How to Choose the Fit of Your Bowling Ball, Shoes and Bag

By: Bill Weaver


The first thing I do when a bowler approaches me for advice is to examine the ball he is using-to determine if it is properly fitted to his hand. Proper fit is most important, for a badly fitted ball handicaps any bowler.

If your bowling ball fits properly, your hand does not feel cramped. If the ball doesn't fit, your hand is not loose and comfortable, and the results at the pin-end of the alley will not be to your liking.

To determine the proper fit for your hand, insert your thumb almost its complete length into the thumb hole of your ball. The thumb hole should be comfortably loose. The hole should be sufficiently large to allow for a slight expansion of your thumb-for the thumb is likely to puff up during a bowling session. The finger holes may be snug.

After you insert your thumb into the ball, lay your hand flat on the surface of the ball, with the fingers extended over the finger holes. The second joint from the end of your finger (or fingers), should extend at least one quarter of an inch beyond the near rim of the finger hole. If your hand is bulky and not too flexible, the second joint should extend to the middle of the finger hole. This extra span allows you to manipulate the ball better.

After you have selected a ball according to the method described, make a further test to complete your diagnosis. Place your thumb and fingers into the proper holes, pick up the ball, and then insert a pencil into the space between your hand and the ball. If the pencil fits snugly without strain, you are fitted correctly.

When the fit is right, you can carry your ball comfortably up to the foul line. Your hand has a natural feel to it, there is no straining of the thumb or fingers, and you do not squeeze to hold the ball.

You may use either a two or three finger grip. If you have reasonable success with a two-fingered grip, stick to it, and vice versa. The proper fit is the important thing.

Bowling shoes are, of course, a prime necessity. One cannot expect, or even hope, to develop correct footwork and timing without them. While most bowlers are aware of the fact, many persons unfamiliar with the sport do not know that bowling shoes are made differently for each foot. The reason for this is that the sliding shoe is equipped with a sole that permits a slide, while the other shoe, which acts as a brake for the slide, has a rubber sole to accentuate the braking action.

A right-handed bowler slides on the left foot while the right foot acts as a brake. In all of our discussions we are referring to right- handed bowlers. Left-handed bowlers wishing to apply the lessons to themselves need only transpose the word "right" to "left" and vice versa.

A bag in which to carry your ball and shoes is necessary.

With a ball properly fitted to your hand, and a pair of comfortable shoes, you are ready to begin your campaign for a spot in the top bracket of bowlers. If you are able to walk naturally and possess natural co-ordination, there is no limit to the bowling" heights you may attain. Many star bowlers are small men, positive proof that muscle is not the determining factor.

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