has had it for quite sometime. A few weeks ago I noticed on one particluar shot that he hung up in the ball and did not clear the thumb cleanly and that was the tell tale sign. The next day we changed his thumb pitches and what a difference. He was now able to clear the thumb consistently and with less effort and within 10 days of doing this he shot a 290 game, a 300 game, and a 796 series! YES, the proper thumb pitches can make a difference!

Back in the "day", meaning the 70's 80's and even into the 90's, Pro Shops would drill spans which were too long. Now at the time everybody was doing it ( like Steroids in baseball in the 90's) so nobody knew it was wrong. But as more and more people would have wrist, hand, elbow and shoulder pains from bowling, people began to realize that something was wrong. Some people have been using the same ball for years and they are unaware that their span is even too long or needs adjustment. Other bowlers simply buy a new ball and ask to have their grip "matched" to their current balls. However if they have been using a span which has been too long for 10 or 20 years they are doing themselves a disservice. You want your hand to simply fit into the ball as opposed to having to stretch the hand to reach the finger holes. If your span is too long it will put a lot of stress on your hand and can cause multiple issues up and down your bowling arm.

"Thumb hole size"
In a perfect world you want a thumb hole which is custom fit to YOUR thumb. We like the thumb hole to be more on the tighter side rather than big and loose. People usually ask for a bigger thumb hole but this actually causes them to "squeeze" or "grab" the ball more. So tighter is better so long as you can get out of the ball consistently. Take your thumb and point it back towards your face. In 80-90 percent of the time, a persons thumb is going to have more of an oval shape rather than a round shape. The problem is the drill bits are round and your thumb is most likely wider side to side. So if you drill a round hole to fit the widest part of your thumb, it will leave a void on the front and back of your thumb hole. Most people then put tape in the front and/or back of the thumb to create an oval shape and a tighter fit. It is better to rather shape the actual thumb hole in the ball to a more oval shape thus requiring less tape. It is also important to note, you should put any tape on the "backside" of the thumbhole. By putting it on the frontside you are actually lengthening your span everytime you put in a piece of tape.

"Thumb hole problems"
Over the years, trying to get each thumb hole to be the exact same has been virtually impossible until now. The grip companies have now come out with what they call "interchangeable" thumbs. What is this? Well basically it is a thumb sleeve that goes from ball to ball so every thumb is exactly the same as the others. These are a relativly new innovation to bowling and has made our lives MUCH easier as ball drillers. If you are having any issues with this I highly recommend giving them a try.

As a bowling coach here in the valley it gives me the greatest pleasure when I get to see the bowlers who I work with do some special things on the lanes so as a new feature I would like to recognize those bowlers who have accomplished something on a monthly basis so here goes.
Dave Rasmussen 300 (#2), Richard Anderson 300 (#2), John Evans 300 one night and 819 series on another, Kim Rasmussen 63 average last year raised to 116 so far this year.....
Proof that working on your bowling game has its rewards!!!

Thank you to all of the people who have been emailing in real questions and ideas for upcoming articles. We always appreciate any and all input as we are always aspiring to help and educate bowlers so they can knock down more pins. As always you may email me at:

"TEXT the Coach" As a new feature if you are having a problem and need a quick answer to that problem, send me a text message during your next practice session, league session, or tournament and I will do my best to reply in a timely manner. Text to 6025505788.