Tip Archive 

Finger Dancing

  In today's world of the average bowler bringing 8 balls just to bowl league, I think a very important part of the game is not being learned and practiced. This is the fine art of releases and hand positions. With different releases you can make a hook monster go straight or a very tame ball hook the lane.  But that is the extreme of what a bowler with a good hand can do. In this article I am going to talk more about how you can fine tune your ball reaction to increase control just by using different finger positions. This can greatly increase your carry percentage and give you easier spares to shoot at.  You have to try each finger position yourself and pay close attention to your ball reaction.

First let's look at the position of your index finger. That little guy can make a pretty big difference in your ball reaction.  I suggest you start with your index finger spread in a comfortable position, about half as far as you can spread it wide away from your middle finger.  Keep your little finger flat on the ball and tight against your ring finger. I call this our "base"  finger position and the one I think we should always start of with. Throw a few shots and get a good idea of your ball reaction. Notice not only how much the ball hooks but the shape of the hook.
 This is our "base" finger position.
Now spread the index finger wider and throw it again.
In most cases that will give you a stronger back end reaction. Sometimes that alone is enough to get the 10 pin out or
make the ball "turn the corner" a little harder when you need it to. Just by moving this index finger in and out a half inch at the time you can fine tune your ball reaction a great deal.

Index spread wide. In this photo the little finger is curled.
Now try  pulling your index finger in closer to your middle finger but leave just a little space. This is less spread than our  "base" starting position. For most people it is best not to pull the finger all the way in tight against your middle finger, because the ball can feel a little unstable in your hand. So leave just a little space. This time when you throw the ball it will go longer down the lane with a less pronounced back end. You can use this when your line just starts to dry out
or you just need to get the ball further down the lane before it hooks.

Both fingers are in. You may want to leave just a little more 
space between your index and your middle than this picture shows. But if you can pull it in this tight and not have the ball feel unstable in your hand that's great.
Now let's look at the little finger. It can work in concert with the index finger to give you different ball reactions. With the index finger in the middle "base" position or a little wider and the little finger spread wide your ball will have a much weaker back end. If you watch the pro's on TV you will see them use this position a lot, if not most of the time. It causes the ball to have a back end reaction that diminishes as it gets closer to the head pin. In most cases you don't want the ball to just keep hooking and hooking. This can cause bad pin carry and cause the ball to be much harder to control.
Both fingers are spread. Most common position on the pro tour. Keep in mind though that those guys have lots of RPMs.
Next let's slide the index finger in and leave the little finger spread wide. This will give you more end over end roll and take a lot of hook off of the ball. This is good to use when the the lanes are hooking a bit much or you need to play a very direct down and in line. If you really need to get behind the ball then try also to roll the ball more with the little finger.
Yes I know your little finger is not in a hole so how can you roll the ball with it? Well what I mean is, guide the ball with the little finger. Make your little finger go toward your target and feel your little finger come up the back of the ball.  If you have never tried it, you will be amazed how much you can change the roll on a ball just by rolling it more with the little finger  or your index finger. You can also squeeze ever so slightly with your ring finger in the hole and lead and roll the ball more with that finger than the middle finger to yet again change your roll and ball reaction. The same goes for your middle finger. 

The little finger is wide and the index is in. This is a good way to do it if you need to throw the ball pretty straight. I shoot at my spares like this. Just by keeping my hand directly behind the ball (actually it feels like I am throwing a back up ball but I am not) and coming up the back of the ball with my little finger I can throw the ball almost dead straight. It helps if I make my little finger go  toward my target. 
For our next trick let's try curling the little finger under and spread our index finger wide. To curl your little finger just bend it at the first joint so the ball will be next to the finger nail. This can be a little painful the first few times you try it. But most people don't have a problem with it after a while. Now when you roll your next ball it will tend to go longer
down the lane but come back strongly on the back end.  Some people have a hard time with this one with pain in the hand or fingers. If that happens to you then don't keep doing it.

Little finger curled under and the index finger spread wide.

 Notice I have not said anything about changing your revs or changing your release in any way. Only changing your finger positions. These finger positions are for fine tuning your ball reaction to help it match up better with the lane and knock
down more pins. To be able to use these finger positions effectively, you must practice them and understand what they do for you. I will expand this in a later update so check back often.  I will include wrist positions and show step by step photos of how the best pros in the business throw their balls.
Any questions?  I can be contacted through email at rclifton@triad.rr.com