Before you can think of getting strikes and spares, you need to know how to grip a bowling ball correctly. In this article, we’ll go over the basics to get you started. I will assume that you have either purchased a bowling ball fitted to your hand (by far the best option) or at least taken care to carefully choose the right house ball.
There are two basic grips in bowling, the conventional and fingertip, and some bowlers use a third type, the semi-fingertip.
The conventional grip is the most common, especially among beginners and intermediate bowlers, because it gives you the most control over the ball.
With the conventional grip, you simply insert your thumb all the way into the thumb hole, and then place the middle and ring fingers into the finger holes all the way so that it feels comfortable.
The conventional grip has advantages and disadvantages. For a beginner, the grip feels very secure and stable, and having this much of your hand inside the ball makes your shots more accurate. On the other hand, this also makes it harder to generate hook.
In contrast, the fingertip grip is typically reserved for bowlers who have used, and mastered, the conventional grip.
With the fingertip, you still insert your thumb all the way in, but you only put your middle and ring fingers in up to the first knuckle.
As you might guess, this makes the ball a little harder to control. However, it does cause increased hooking action due to greater lift and more revolutions, which leads to increased pin carry. The fingertip grip also requires a little more strength on the part of the bowler.
In between the conventional and fingertip grips, the semi-fingertip grip attempts to take the best from both of them. With this grip, you insert your middle and ring fingers up to the midway point between the first and second knuckle. It gives you the added security and accuracy of the conventional grip with a little more hooking action from the fingertip grip.
This rarer grip is not for everyone, however, and is usually not recommended unless you have experience with the fingertip grip.
Which Grip Is Right for Me?
If you are bowling with a house ball, then you should use the conventional grip. For the fingertip grip to be most effective, the ball needs to be perfectly fitted to your hand, which should really only be done by a professional at a pro shop.
Even if you have purchased your own ball, you should work for a while on improving your accuracy with a conventional grip before attempting the fingertip.
Once you’re consistently hitting your targets and scoring well, then you might want to consult with an advanced competitive bowler or coach when you first try to make the switch, as it can be difficult and you may be erratic at first.
Virtually all professionals use the fingertip grip, however, so if you have aspirations of bowling at a high level, a successful fingertip grip is something you’ll want to aspire to.
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