The release is a crucial part of the bowling shot: all the hard work of your grip, stance, and approach come together and you actually get to send the bowling ball down the lane and hit the pins. (Be sure to understand the bowling approach before reading.)
A proper release technique is important because a small change in movement or jerk of the hand can have major effects on the path of the ball, and this can be the difference between a strike and a gutterball.
Keys to the Bowling Release
A common mistake is to think of the bowling release as separate from the rest of your swing. In reality, it is intimately connected to the approach, and your entire bowling delivery needs to be one smooth, fluid motion to have success.
After you take your final step and start the slide, the bowling ball will just have crossed your leg and be at its lowest point. Be sure that your plant foot is aimed at your target and prepare to let go of the ball.
The first thing to do is release the thumb from the thumb-hole. Next, lift your two remaining fingers up and out of the ball in a swift motion.
Neither your wrist nor forearm should twist or turn to either side when you release the ball; it should be kept straight. You also need to be sure to keep your shoulders square square to your target.
The follow through is also important for a strong release. After you have let go of the ball, keep your balanced position and continue your forward armswing. Your arm should end up pointing towards the target and your shoulder should still be straight.
Timing Is Everything
It is very important to release the ball at the right time. Many bowlers release it too early, before they have reached the foul line with their slide. As a result, they essentially drop the ball on the lane instead of releasing it smoothly. This results in a loss of both power and accuracy, so make sure your arm has crossed your body and your foot is sliding right up to the foul line before starting your release.
Bowling Release – Hook Bowling
While many of the points regarding timing and smoothness are the same for all bowling styles, a hook bowler needs to be aware of more things at the release point. This section will introduce what else you’ll need to work on.
At the beginning of the release, after the thumb exits the ball, straight bowlers keep their arms straight. For a hook bowler, however, the forearm should rotate slightly sideways at this point, in a counterclockwise motion for right-handed bowlers and clockwise for left-handers.
The two remaining fingers simultaneously come out of the bowling ball up and to the side of the ball. This motion, known as the “lift,” puts the right spin on the bowling ball so that it moves forward for a while before hooking at the end into the pocket.
With a hook release, the hand still ends up pointing towards your target, but in your follow-through, the motion should look as though you were preparing to give a handshake.
Although there are many different bowling techniques, the same fundamentals of timing always apply to your release. When you’re practicing, be sure to get your footwork in sync with your armswing.
This is certainly one part of the game where you’ll need to give it a good deal of trial and error, but if you keep at it, you’ll see your scores start to really improve!
Next Article: How to Bowl a Hook: A Detailed Guide