Where would one start when trying to learn to spin a bowling ball?

I've seen people bring the bowling bowl up into their elbow (inner part), then somehow manage to put a spin on it completely with the whole arm, while having it run straight..then at the end spin hard. No luck in my recent attempts though.

Any advice other than keep practicing?


3 Answers 3


Surprised there wasn't more attention in the post edmastermind29 gave when they discuss buying a bowling ball. There is a huge difference in bowling ball types.

If you pick up a ball that the lanes provide for you to use at the bowling alley... they are (covered with) plastic. Those balls are not designed to hook much, and without extreme techniques, you won't be able to do anything to them.

Balls you purchase from the pro shop are generally covered with something that grips much more strongly. A reactive resin ball, drilled with a fingertip grip (and an asymmetric core)... is a pretty common setup you'll find when purchasing your own. They sell plastic balls as well, but really only for picking up spares (where you want it to be straighter).

What are the extreme techniques to hook a plastic ball? The only way I know to get good hook on plastic (polyester) balls is to take the thumb out of the bowling ball (or hold it with no fingers in the ball whatsoever). Then, when you are just nearing the last part of the walkup, twist it violently sideways with your wrist to get it spinning [picture if your hand (palm up) were under someone's hand, and then you quickly tried to slap the top of their hand). If you can get that type of sideways twist on the ball right before throwing it, it will hook... but it's very hard to control because you don't have much grip on the ball. With a reactive ball like you'd purchase at a store, it really is just about throwing the ball straight (bowl as if you are trying to shake hands with the pins), and then the ball does all the work.

I found a video about bowling ball types that is fairly interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDUl1512EaY
http://www.bowlingball.com/BowlVersity/bowling-ball-coverstock-classifications also goes into more details on the coverings used for bowling balls. Basically, if it isn't plastic, it should naturally hook some. It's not a skill as much as it is the equipment, unless you have someone bowling two-fingered (does occasionally happen, but no pros bowl that way that I know of).


The actual technique for bowling with a hook is surprisingly simple when you learn about it. Many people when first trying to hook will do a lot of things to try to make their hand spin the ball. In fact, most of the work adding the proper spin (or rotation) to the ball is handled by gravity and a proper ball fit.

  1. Get a fingertip drilled ball that fits your hand properly. It should take very little grip pressure to keep the ball on your hand - if you would break an egg, or hurt a baby bird with the amount of grip pressure you're using, your ball doesn't fit.
  2. With your hand in the ball and a firm, straight wrist, let the ball hang by your side. Turn your hand a bit so that your palm is facing forward and to the left (for a right hander).
  3. When delivering the ball, your thumb will come out first. This will cause the ball to roll down your hand, giving it leftwards rotation, before coming off your fingers.

The motion is very similar to throwing an underhand spiral football. This article from Ron Clifton also covers the basic hook release, and his article archive is a great place to learn about the basics of bowling.


Lifting with the fingers will do little to hook the ball, depending on the core and cover stock, some will be more aggressive than others. The best was is to add a little twist to the ball, Think of tossing a football spiral pass underhand.

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