Proper Bowling Etiquette (Part 2)

Odds, Oddities, and Ends

Preparing to Bowl (1 lane): If the person bowling to your immediate right or left reaches the lane before you do, you MUST allow them to bowl before you bowl. If you attempt to bowl while they are bowling, you will likely get sneers, hear jeers, and be called a lowly amateur.
When you Gotta go…: During league play, whether it be to use the restroom, order cheese sticks from the restaurant, or pick up a beer from the bar, make sure that you do so right at the end of your turn. There is nothing worse than coming back twenty minutes late to have your teammates glaring at you.

Preparing to Bowl (2 lanes): If the person bowling two lanes to your left or right (leaving one open lane in between) is about to go, breathe easy, you can bowl without fear of recompense. Most every bowling league in the world uses this as a standard rule.
Sick Bump: On the rare occasion that you are sick while bowling, it’s best not to congratulate your opponents with fingers or fists that have seen strong amounts of germ action recently. Instead, offer them the ‘Sick bump’. Use your elbow to accept their high fives and/or fist bumps. This will ensure their health and allow them to appreciate your thoughtfulness.
One Ball on the Rack: For the league bowlers, make sure you only have one ball on the ball return at a time. For those of us who use a spare ball, this can be quite tricky. If you are forced to use your spare ball on your second shot (damn 10 pins…), pull your strike ball off the rack and set it aside until your next shot. Don’t be that guy who stands in front of the lane he just bowled, blocking the next bowler, while waiting for his spare ball to come back.

Preparing to Bowl (empty lanes): On the rare occasion that no one is bowling between you and the end of the alley (either to the right or left of you), upon releasing your ball, you are required to turn to your right (or left) and run down the approaches of the other lanes until you reach the side of the building. Reaching the side of the building before your ball hits the pins will result in a guaranteed strike (results may vary)

Changing Balls

For most bowlers who own multiple ‘strike’ balls, the temptation often comes to switch balls when your ‘preferred’ strike ball isn’t performing as expected. Many bowlers around the 200 level will make the decision to switch to a different ball when the original ball they are using isn’t ‘working correctly’. Sometimes this can make a difference, but the fact of the matter is, the original ball is probably working fine, but you’re just not lined up correctly on the lane (see Starting Position). However, there are several occasions in which changing balls is entirely appropriate and necessary.

Spare shots – If you’re a 150-180 average bowler and you want to improve your average by 10 pins or more, switching to your spare ball for every spare shot can help you out significantly. If you’ve ever thrown your strike ball at a 10 pin or 7 pin, just to see it hook away at the last second, then you know why you should get a spare ball.

With a spare ball, you can throw your normal shot without dramatically changing your starting position, increasing your speed, or having to keep your wrist straight. (Remember bowling is about repetition!).

Sport shot conditions – The PBA line of sport patterns, the USBC National pattern (which changes every year), and many other patterns out there are very difficult assess in 10 to 15 minutes of warm-ups. If you’re preferred ball just isn’t performing (sliding too far, breaking too soon, or is just generally unpredictable), switching to your secondary or tertiary strike balls may be worth a try. Also, remember that certain balls are designed and drilled for conditions that are oily/dry. If your preferred ball performs better on a reasonably dry house shot, you’ll want to use a ball for heavy oil on a sport shot, such as the Storm Timeless Bowling Ball (40% off right now), or the Hammer Gauntlet, which performs spectacularly well in heavy oil conditions.

Dry lanes – Though not common in most leagues, a lot of tournaments, especially ones where you bowl 5 or more games, will see the oil disappear and dry up. This can often leave you scrambling left to stay in the oil and put you in an uncomfortable angle to throw at. Having a Urethane ball in your arsenal can be quite helpful in a dry lane situation, but switching to any less hooking ball will be helpful. It may sound crazy, but don’t rule out throwing your spare ball for a strike as well.

==> For medium to heavy oil, be sure to also check out this ball. It’s one of the most highly rated right now, allowing you to have one beast of a hook, even in the harshest of lane conditions!

How to Bowl a Hook

How to Bowl a Hook

Whenever someone finds out that I’m a bowler, the question I’m most often asked is if I throw a hook. My general answer is a polite, ‘yes’, but in the back of my mind I always think ‘How else would I bowl?’ Every bowler I’ve seen have consistent high average success has thrown a hook. I’ve seen a fair number of ‘non-hook’ bowlers shoot high games, but for them a 200 game is usually a rare achievement, as opposed to a consistent score.

Throwing a hook is the most instrumental tool that you can learn to become a consistent bowler. Instead of hitting the headpin dead on, or slightly off centered, which causes massive deflections of power, throwing with a hook allows you to hit multiple pins with equal force, creating a reaction that should knock over all 10 pins. Think of it in terms of a game of pool. When you shoot the cue ball to the right of the ball for which you aim, the cue ball will deflect away from any balls behind the target ball. This is a similar reaction to hitting the head pin slightly to the right or left, the Ball will bounce away from the remaining pins and toward the gutter. Occasionally, the laws of physics will cause all of the pins to be knocked down, but to manage that consistently is very difficult.

Thus, the importance of throwing the hook. When done properly for right-handers, the ball will hit what is called the pocket, between the head pin and the 3 pin. The head pin will deflect into the 2 pin and a domino effect will knock over the 4 and 7 pins. Meanwhile, the 3 pin will deflect into the 6 and 10 pins. Since the ball hit at an angle going into the pocket, it will continue to ‘drive’ through the pins hitting the 5 pin, which will deflect into the 8 pin, and finally run out of steam as it hits the 9 pin and then the backstop. Sounds complicated, but actually, it’s quite easy.
As you stand on the approach, hold the ball in front of you at about chest height. Make sure that all three fingers are in the holes and that they are holding the ball from underneath. Much like shooting a free throw in basketball, use your opposing hand for balance. As you start your approach, allow your arm to swing the ball behind you. Try, as best you can, to keep your hips squared to the pins ahead of you, while still keeping your hand beneath the ball. It sounds very difficult at first, but with practice, this skill can be mastered. As you approach the foul line, bring your arm forward and start to turn your wrist upward. The best way to describe this action is to imagine yourself extending your arm to shake someone’s hand. Once your wrist starts to approach a 90-degree angle, the ball will release from your hand with added revolutions. Once the ball has cleared the oil, it should hook!

As always, the key to getting it to hook into the pocket will take time and practice, but if you do so, you’ll be able to see your scores take off and your average well on its way to the 200 level.

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