In bowling, there are three different ways to get the bowling ball down the bowling lane. You can spin it, throw it straight down the lane or you can “hook it.” Out of these 3 options, the hook shot is the most widely learned and used technique.
In comparison though, it is also the most difficult of the three. It is also the most widely used among professional bowlers because of the hook action and power involved.
Your ability to create a perfect hook will depend largely on the type of balling ball you use as well as your strength. Especially when you are looking for certain results. Results will vary greatly between a slight hook and a “rainbow hook” where the bowling ball is thrown close to the gutter and hooks back in to hit the center of the pins. Learning how to hook a bowling ball can greatly improve your pin count and increase your average.
Type Of Bowling Ball Matters
Just like any other sport, you are only as good as the tool you use. In this case, it would be the bowling ball. Having the perfect ball will determine whether your hook will be perfect. This usually requires the use of a particle or reactive resin bowling ball. The main difference between a reactive resin and particle bowling ball is the balls surface area. A reactive resin grips the lane because of its porous surface and particle balls do not.
After you’ve selected the perfect type of reactive resin ball, you’ll need to have it drilled to fit your fingers. Using the fingertip grip is ideal and will allow you to control the amount of hook that you want to apply to your ball.
Technique Is Key
If you are comfortable with your current backswing and approach, then there will be no reason for a change. All you will need to remember to do is maintain the timing of your approach to the foul line. As you make your approach, make sure that your shoulders are straight and slightly forward, keep your arm straight as you swing, then concentrate on your release.
For a revolution to occur, the bowler needs to implement three steps prior to the release of the ball:
- The thumb must first be released from the ball
- The fingers must create lift
- Upon lift, the bowler must rotate their wrist and hand Counter-clockwise (Left-handed persons must rotate clockwise)
- Many bowling coaches recommend to not exceed the four o’clock position because you can over rotate the ball and cause it not to generate a decent hook.
Make sure that your thumb is relaxed as you make the release. With your thumb exiting first, this will give your two bowling fingers the control needed to make the hook. Your bowling fingers will also promote your accuracy, lift, and rotation.
Next, you need to create the revolutions. This is done by flicking your two bowling fingers as you release. So as soon as you release your thumb, you flick your fingers while lifting.
As you are lifting and flicking your fingers, this is when you also rotate your hand and wrist to mimic a handshake. You then follow through so that your ball goes directly where you want it to go to make the hook.
To get a good feel for the hook technique, it is best to practice it with another round ball. You simply throw it with an underhand spin that’ll make the ball turn to the side as soon as it bounces off of the ground. Another way to practice at home is to spin a tin can in your hand (a tuna can works well for this).
Perfecting Your Release
There is a reason why so many professional bowlers are successful and that has to do with their release. Here is a video outlining the ball releases of a few of the PBA’s top stars:
Things To Consider
Besides needing practice, you’ll also need to continuously visualize the technique without a ball. You’ll see a lot of bowlers practicing their approach without their ball in the bowling alley. If you are new to the hook, it’s best to start out small and then advance from there. If you do decide to create a lot of hook, you need to be careful to maintain control because as the hook increases, so does the generated power. At the end of the day, it is better to be seen as consistent than good. When you finally do perfect how to hook a bowling ball, you will be unstoppable.
If you’re brand new to bowling, you might want to see our article on bowling tips for beginners.