How to Bowl Two-Handed

The two-handed bowling technique hasnʼt been around for long. However, since its first appearance a couple of decades ago, in the late 2000s, it has managed to grab headlines all over the place. 

While some question its legality, others praise it and consider it a style worth developing. The Australian bowler, Jason Belmonte, holds the distinct honor of being the first person to use this technique.

It’s true that many bowlers consider two-handed bowling cheating. However, the question arises—do their views hold on legal grounds? And the answer to that is a resounding no! 

This bowling technique has been recognized by the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) which has confirmed that using the two-handed technique is not a violation of the law.   

What is The Two-Handed Bowling Technique?

How the two-handed technique works is pretty self-explanatory. As you may have deduced, it requires the use of both hands to play the bowling ball. 

However, it is important to understand that both hands donʼt play similar roles as only the dominant hand is used to release the ball. Meanwhile, the non-dominant hand  supports the ball. 

In other words, what the thumb does in a one-handed bowling style, the non-dominant hand fulfills in a two-handed bowling technique.

Apart from the fact that the two-handed bowling style requires the use of both hands, it also differs from a one-handed technique in various other ways.

For instance, two-handed bowling can be pretty tough to execute. Two-handed bowlers would have to move quickly and be more flexible than one-handed bowlers in order to execute high-rev shots. 

Hence, the two-handed bowling approach is only appealing to expert bowlers who want to take their game up a notch. For most bowlers, the one-handed bowling technique is simply more convenient and practical.

Advantages and Disadvantages of The Two-Handed Bowling Approach

Like all other bowling styles, the two-handed bowling technique is also not without its fair share of flaws, even when executed correctly. 

Let me quickly go through some of its advantages and disadvantages and, thereby, dismiss the notion that two-handed bowlers have an unfair advantage over one-handed bowlers. First, letʼs look at the pros.

Advantages of Two-Handed Bowling

Offers more spin and power

Two-handed bowlers are able to get more spin and power from their bowling balls due to the high speed and revolution rate. However, as I stated earlier, the two-handed bowlers will have to move quickly and have a flexible body to make high-rev shots. This might be considered by some as a disadvantage of the method.

Allows one to play different angles

Only in a two-handed bowling shot does the rev rate match the speed of the ball. 

This means that a two-handed bowling approach facilitates the domination of the rev rate over the ball speed. And, with a high rev-rate and ball speed, a two-handed bowler is able to play different angles more easily.

Less stress on the body

If you use a one-handed bowling style, youʼll suffer tremendously because of the over rotation and stress it puts on your shoulders and wrists. However, with a two-handed approach, youʼll find that the weight of the ball is evenly distributed between both hands. 

As a result, it puts less strain and stress on your body and allows you to bowl for longer, safely. Using good bowling balls from a reputable manufacturer is also important.

Offers more control over the bowling ballʼs path

As previously stated, the non-dominant hand in a two-handed bowling approach offers lateral support to the ball, preventing the ball from dropping and, thereby, giving a two-handed bowler more control over the ballʼs path.

Disadvantages of Two-Handed Bowling

Tough spare shooting

A two-handed bowling approach results in a higher rev rate, making it extra tough to knock down spares.

Requires a bowler to be more fit and flexible

Two handed bowling offers more spin and power. However, to produce an increase in rev and to bowl at high speeds, the bowler will also need to be more flexible and athletic.

Doesnʼt offer free swing

A bowler using the one-handed approach will have the advantage of a free swing over two-handed bowlers. Since the two-handed bowling approach doesnʼt facilitate free swings, the accuracy of the ballʼs release is greatly compromised. 

This can cause a massive decrease in performance. Of course, there is a way to neutralize this flaw—have a body that is flexible enough to deal with high rev.

Torque on the body

To execute the two-handed bowling technique properly, players usually have to lean forward and rotate their bodies frequently. Over time, this exercise can put a lot of torque on the spine, most notably on the lumbar vertebrae. 

When the lumbar vertebrae undergo excessive strain, the lumbar spine muscles can become badly affected causing an overall decrease in performance. 

How to Bowl With Two Hands

Itʼs finally time to discuss the process of bowling a two-handed shot. Weʼll discuss, in great detail, the steps involved in releasing a two-handed throw correctly, right from the form to the eventual release of the ball.

Step 1: Pay attention to your initial stance/body position

When you take your starting position (form), ensure you keep your elbows straight and your knees slightly bent and have your hip touching your elbow. Your entire body must be in a slightly sloping position with the bowling ball near your waist area.

And, as you proceed towards your approach, make sure your upper body tilts forward (a 45-degree forward spine tilt) and gets as close to the ground as possible. A proper form decreases the chances of bowling balls being lofted skyward when you eventually release them into the bowling alley. 

Step 2: Making your approach

The general rule of thumb implies that you should take a minimum of four steps before releasing the ball (two-handed style). Be careful not to take large strides during your approach as doing so can throw you off and make your release uncomfortable. 

During this time, your entire focus must be on the pace and technique of your approach.

Allow me to elucidate what a perfect two-handed style of approach looks like.

You take a long, deep breath in through your nose, and use your belly to breathe out through your mouth. Then, you take two timed steps to set the pace of your approach. 

