Subject: throwing a hook
I have been bowling since I was 8 years old, I have never been much more than a 120 average bowler. My husband has always called me a backup bowler. I am right handed, I used to stand on the left side and aim for the 4th dot in order to hit the pocket. My ball always would curve to the right. So, enough history, earlier this year I have been trying desperately to learn how to throw a hook. I have a Storm ball (I'm not sure at the moment which one exactly but I've been told it is a good ball.) I've been trying since April and my ball would always spin like a top. My husband tells me it's my release. Now he has me throwing the ball as though I was a straight ball bowler and the ball does just that..it goes straight. I am at my wits end. My husband says that when I release it that my hand is like a claw but pointing upward. I have a 4 step approach, I can never figure out how much to bend down without my husband telling me that I'm dropping my shoulder. Please help me, any advice would be appreciated!!
ANSWER: It sounds like you may have a grip issue. When undo grip pressure is necessary to hold onto a ball, the elbow sometimes comes into play with female bowlers. When tightening muscles in your arm, to help hold onto the ball, your elbow could be tucking in, causing your wrist and hand to rotate left to right. The result, you deliver the ball straight or even rolling the ball left to right (a backup hook).
If you can position the ball in front of your armpit with the thumb at 10 o'clock. Try to swing the ball, straight back and straight forward. Keep the hand position throughout the approach, swing, and delivery. As you roll the ball, continue the hand forward (toward your target)and up, like throwing an imaginary glass of water up and over your right shoulder. Maintaining the hand position will provide the axis tilt you want.
Most bowlers try to turn the ball to much and take much of the needed energy away with too much rotation, overturning the shot. Throw with this hand position for awhile, you need to break down your current muscle memory and create a new and different feel as you bowl.
You will also want to incorporate less bend at the waist and more bend of the knees. Start with an athletic stance, with bent knees helping absorb some of the bounce and wobble, as you take your 4 step approach. A slight bend at the waist, for balance, will help. As you move forward keep the shoulders up, maintain the position of your back, like in the stance, for leverage. Work on your stance, approach and straight swing before you concentrate on the hand position and learning to hook the ball. Your ability to duplicate the stance, approach and swing will help greatly when learning to control a hook delivery.
Working on one change at a time, and throwing at least 30-50 shots, will help breakdown current muscle memory, and allow you to learn the new elements of your game.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I first just wanted to say "thank you for your time and advice." I now have realized what the problem is and you were right on about me gripping the ball. I just bought a new ball a "Hammer Anger." I am struggling with the fact of not holding on to it for dear life because I'm afraid it will fall out of my hand on the back swing. I have also realized now that instead of releasing the ball when I come down that I have been releasing it out in front of me, "airborne" if you can get the picture. I am so frustrated right now and for all of you guys out there reading this I'm sure you'll get a good laugh but I cried. I am so very, very, frustrated and I so desperately want to be a really great bowler. When I was a backup bowler I could bowl 140's, 150's, I have probably bowled 3 200 games my entire life. I really, really, want to master this sport. It is such a blow to my pride to watch the "98" pin bowler that we bowl against (who I used to dance circles around) beat my measly 89, 90, 105 games. I am hoping that with alot of practice that I can somehow turn things around and get "back in the game." My thumb has not been coming out first so now that and my release point are the 2 things I am trying to master at the moment. I try so very, very, hard, I know why I grip the ball for fear that on the backswing it will fall out of my hand.
Answer: Without seeing you play, I can't know what is holding you back, or frustrating your efforts. But, remember you are adjusting muscle memory, altering your approach and changing the speed (possibly) and rotation of your shots. It will NOT come quickly.
Work on ONE thing at a time. Please be patient. The game is played on a little more than a 40inch wide playing field. You need to begin to feel yourself duplicating what you do. Consistency is your first objective. So, minimal grip pressure is a huge benefit.
Your ball is probably to strong for what you want to do. A strong cover like the Anger needs oil. Do you throw very hard? With a stronger ball you run into the possibility that you need to overcome your ball reaction, bad idea. Keep in mind that the lane you practice on may be very different then the lanes you bowl league on, too.
Give yourself little successes for Christmas, they will add up to a more consistent game. A world class runner started out with baby steps. Good bowling.
Questions? contact me at: email@example.com
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