Bowling Hook (2)

Facts About Throwing The Bowling Hook

"What is a bowling hook, and is it something I need to learn to do?" As a beginning bowler you'll eventually be asking this question. You'll see more experienced bowlers throwing bowling's equivalent to baseball's curve ball. You'll also notice that these bowlers get more strikes, and consequently, higher scores. The answer to why this is the case, lies in the way the bowling ball meets the bowling pins. A bowling hook, when thrown accurately, simply is the better way to consistently get strikes.

This is not to say that throwing a straight ball, as all or almost all beginners do, is somehow an inferior way to deliver the ball, and should be done away with. Not at all. As you'll see though, the bowling hook has two advantages. First, as just stated, accurately throwing a hook leads to a larger percentage of strikes. Second, and nearly as important, when you throw a hook that is just a shade inaccurate, you'll end up with a pins still standing, but it's very unlikely you'll be faced with a 7 - 10 spare, or an 8 -10 spare, both "dreaded spares" that are next to impossible to pick up.

A straight ball, on the other hand, if hitting the number one pin head on, will often leave you with one of the "dreaded" spares. To get a strike with a straight ball, it needs to hit the number one pin just a tad away from the center. The same is true with the bowling hook. No matter which delivery you use, you still have to be accurate to get the desired result. To accomplish this, you do what is called "targeting", where you focus on delivering the ball just off center of the head pin, or on a board on the lane which runs through that spot.

If you were to go deep enough into the physics of the situation, and imagine the pins falling in slow motion, you'd note that they don't fall at random, but fall or don't fall, precisely in relation to the location of the ball at an instant of time, and the movement of the other pins at an instant in time. If you were to deliver a ball precisely the same way each time, hitting the same precise target spot, and at the same precise speed, you'd get the same result almost every time. This is what the top bowlers are trying to do, and of course find it impossible to do each and every time.


How do you throw the bowling hook? Without going into great detail, as you deliver the ball you release your thumb first, then with your fingers give the ball a slight twist (counter-clockwise if you're right handed). One source likens the release technique to that of throwing a football spiral with an underarm motion. The ball will rotate or spin slightly as it travels down the lane and begin to hook. You can't throw with too much velocity, or it won't work, The hooking movement relies on friction between the ball and the lane, and takes time to get started.

Bowlers who stick to the straight ball often rely on velocity to do the job, figuring that a ball delivered at high speed will create enough chaos, in other words, flying pins, at the other end of the lane, to result in a strike. Needless to say, in the days before the automatic pin setter came into use, human pin setters did not look kindly on this type of bowler.

If you want to improve you game significantly, you really want to learn how to throw the hook. With a higher percentage of strikes and a lower percentage of ugly spares your scores are bound to improve dramatically.

Don't totally abandon the straight ball though. It's still the best delivery for picking up spares, and you'll still get enough of those. But just image how your score sheet will look if each frame features either a strike or a spare. Work to constantly improve your bowling hook, and your bowling straight ball, and whether you're bowling competitively or for recreation, you'll find your game  that much more enjoyable.