If youʼre a right-handed bowler, you approach towards the left side of the lane to aim. If you are left-handed, you would move towards the right.

After that, you take skip steps, which means you skip short distances before finally sliding forward on your last step. The skip step is pivotal as it helps you generate power on the ball. 

Your last step is the farthest step you take, and you use this step to generate as much spin and power as you can using the best bowling ball you can get your hands on.

Step 3: Using the right grip

The success of a two-handed throw largely depends on your grip before you release the ball. 

To familiarize yourself with the grip, cradle the ball with both hands first. And, as you do that, you can opt to either make use of your thumb or dismiss it completely.

Next, you need to focus on the placement of your non-throwing hand. Your non-dominant hand plays a supporting role during two-handed ball releases as it secures and supports the ball and affects how the bowling balls react upon delivery. 

So, make sure your non-throwing hand is placed in the directly opposite angle to the throwing hand. To move the ball and hook it better, use your non-throwing hand to make a cradling gesture with the ball.

Step 4: Getting your arm swing right

Ask any expert bowler in the bowling community about the importance of getting a swing right and heʼd probably bore you to death with the details. Luckily for you, Iʼm here to encourage development; therefore, Iʼll keep things brief, simple, and straight to the point.

Why should you focus on your swing? Well, you must focus on your swing because it determines the speed and ferocity of the bowling balls as they travel down the bowling lane. 

If you were to use a one-handed approach, you would need to swing the ball forward in an oscillatory motion. However, things are quite different for a two-handed approach.

For you to execute a proper two-handed swing and knock down all the tenpins at the opposite end (preferably in one throw), you must first keep the ball close to your chest. The ball must be angled upward and forward, with the non-throwing hand ensuring the stability of the bowling ball. 

And, as you swing the ball back (back swing) with your throwing arm and shoulder blades backward, youʼre supposed to bring your non-throwing shoulder forward and open your elbow up.  

Step 5: Releasing the ball correctly

Weʼve finally reached the last step. In other words—the time has come for you to release the bowling ball before the foul line.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind before a two-handed release. First, you should always try to release the ball from the area beside your ankle to generate leverage and, therefore, more power. 

Next, you shouldnʼt rely on your non-throwing hand to produce a more powerful spin toss right before the ball’s release. If you do that, youʼll lose control of your ball and become more susceptible to making erratic shots.

If your two-handed throwing form, approach, grip, and swing are the way Iʼve described above, you wonʼt have any trouble generating spin on the ball.

Previously, I also briefly talked about the instrumental role your non-dominant hand plays in determining the reaction of the bowling balls upon release. But truthfully, there isnʼt a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to executing the right release. 

To get your bowling ball to react predictably, you need to have patience and test out several different placements and releases beforehand.

You can also increase your chances of getting the right release by collapsing your wrist in your throwing arm at the time of release. Doing so allows you to hook the ball better and ensures that the ball moves in a predictable fashion, exactly the way you want it to.

Bowling Tips To Help You Gain Skills in The Two-Handed Shot Quickly

Now that youʼre aware of how to throw two-handed, let me expedite your learning process and help you bowl more accurately in the short term. The following tips will ensure that you do not look out of your depth amongst other bowlers when trying two-handed throws.

Practice makes perfect

Thereʼs really no substitute for hard work and practice. If you want to be good really fast, simply play more and get your practice time in. 

New two-handed bowlers should primarily focus on posture, form, throws, and creating powerful tosses. Be diligent with your practice sessions, and you will soon be able to rub shoulders with the experts. 

Keep your elbow straight during delivery

During practice sessions, focus on keeping your elbows straight during deliveries. 

Why is it important to do this? Well, doing so decreases the chances of you throwing erratic shots. 

When you keep your elbows straight during release, the ball moves predictably and doesnʼt stray away from the desired path. You will be able to predict the ball’s trajectory accurately. 

Focus on lifting your back leg

This tip can also help improve the overall accuracy of your shots. 

When you lift your back leg before throws, your posture remains stable thereby facilitating a balanced release. And, a stable throw automatically decreases the chance of an erratic shot.  

Keep your throwing hand’s palm beneath the ball

Keep your throwing hand’s palm beneath the ball at all times if you wish to control the ball better throughout the delivery process, right from the approach to the eventual release towards the tenpins.

Conclusion

It would be unfair to dismiss the credentials of two-handed bowlers who use two-handed bowling to their advantage. After all, they have to work hard to gain skill and the same rules that apply to one-handers apply to two-handers as well. 

Plus, itʼs not as if people are barred from trying the two-handed bowling approach. Last time I checked, everyone was welcome to use this approach as often as they please. So, there should be no confusion as to whether two-handed bowling is cheating.

The two-handed bowling technique, compared to the one-handed bowling style, is much more difficult to master. 

As a result, it wonʼt ever be as mainstream as the one-handed technique in a bowling game. However, those who eventually do master the skill will be able to generate more power and an aggressive ball spin, and they will have greater control over the ballʼs path. 

In essence, going the extra mile by learning two-handed bowling ball delivery can prove to be extremely advantageous to a player.