Learning New Releases: Part 3



            This is the 3rd part in a multipart series called “Learning New Releases”. If you missed part one then click here. "Learning New Releases: Part 1".

            The first release we learned was just a basic 45 degree release that every bowler should learn. It is important to remember the method we used to learn the release. You will use the same learning technique to learn every new release. If you try to skip some of the steps I went through, then you may never get it right. That’s the biggest reason I hope you saved parts one and two.

            The release angle and the degree of axis rotation it creates is one of the biggest factors in how much a ball hooks. You can change your release angle anywhere from zero degrees to 90 degrees. Each release angle will produce a different ball reaction.

In photo graphic you can see finger positions labeled
 “0 Degree Position”,
 45 Degree Position”
90 Degree Position”.

Each finger position produces that amount of axis rotation. Note that in each case the finger holes are directly under the thumb hole at the point of release. This will keep the axis tilt down to a minimum for the most readable and reliable ball reaction.





        In many cases I like to compare axis rotation to the front tires on your car. If your goal is to drive your car straight ahead, then keep your wheels straight. Similarly, if you release your ball in the 0 degree finger position, your ball will go straight.

If you only need to turn a little, then just turn your front wheels a little. If you only need a little hook, then release your ball between the “0 degree position” and the “45 degree position”. Walter Ray Williams Jr. has done quite well on the PBA tour using this type of release. Perhaps you have heard of him?

            If you need your ball to hook a little more, then head for that 45 degree position. This is the release position that will work best on the most conditions. The 45 degree position provides enough axis rotation to get the ball around the corner, but not so much that the ball gets an “under / over” reaction on the back end.

            There are occasions when you may need to go past the 45 degree position and go more toward the 90 degree position. This is needed when the ball is burning up too much (giving up too much axis rotation) to make it back to the head pin with enough force to carry. I suggest staying out of the 90 degree territory unless your ball is burning up too much. Using this as a normal release can be tricky because of the “under / over” reaction you can get. Some balls will hook a lot and others will not. Your ball speed, rev rate and carry down are strong factors on how the ball will react with this release. You may get a feel for this if you take a look at your car again. Imagine that you were driving across a frozen pond and you suddenly turned your front wheels to a 90 degree position. Your front tires would have no choice but to plow straight ahead until the car scrubbed off enough speed that it could turn. Then it would try to turn 90 degrees all at once. You can see that if you repeated this over and over the car would skid different amounts until it scrubbed off enough speed to make the turn.
        The ice on the pond is the same as the oil on the lane. With a 90 degree axis rotation, the ball will be spinning / sliding on the oil at a 90 degree angle until it reaches the end of the oil pattern. Then, the friction with the lane will scrub off enough speed to eventually allow the ball to start hooking. The problem is the ball will not always skid the same distance before it hooks…hence the “under / over” reaction.

            The 90 degree axis rotation can work just fine on lanes that have been bowled on a lot. The previous games bowled depleted the oil in the mid-lane, so now the ball can start to grip the lane a little there. This will cause the ball to start burning up (loose axis rotation) much sooner, so when it reaches the end of the oil pattern, it no longer has 90 degrees of axis rotation. From that point, it acts like a 45 degree release because that is all the axis rotation it has left. This loosing of axis rotation is the same as letting go of the steering wheel on your car in the middle of a turn. The front wheels will turn back straight (loose axis rotation) on their own. This happens quickly in a car because it has caster built into the steering. This happens slowly in a bowling ball.

            I will caution you that releases approaching 90 degrees are much harder to perform well. You have to start the turn a little earlier and still clear the thumb beside your sliding ankle. If your thumb stays in the ball too long, you will pull the ball off line and miss your targets.  

            Practice your different degrees of axis rotation and see how good you can get at changing it in small increments. A bowler that has a great feel for changing axis rotation can change it in about 5 degree increments. If you can learn to do that, then you will have another great tool in your box when the lanes start changing.

            Next month we will learn how the pros rev it up! I can’t promise that you will be able to do the same, but you will at least know how it’s done.

 My email address is rclifton@triad.rr.com
             Stop in the bowl4fun.com chat room and say hi. Ron Clifton is in there most nights from 11PM to Midnight Eastern Time