Curving the ball is a popular technique that some players use. This article will help you to understand why do bowling balls curve, is this method helpful, and how to do or avoid it.
What is a curving ball?
Curving or hooking the ball is a bowling technique when the bowling ball starts to curve after you threw it. There are several reasons why bowling ball curves.
Why do bowlers throw a curve?
Many bowlers curve the ball to increase its force of it, which greatly improves the chance to make a strike.
Curving the ball also lets players achieve a better angle and hit the 1-3 or 1-2 pin pockets, which adds to your chances of getting a strike or at least better scoring.
Can you do a strike without curving the ball?
Usually, you can’t throw a strike without hooking the ball because you need to hit a 1-3 or 1-2 pocket to get a strike. It is still possible to hit a strike while throwing the bowling ball straight if the ball has a lot of speed. But it is a super rare situation, and it will be much more helpful to learn how to hook the ball.
How does curving the ball work?
The bowling ball hook helps you to hit all the pins with more force, but it isn’t the main reason why players use this trick.
When you throw the bowling ball at the center, it is very hard to knock down all the pins. Usually, some pins will still stand in the corners of the bowling lane. The solution to this problem is to hook the ball.
When you hook the bowling ball, it hits the 1-3 (if you’re a right-handed bowler) or 1-2 (if you’re a left-handed bowler) pocket.
The biggest chance to get a strike is to use this bowling ball motion and hit the bowling ball in one of these two angles.
When the ball hits these pockets, it forms a 90-degree angle, which knocks down 4 other pins in a row. When the bowling ball moves further, it makes another 90-degree angle and hit the other 3 pins. Finally, the bowling ball knocks down the remaining 3 pins, and you get a strike.
How do bowlers make the ball curve?
To curve the ball, you need to put some spinning into your motions. The key is in your ring and middle fingers, which are positioned in the two holes next to each other. You need to use these two fingers close to the bottom of the arm swing, which will put spinning force on the bowling ball. You will also need to use your thumb.
Five steps to curve ball
- Firstly, put your fingers in the gripping holes for fingertip grip.
- Secondly, sway the ball back in a usual motion.
- Thirdly, when you start to sway the bowling ball forward and get to the lowest part of this action, remove your thumb.
- Then continue the swing, but when you push away the bowling ball, use your ring and middle finger to rotate it upwards and a little bit to the side, away from yourself. When you release the bowling ball, your fingers should be on the side of the ball.
- Finally, if everything is done correctly, you will see that the bowling ball rolls straight but starts to curve in the middle of the lane, creating a hook.
Some players leave the two fingers in and have their thumb on the side of the ball, but this action can cause a sprained wrist because the bowling ball can turn too quickly in your hand.
Tips to hook the ball
- When choosing the target, it’s easier to aim at the arrows on the board than at the pins.
- Hold your wrist strong and straight.
- The perfect time to remove your thumb is when you make a final step.
- When you release the ball, your arm should look like you’re suggesting a handshake.
- You can practice your finger motions by using the underhand football throwing technique. Get a football and throw it underarm, replicating the bowling motion, and give it a spin down the side of the bowling ball using your fingers. You can also use a tennis ball.
- Try this technique with a lighter ball first. It will show you how this method works, but will not put a lot of weight on your fingers and wrist.
How much do you need to spin the ball?
You can put more spin on the bowling ball if you want a curve to be larger, or put less spin on the ball if you want a smaller curve. You just need to remember that spinning the ball too much can result in losing control when the bowling ball can go into the gutter, and you can get an injury.
Some nuances of this technique
Many people think that to hook the ball, they need to force the sway from the wrist or swing their arms across the body. But these actions can often lead to too much curving, which will result in the bowling ball being in the gutter.
If your ball curves too much, it probably means that you are using your wrist.
And you don’t need to do that, try using your fingers as much as possible. A wrist brace can help you to get your wrist in a proper position and not use it too much.
What you need to consider when curving ball
There are some aspects, other than your technique, that can affect the way your bowling ball curves.
Lane conditions regarding oil
Lane oil is a very important part of the bowling game because it protects the lane surface from flaring or burning as a result of frictional force from throwing the bowling balls. Each lane has an oil pattern that can protect the wood and influence the speed and movement of your ball.
