The release in hook ball bowling is the most critical part for accuracy of the ball. To score well in bowling, you need a consistent release, throw after throw. When you have the thumb in the bowling ball, you need to release it cleanly on the downswing and keep it pointing straight up when you reach the moment of truth at the foul line for the release.
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The Release in Hook Ball Bowling Done Properly
Your wrist needs to be held firm but not too stiff. The arm needs to be loose, not tensed up, and the muscles of the arm and shoulder need to be as relaxed as possible on the follow through.
Try to keep you elbow tucked in close to your body as well. That will help to avoid problems later such as a sore elbow from poor technique. When get the release in hook ball bowling done properly, you get much better results
Keep The Arm Straight
I find some bending of the elbow after I release the ball with a straight arm follow through is more comfortable, but not very accurate.
You can read more here in my article, A Good Bowling Arm Swing.
Do what is right for you, do it the same each and every time, and your scores will improve, and you will get a good bowling ball hook.
The Release and The Thumb For Accurate Hook Ball Bowling
We take for granted the importance of our thumb in our daily lives. Our thumb allows us to pick up and grasp tools. This applies in holding on to our bowling ball as well. When bowlers today are getting started , they have many different styles, and some include not using the thumb.
A poor release can cause us a lot of problems if we fail to remove the thumb cleanly and correctly timed for good leverage and a smooth release.
Whether you throw a hook ball, or a straight ball, I think you have likely experienced this and know exactly what I am referring to.
If you are trying to get good forward roll on a straight pitch, you have to have the thumb out on the downswing at the very last second, to get good rotation on the ball as it leaves you hand.
Get The Thumb Out Cleanly
In hook bowling the “one thing to do properly”, is getting the thumb cleanly out of the ball. Begin by feeling the ball rest on your fingers. Then, in about a 2 inch motion up from the bottom of the down swing, turn the hand. Continue the follow-through motion, and rotate the ball as it is leaving your hand.
You should end up with your hand “thumb up” and arm raised and in a position of “shaking hands with the pins”.
If the thumb stays in the ball too long past the downswing, You won’t get a proper release. It becomes difficult to follow thru with rotation, because the thumb will interfere or hold back the motion. The result is a pulled shot, or complete lack of rotation. This definitely is not a clean release. It will produce an inaccurate shot or less ball turn, and most likely less pin carry.
Learn To Feel The Leverage With Your Fingers
One way to practice the hook motion is to throw a foam football underhand into a chair at home. As you do this, try to impart turn or rotation on the football. You can practice lifting or releasing pressure with the thumb first. You can also do this with a softball, and practice throwing the ball to yourself and spinning the ball.
When you bowl you want to feel the weight of the ball on the tips of your fingers, the moment before you release the ball.
On the down swing, before you turn the ball, try to feel for the thumb to come out of the ball. At that moment, you should feel the weight of the ball on your fingers, allowing you to gain leverage with your fingers.
Practice to obtain a “feel” for that moment your thumb is out and the ball rests on your fingers. That is the moment you are “lifting the ball” or applying the “turn to the ball”. The trick is to come up through the ball without turning your arm or getting around the outside of the ball.
Practice at doing this should make a dramatic difference in your game. Your ability to throw more consistent shots should improve as well.
Here is a demonstration of these drills that can be done at home.
Thumbs’ Up for the Release
Always keep the thumb pointing straight up, shake hands with the pins as you follow through and finish your arm swing.
Don’t turn the thumb into your body, and don’t turn it away from your body. Practice finishing the arm swing as if you went going to touch your ear with your thumb pointing straight up. Thumb’s up for the release.
Grip Pressure Affects The Release In Hook Ball Bowling
When bowlers grip the ball too tightly, it makes the ball harder to release. Bowlers sometimes think their thumb is too small, so they have the thumb hole opened up or fitting too loosely. They are causing the thumb to feel tighter by gripping too tightly. When you relax your grip you can have a more snug fit on the thumb hole in your ball.
Bending the thumb inside the ball is another common issue that makes the thumb hole feel tight. It also will cause a blister on the back of the thumb or rip skin loose. A painful condition that takes the joy out of bowling. Keep the thumb straight, and grip with the pad of the thumb second joint. You will find the ball releases much easier.
Bowling Thumb Tape, Socks and Gloves
To get a good smooth release feel for the thumb, you may want to try some thumb tape on the back side of your thumb. This allows less friction in the ball and helps with a smoother release. I use the tape and I like it a lot, but I am considering trying a glove for myself.
Update: You can read about how I eventually did try Bowling with a Glove. I liked it, but did eventually go back to a conventional style without a glove.
The people I have spoken to about bowling gloves are pleased with the results. I think for older bowlers, they would help the arthritis in those hand and finger joints. Today they have various ways to improve the release of the thumb.
A bowling thumb sock is a newer type of equipment design. It is exactly what it sounds like, a sleeve that slips over your thumb. Many bowlers like the performance of the thumb sock.
Interchangeable Thumb Systems
Talk to your local pro shop for more information on interchangeable thumb insert systems. They allow you to use one thumb insert, and quickly change it into any other ball you are using.
If you experiences excessive thumb swelling, and constantly add or remove tape trying to get the feel of the thumb with tape, try the interchangeable thumb system. This enables a quick change to another ball, while keeping the thumb feel exactly the same.
I hope this gives you some ideas to improve your release, and get higher scores. If you liked what you read or have any questions, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
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