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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 Amazon.com), 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 BeginnerBowlingTips.com for more tips on a proper bowling hook shot,

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2 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.

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