bowling-tips bowling-balls bowling-approach bowling-ball-pins bowling-ball-pins

Two Finger Bowling Explained, and Tips on Hooking the Ball

After you’ve bowled for a little while, it’s natural to want to learn how to bowl with a hook. You’ve might have seen people in the adjacent lanes putting a huge curve on the ball and smashing it into the pins for strike a strike. We certainly don’t blame you; who wouldn’t want to do that regularly!

Most bowlers start experimenting with hooking by using a two finger release. With a little practice, this is very simple to do, and certainly has its advantages. But in this post, I’m going to point out why two finger hooking is not recommended, and what you ought to do instead.

First of all, two finger bowling means that you insert two fingertips (the middle and ring fingers) into the ball. The thumb is kept out. With so little of your hand in the finger holes, it is quite easy to generate a big hook. All you have to do is twist your fingers up and to the side of the ball as you release. Some bowlers rotate their wrist a bit as well. Practicing this for a few frames is usually all you’ll need to be hooking the ball. Another advantage is that you can do it with just about any house ball; it does not need to be custom fitted because you do not insert the thumb.

But this release very quickly will run into problems. Instead of using a straight arm backswing, you are forced to use a shorter, jerky “chicken wing” motion because you don’t have the added support of your thumb inside the ball. There is also a significant risk for wrist injuries. Your shot, while it might look impressive, will also be very hard to control. Generating consistency is the bane of the two finger bowler, and it is nearly impossible to adjust to different lane conditions. Bowling balls have a thumb hole for a reason; the thumb plays a major role in controlling your shot.

While it can be fun to spin the ball using a two finger hook, if you are serious about improving your game and bowling a consistently high average, you should start learning a proper hook, in which all three fingers are inserted into the ball.

In order to make this adjustment, it’s recommended to invest in your own bowling ball. The truth is, the only way to have a big hook and look like the pros while using an alley ball is to use a two finger spin. And in reality, this is radically different from what the pros are doing.

A good reactive resin ball (as opposed to cheap plastic or polyester) can be found at great prices online (we recommend, and you can take it to your local pro shop to get it drilled to your hand. Once you’ve made this small but important investment in your game, you can start practicing with a three finger grip, and after putting in some practice, you’ll realize why two finger hooking is so unreliable! Be sure to check out our bowling articles series here on for more tips on a proper bowling hook shot,


Want to improve your bowling game?

Download our best bowling content in a convenient, easy to read ebook format.

It\'s completely free and walks you through the bowling shot step-by-step, including proper grip, approach, release tips and more.

13 Responses to Two Finger Bowling Explained, and Tips on Hooking the Ball
  1. Adam
    February 7, 2012 | 8:23 pm

    I’m a two finger bowler on my strike ball and a 3 finger bowler on my spares… I have found the two finger method to be very effective and just like 3 finger bowling… After time the “consistency” comes. I carry a 200 average and have occasional series in the mid 700’s with 1 300 in league play… Been bowling 2 years. Unconventional methods are looked at as being inferior to traditional methods, I dont agree… Look at the current top bowler in the world… He Bowles two handed and has a very short an awkward backswing… Lary Bird has the worst looking jumpshot second only to Reggie miller, both considered to be the top shooters ever… To all you bowlers pushing the boundaries…. Keep going’

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      October 8, 2012 | 8:41 pm

      Adam, thanks for the comment. I enjoy hearing your perspective and definitely agree that consistency can be achieved with hard work no matter how many fingers of a grip you use. This article was mostly geared towards recreational bowlers who bowl on house patterns and don’t yet know the challenges of more difficult patterns they would encounter in leagues or tournaments. In a lot of cases, using a three-finger grip will lead to more consistency, but I’m glad that your experience (and that of others) proves that this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Best of luck.

