Once you have mastered the technique of releasing a straight ball, learning how to spin/hook a bowling ball next is the norm.
The satisfaction from getting your hook shot into the pocket and having the ball knock down all the pins is unparalleled. Once you experience this electrifying fulfillment, you will never want to muck around with straight shots.
Hook Shot vs. Straight Shot
A recreational bowler relies on a straight shot to knock down pins because it’s easy to execute. Hook shots, on the other hand, are much more difficult to pull off.
Straight shots can be beneficial for getting spare pins and decent bowling averages—but they can only take you so far. If you want to rub shoulders with the best in the sport, you will need to learn how to spin a bowling ball.
Why is a hook/spin ball better than a straight shot?
Well, a hook shot gives you a better angle at the pocket. Shots that hit the pocket generally have the highest chances of knocking all the pins down.
Right-handed bowlers go for the 1-3 pocket while the lefties aim for the 1-2 pocket.
Additionally, hook shots have phenomenal power behind them and thus, have greater pin carry action too. Hook shots can substantially help you improve your bowling averages.
Now that you are aware of the benefits you can derive from a hooked/spun bowling ball, let’s discuss how you can execute them.
The Right Ball for Spins
Plastic balls, usually constructed of polyester, don’t possess great hooking potential. They are usually regarded as straight balls; you will need to exert plenty of power even to achieve a minimal hook reaction.
Attempting to hook with a plastic ball will result in complete exhaustion and unfavorable results.
Bowling balls constructed of reactive resin coverstock tend to generate the most reactive hooking patterns. Owing to its porous surface, they have greater friction, hooking potential, and pin-carry action, making them the best bowling balls for hooking experts.
Since reactive resin balls are extremely reactive, they can be difficult to control too; that’s why they are perfect only for seasoned players. Start using them only after you have some experience hooking a ball.
The best bowling ball for those who are new to spinning/hooking are those made of urethane. Urethane bowling balls are easier to control and have decent hook potential.
Once you have chosen your ball, have finger holes drilled onto them.
The holes must be large enough to accommodate the smooth insertion and withdrawal of the fingers. An improper fit can prevent you from manipulating the ball properly, preventing you from spinning/hooking the ball correctly.
After you have your equipment ready, you can start concentrating on perfecting your form, technique, and release.
How to Spin a Bowling Ball in 3 Steps
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get a ball to hook better by swinging your arm across your body nor will you reap the results you seek through an excessive flick of the wrist. Such incorrect techniques can be counterproductive and lead to erratic shots.
To hook a ball, throw it as you would do a straight shot. The only difference between the shots lies in how you release the ball and what you do with your fingers, not your wrist.
1. Withdraw your thumb first
The approach technique of releasing a straight shot and a hook shot is the same. However, at the releasing period of a hooked shot, focus on withdrawing your thumb out before the other supporting fingers. Your index and middle fingers will be responsible for manipulating the hook.
Failure to get your thumb out in time can result in disastrous unpredictable shots. Timing your thumb’s exit from the holes to perfection is paramount for a greater lift, control, rotation, and improved accuracy.
2. Flick your fingers
As I mentioned earlier, your index and middle fingers are responsible for generating hook/spin in the ball.
Upon the withdrawal of the thumb, the index and middle fingers bear the entire weight of the bowling ball up until the release.
Now as you remove your fingers and let go of the ball, simultaneously flick your fingers in a counter-clockwise motion if you’re a right-hander and clockwise if you’re a left-hander.
It is important not to force this action—it should be done swiftly and naturally with the fingers ending up on the side of the ball and the palm facing to the left (for a right-handed bowler).
3. Follow through
The perfect follow-through action must be performed for optimum accuracy.
So, have your arms and hands directed upwards and towards the pin deck after release. The motion should be similar to you giving a handshake.
Of course, it is everybody’s dream to get strikes with the most vigorous hook shots. Though impressive to look at, those shots are extremely challenging to control.
Focus on generating the right amount of hook instead. An excessive and vicious spinning of the ball is not the right way to go about things.
Forget about looking extravagant on the lane—consistency is what you should aim for.
Follow the steps discussed above and practice. Only countless hours spent practicing how to hook and numerous adjustments can help you understand how much spin/hook you need under specific circumstances.
Lane conditions can also affect your hooking potential. The oilier the lane, the more difficult it is to hook.
Be careful not to rush through your practice. Practicing your release in full throttle too soon will have your hand reverting to its previous form because of muscle memory.