Bowling alleys even use different oil patterns for regular players and professional bowlers. There are a few oil patterns that can be used in a bowling game. Some professional bowlers start their ball outside of the lane, where there is less oil, and their bowling ball still hits a strike because of curving.
More oil means that the lane will have less grip with the bowling ball and it will have less curve. During a bowling game, the oil can dry up in some places, which can cause the ball to curve too much because it grasps more on the surface with oil.
Most bowling alleys are made to help the regular players to hit more strikes. That’s why the oil pattern has more oil in the middle of the lanes, so when you do a straight shot it will hit the pins. When hooking the ball, you can start on the outside of the lane, which has less oil.
The knowledge of which oil patterns your alley uses can be a good start to understanding the way you need to aim and throw bowling balls. But do not overthink this moment, your technique is still more important than the oil pattern.
Buy your own ball
Buying your own ball can help you to achieve more or less hooking, depending on what you need. When choosing weight, remember the rule of 10:1 – choose a bowling ball that is one-tenth of your body weight. A lot of the issues with hooking the balls can be caused by the wrong weight.
There are three main kinds of bowling balls: plastic, urethane, and reactive. The kind that you choose will impact the ball curving.
- Plastic ball – typical house balls which you can usually find at any bowling alley. They are the least likely to curve correctly because they are made of plastic and don’t contain any reactive material. It is possible to make such balls curve, but you need to spin them very hard, to the point where you can injure your hand.
- Urethane ball – the type that can curve better than the previous one, but you still need to make some effort to hook them.
- Reactive ball – has the most hook potential. These bowling balls are made of urethane, which gives them a hard coating, but they also have a sticky material called resin that increases their traction on lanes. These balls are the most popular among professional bowlers.
Urethane and reactive balls are more expensive, but they will help more with your hooking. Their materials don’t absorb the oil from the lanes and have more friction than the plastic ones. Their urethane or resin coating also digs into the oil patterns, which improves the chance of getting a strike. These two aspects are the key to a successful curve.
Professional bowlers also often drill their balls on the side, which results in the ball losing some mass on that side. This disbalance can help in hooking the bowling ball. You can even add thumb holes for a fingertip grip. But if you’re not very good at hooking, balance holes can cause the bowling ball to curve too much.
Is it better to bowl straight or curved?
There is no right answer to this question: everything depends on your style of bowling. But it is easier to throw the ball straight when you’re a beginner, and then master the hooking when you’re more comfortable with your bowling style.
Advantages of bowling straight
It is the first bowling technique that is used by new players. It is very easy to learn, and you don’t need to practice a lot – it’s just swinging your hand forward and backward straight. You can come up to the foul line and just throw a ball straight.
It is also much easier to consistently throw a ball straight, even a little bit of practice can be enough.
Disadvantages of bowling straight
There is a very small chance to get a strike by throwing your ball straight. It is very hard to hit all the pins when you throw the ball straight. While throwing a ball straight, there is a bigger chance to get a strike if you throw the ball from the other lane, but it is not allowed in the bowling alley, and it’s almost impossible because of the gutters.
You will also have to throw the bowling ball straight with a ton of power so that it will hit as many pins as possible and not fall into the gutter.
Advantages of hooking the ball
Curving the ball will help you to get the right angle. It will also help you hit the pins with as much force as you can, all of which will result in a big chance of getting a strike.
Disadvantages of hooking the ball
It can be a hard process to learn this technique and master it. You have to be patient and train a lot, even outside the bowling alley.
If you hook the ball incorrectly, the bowling ball can fall into the gutters. There is also a chance of injuring your wrist.
How do I keep my bowling ball from curving?
If you don’t want to hook the ball, there are a few things you can do to stop the ball from the curving pattern.
Use a lighter bowling ball. The heavier balls are more likely to curve.
Understand the lane conditions and oil patterns. The house balls combined with the oil pattern can lead to your ball going as straight as it can.
Use a ball with less hook potential. This bowling ball will roll straighter than the others.
Switch the way you release the bowling ball. If you release your ball with a spin, it can result in curving. Try and release it straight, your fingers should push off on the ball from the bottom.
Switch your wrist motions. Wrist motions can also result in a curving pattern, so try to change it.
This was all the information you need to start your curving journey. You can learn how to hook the bowling ball, weigh all pros and cons of bowling straight or curvy, and decide for yourself how you want to play the game.