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How to Get Rid of a Backup Ball in Bowling

In bowling, one style of shot is the backup ball, which hooks in the opposite direction of a normal shot. (So a right-handed bowler’s shot would hook from left to right). Instead of the counter-clockwise wrist motion of a conventional hook, the backup bowler rotates the wrist in a clockwise direction. Some bowlers do this naturally and some are very successful. One such group is women, interestingly, who are said to be more physically predisposed to the motion. But for others, it’s not so easy to control and the question often comes up of how to get rid of the backup ball.

Fixing a Backup Ball and Switching to a Regular Shot

Since the backup ball is all in the wrist (rotating clockwise) getting rid of the shot requires re-training your wrist motion to straight or counter-clockwise. Since bowling habits are tough to break out of, this can take a while before you can erase the old motion from your muscle memory. There are a few ways to accomplish this.

You can train yourself to keep your palm pointed straight forward throughout the release and eventually your wrist action will correct away from the backup. But this can be difficult all by itself. Another option is to use a wrist support as you retrain your wrist motion, which gives you more help.

Yet another strategy is to engage in some focused practice away from the alley. Take a ball in your house on a carpeted surface and take some simple short swings. As you do, focus on your wrist position and emphasize correct rotation. This intermediate step can cut down some of the time it would take to re-train the wrist during real bowling sessions, as you can slowly increase to a full swing at game speed.

One of the necessary components to getting rid of a backup ball is patience and persistence. Remember that it won’t happen overnight. But do try to practice every day if you can (practice can just mean rolling a couple of shots in your living room) as it takes lots of repetitions to establish muscle memory.

Do you bowl with a backup motion? If so, is it by design, and do you think that you’d be more effective with a “conventional” release?


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5 Responses to How to Get Rid of a Backup Ball in Bowling
  1. liz lyons
    January 20, 2016 | 12:29 pm

    I love bowling. Unfortunately, I am not very good at it. I think doing some of these techniques with my wrist can really make a difference.

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      January 20, 2016 | 5:35 pm

      Glad you found the techniques helpful. Best of luck to you on the lanes!

  2. Jessie Harrison
    April 26, 2016 | 4:18 pm

    Whenever I’ve gone bowling I’ve used a backup ball. Since I started using that strategy I’ve done really bad. I’m just afraid to go back to a normal bowl. Thanks for sharing how to get back to a regular shot. Hopefully, I won’t be too bad next time I go.

  3. Chris Winters
    June 13, 2017 | 11:38 am

    I can see why the backup ball would really depend on your wrist motion. I have been wanting to practice and become a better bowler. I think that I should start going to the local bowling alley in order to get more practice and maybe even join a league.

  4. Alfred Weng
    December 27, 2017 | 10:58 am

    I’ve been bowling backup for more than 10years. It’s my natural release when i first started bowling & i can avg 180 & above, get clean games (only spares & strikes) & string strikes (7 or 8 strikes)
    Few years back tried conventional hook but just can’t get it right even though drilled a new ball just to bowl “normal” hook but gave up after afew months.
    Gave it a try again because a relative who is also a bowler willing to teach me the correct method of release (the conventional way)
    After a month of training & practice, finally got it right.. re-drilled a bowling ball & recently bought a new ball to drill conventional hook.
    It is not easy but it can be done. Trust me, i’ve tried twice (failed & gave up once) & u really need determination to do it.
    I won’t say i’ve “converted” to conventional hook because i will still fall back to bowling backup when conventional hook can’t get the results. Example during league or competition.
    Just wanna share my experience here to let those who are struggling to change their style of bowling to know….
    End of the day, you should have fun bowling.
    Don’t have to care about what others says if u are consistent enough & can produce good results.

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