  2. Leslie Malone
    July 30, 2014 | 12:05 pm

    I agree two finger bowling is controllable with hard practice, I see more bowlers unable to release there thumb using the traditional method or not even knowing they need to release the thumb first. Once I hit the lanes they try and imitate my two finger style with no success. The only major difference I see between the two styles is 3 finger bowlers can throw the ball faster with little control. “Nothing hits like a two finger bowler”

  3. lenny blanks
    November 18, 2014 | 12:14 pm

    I would like to say I am a no thumd bowler that has averaged 200 or more for 4 yes and have had people tel me they can’t tell that I’m not using my thumb. They also say tgey don’t hear the ball hit the lane when I throw it either. By the way another unconventional method is 2 hands and for the last 2 years they have been beating or better that the other pros so I don’t believe that conventional bowling methods are better just different in how they use the physics of the ball to get a strike. Mainly you need speed and consistency for good bowling scores

  4. Pat Johnson
    April 4, 2015 | 3:50 pm

    I have been bowling with two fingers for six years with a 212 average, 2 300 games and many 700 series. Consistency come with practice no matter how you do anything. All because three fingers is normal doesn’t make it right for everyone. I broke my wrist when i was 17 in a car accident and i can’t use 3 fingers, but i do put my thumb tip in sometimes and slightly turn my wrist towards my body about 10 degrees.

    • Daniel
      March 10, 2016 | 11:54 am

      I am right there with you, I could not throw a ball straight using 3 fingers so switched to 2 fingers, essentially because I broke my ulnar and have a plate in my arm from riding bulls, so the 2 fingers helps alot and i continue to get better each week.

      • Russ
        January 18, 2017 | 12:22 pm

        I had tommy John on my ucl!! I grew up playing baseball and continued into college, I was a terrible bowler with three fingers and was never comfortable!! I have only been bowling for a little over a year with 2 fingers and have been able to steadily get better!

  5. Cal lincoln
    June 10, 2015 | 6:05 pm

    I have been bowling for many years, and I have always bowled two finger style. I am now 50 and still bowling that way. I have been told that I look as smooth and controlled as any conventional 3 finger bowler. The important thing is to keep a consistent speed and release. Over turning or throwing to fast can develop in a very inconsistent result. To be successful, it takes practice and total concentration on the proper release and speed. Get that on the right track and you can score high often.

    • Anonymous
      December 21, 2015 | 4:28 pm

      If you’re good with 2 fingers and consistent you would be phenomenal with a fingertip ball.

  6. Bennett Fischer
    December 21, 2015 | 1:11 pm

    My wife just joined a bowling team, and she wants to make sure she does a pretty good job at it. That being said, I really appreciate you sharing with me some insight about how to properly throw a bowling ball. I definitely think that if my wife were to follow your insight, that she’d do a really good job. I’ll be sure to show this video to her right away. Thanks for your help.

  7. Kyle
    August 24, 2016 | 2:50 am

    I am a two finger bowler and just started a league not long ago. It’s true I have the highest rev rate and it’s a pain sometimes. I tried using my thumb but my ball just goes straight as an arrow. Even though my average is one of the lowest in the league I am definitely the most consistent. Not sure if that’s a plus being consistently low but ill take it! Ha

  8. Justin
    October 11, 2016 | 12:47 pm

    I’m a 2 finger bowler and I’ve had a 300 game as well as many 700 series its not that difficult to be consistent without your thumb in the ball, in saying that I can still average 210 in league with my thumb in the ball it doesn’t seem to affect my rev rate or consistency bowling with 2 fingers just feels more comfortable for me.

    Whenever I go to tournaments and things I’m constantly being told that the way I bowl is wrong but I generally have the highest average at the end of the event so I Dont understand how my bowling style could be wrong or inconsistent if I’m managing to keep up and even beat bowlers using there thumb.. I’m only a youth bowler btw

  9. Gutterball
    January 20, 2017 | 4:20 pm

    Dont let my name fool you lol. 2 finger bowlers have their advantages. I learned with a pro ball, if you flip it to where the thumb hole is on top instead of on bottom gives you less hook (cause of how the newer balls have one side of core bigger on one side). Try it

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL