Bowling Hand Release Techniques

Bowling hand release techniques are as important in today’s game as ever. Everybody wants to get the highest amount of revs on their ball as possible. It is fun and flashy to watch, but does it really help to get higher scores? All you need to do is watch the two-handed bowlers. A consistent bowler, hitting the pocket on each shot combined with proper hand release techniques, results in more strikes.

Lane conditions can cause the need for changing our release techniques. On tight lanes where the oil is heavier, I have the most turn on the ball to allow the ball to travel to the pocket with the best angle for carrying strikes. As the lanes break down, I soften up my hand to reduce the hook that affects the path of the ball. How is this accomplished?

Bowling Hand Release Techniques and Position

This could be the tool in your bowling arsenal that makes the game easier for you to control. Using three different hand positions, can help you score better.

Inside Finger Position for Maximum Revs

The technique I use is keeping my lift fingers in the inside finger position and fully behind the ball when I follow thru with my downswing. As I reach the area of my foot, I remove the Ball Finger Position -maximum Revs-Bowling Hand Release Techniquesthumb and start to turn the ball.

As I follow thru, the lift fingers follow the arm swing and go up through and impart the most turn or revolutions (Revs) on the ball, that I can get.

This works great when the lanes are oily. But, as the lanes break down, the ball starts to hit higher and leave stone 9’s or corner pins or worse.

This is when I need to soften up my hand, and take some turn off the ball, to reduce the back-end reaction. So, need to reduce some turn on the ball, and go to the neutral finger position.

Neutral Finger Position for Medium Revs

Bowling Hand Release Techniques- Neutral Revs

To reduce the turn on the ball, I move my hand position towards the middle of the ball, placing my lift fingers in a more neutral position behind the ball. This reduces the area or length of time my hand has to impart turn on the ball,

The result is less revs applied to the ball.This works well on a lighter oil pattern or later in the game as well. Impart the same lift and speed on the ball, otherwise, your ball will not carry the pins correctly. Keep everything the same, but change the position of your fingers in relationship to the ball. If you need even less turn on the ball, then move your fingers to the outside finger position.

Outside Finger Position for Minimum Revs

For the least amount of turn and lowest rev rate, position the fingers towards the outside of Image showing proper finger position starting outside for minimum Revs-Bowling Hand Release Techniquesthe ball. This will allow the lift to be in the position of putting more forward roll on the ball and allow the ball to react much less on the back-end.

Minimum revs will work best when you have extremely dry lanes this will give you the longest straightest path with the least turn on the ball.

More Revs, More Skid

I had always thought that the more revs the ball had, the sooner it would start to turn towards the path to the pocket. But, as it turns out, that is not the case. The ball with more revs will actually skid longer through the oil. When it exits the oil pattern it will have a stronger back-end reaction to the pocket. And the ball with less revs will skid less and have less back-end reaction. Now this is with both balls thrown at the same speed as well.

This makes sense, when you think about it. A ball turning more rapidly, is going to have a harder time gaining any friction on the oil. A slower turning ball will be able to bite a little easier. Similar to spinning your car tires in a slick turn. The faster you spin the tires, the less traction you have.

Rev Control is Easier Than Trying to Control Speed

I have always tried to use ball speed. I like to throw a harder faster ball. So, when the lanes are oily, I try to keep the ball slower to allow the ball more time to react. And on drier lanes, just the opposite. However, is seems that the revs on the ball have more effect than changing speed. This got my attention. Honestly, I had never thought about it.

The bottom line is, it is easier to control the amount your hand is turned, than keeping the ball speed exactly the same every time. Now, don’t take that wrong, you must try to keep the ball at the same speed as well. I am just saying, it is a simple adjustment, but you have to practice to get the feel for it.

Begin Young for Best Rev Development

Here is a video from USBC, describing the best times in your life to begin training for the best results in the natural development for increasing rev rates. They mention that trying too hard to increase your revs causes you to clench the ball too tightly. The result is less revs. A relaxed hand is best.




I looked at some of the comments on this video and have to think that they are giving it a bad rap. It is being understood as the only way to increase rev rates. I believe it is telling us that specific training for the best results in our age development, must be started early. But, I think that various techniques can improve rev rates. Now, I am talking about small changes in the rev rate, using the one handed technique.  It is possible to create some substantial increase in revs by using the two handed bowling technique.


A Simple Method to Control Revs

USBC coach Joe Slowinski  teaches this technique to control revs for one handed bowlers .

It is called the  “Simple Method to Change the Amount of Revs” ” It’s as easy as 5-6-7″, says Joe. He likens the hand positions to a clock dial with the strongest position being  with the fingers at the 5 oclock position for the most revs. Then the 7 o’clock position is the least amount of revs. He also talks about the skid and push controlling hook on the backend.

I learned a similar technique quite a few years ago, using different wording but basically the same rules apply. I bowled in a league on the same team with a very good bowler who was inducted into our local hall of fame. He offered to teach me how to bowl with a hook, if I would bowl for his team.

I was fortunate because I learned to throw a hook ball and that is the style he taught me for controlling the revs on the ball as well. Always use the same amount of lift and release the ball the same each time. Ideally start to release around your foot or ankle. Keep your ball speed the same, and use the same marks to target your shot. He didn’t label it as a 5-6-7 method, but did explain the effect of hand position on the ball rotation or revs.

Hitting the Ball to Increase Revs

The whole idea is to increase or decrease the amount of revs by using more or less amount of actual spin motion. Sometimes it will change the path and action of the ball to start striking again. However, I did like how Joe gave it specific positions for the lift fingers. It makes it easier to hold each position. I personally use between a 5 and 6 position most often. When I felt I needed to get more revs, i turned my hand inside more to “Hit the ball” a little bit, or add some more turn. If I needed less, I turned my hand  toward the outside of the ball to reduce the revs, and soften the  turn on the ball.

Skid and Push

I always described the ball that went farther down the lane as sliding through the oil and getting the ball down the lane farther. Joe describes this as skid and push. Apparently while the ball is in the oil it is skid. But when it exits the oil, then it is referred to as push. Interesting! Both work together. Increase your skid, you also increase your push down the lane and gain a delayed back-end reaction.

There are times in the bowling game you will have some oil carry down from all the bowling and that will affect the back-end reaction as well. Always keep that in mind as a possibility, and using this technique could help overcome that condition. By adding a few more revs, you can get a stronger finish.

And those drier lanes can be controlled easier as well as well with a softer throw. After some practice, you may get to like using hand position to improve your game. Don’t forget about the little finger to help as well. spreading the little finger out, cuts the revs also. Tucking the little finger tight against the lift fingers increases revs.

Wrist Supports

I personally like to use a wrist support. Wrist supports make it easier for me to maintain the same hand position.  Some bowlers think they are a crutch and tell others not to use them. i think it is a matter of personal preference. If it helps to make your game easier, then why not?

My personal preference has been the Pro Release(extended)  by Moro. However, Moro may have discontinued that model.

One made by Robby seems to be very similar in design and several bowlers tell me they like using it. Here is a link to the Robby Wrist Support.

Good luck and good bowling.


If you enjoyed this article or have any questions, please leave me a comment below.



10 thoughts on “Bowling Hand Release Techniques”

  1. I will chime in on this one. This is a point I never new about. The gentleman who was coaching me never told me about this. I can see where more revs on dry surface makes the ball react crazy. I can also see where the less revs you get on dry lines, the shot tends to be more consistent when the hand position is changed.

    What I find during league is that you really don’t get enough warm ups to see what your bowling ball is doing on a set lane condition. Most of the time, two or maybe three balls is all you get. I am sure this is a problem in most four or five person team leagues.

    This article is very helpful and I will refer to it when I start having trouble figuring out the lanes. Of course, your ball speed must be constant and consistent when bowling.

    • Hi Richard,
      First, consistency is the key! You must be hitting the same line all the time, before changing anything else.
      Some people totally disagree with me on changing hand position, so take it with a grain of salt. I call it softening my hand, and do it slightly! If you make too much of a drastic change you lose the angle and dilute pin carry. Practice this first, and see if it works for you!
      I may try it and it will go into the pocket with too straight. Now, if I am on a really dry shot, this may still work with a target or foot move on my next shot. I all depends on the conditions, for me! I may just relax the amount I am cupping my wrist, and it is all I need.
      But, remember you have to follow thru with the same amount of finger,to keep rotation on the ball. Regardless of where I position my fingers at the start of my throw, I make sure I release it at the same point correctly! And ball speed is key to any adjustment you make!
      Thanks for the comment, and please stop back!

  2. Think this would really help, but need to understand more clearly. I’m left handed so trying to reverse your instructions. Also, I bowl on Tues. morning Senior league & have a 170 Av., but on Wed. Senior League I am lucky to have 159 Av., because ball reacts so odd on the lanes. Tues. the Alley is open from 10 am – 11 pm. It seems as if the lanes aren’t cleaned after all that bowling because my ball not only has the circle of oil around it, but “splatters” of oil as if it was dropped into a puddle. It doesn’t open on Wed. until our league at 1 pm. I only have a speed of about 11 rpm, but thinking I have to slow it even more. Any advice would be helpful.

    • HI Isabel,
      Your theory on the lanes not being dressed with fresh oil is likely correct. Splatters of oil may indicate some problems with the lane machine not oiling the lanes properly. Anyway,you can try moving over a few boards to your left, and bowl on the outer boards. They are most time drier outside the second arrow from the gutter. That will help you ball hook more if you throw a hook, or get you outside the oil pattern that is messed up from the night before. My bowling alley is guilty of not dressing the senior lanes from the night before. They are not sanctioned so they don’t worry about dressing the lanes. Hope that helps? Good luck!

  3. I ran into the 5,6,7 thumb positions a couple of months ago, but it didn’t inform me as to which created a better or lesser hook. This article give me the information I need. Thank you for a very useful and helpful article.

    • HI Lisle,
      Great to hear it helped you out! You are welcome! I hope it makes your bowling more enjoyable!
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  4. Great article! This has really taught me how to release a bowling ball specifically. I never knew the techniques and how easy it could be. Without this article I would probably still be terrible at bowling. I will make sure to use these techniques when bowling with my family again. Thank you!

    • Hi Diego,

      I am glad you found the article helpful. These techniques are more for the league bowler, where you are dealing with the conditions changing during the game. When you bowl with the family, on open bowling conditions, the lanes will be mostly dry and the pattern can be destroyed. Fresh oil is helpful for aiding the ball control to the pocket, or creating a line for bowlers. You can read more here in my article Dry Lane Bowling.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment


  5. So, I actually and secretly LOVE bowling but it is a secret because i pretty much suck at it when you think about it in terms of scoring. Its weird because there are times when i actually do pretty good through out an entire game and not so good the next 3, lol. I thought this was a very comprehensive guide to understanding the fundamentals of bowling while gaining much insight on the particulars that can make anyone an expert! I’d love to see how these techniques translates to a video game (of no particular kind) involving simulated bowling. What do you think?

    • I don’t play the video games much, but I could envision the possibilities. They may already have the video game somewhere. It would be a way to control the amount of hook you impart to the ball, just by the position of your hand. 



Leave a Comment