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Bowling Tips For Beginners: How To Hook A Bowling Ball

Updated on November 27, 2011

Bowling has long been considered a sport for the masses. That's probably because almost anyone can play and it doesn't cost a lot to get started. It's also very easy to learn, but that doesn't mean it's easy to master. Learning how to hook a bowling ball is a key element to improving your average, and all it takes is a little practice, a lot of patience, and the right technique.

Once you've learned the basics (grip, approach, and a clean release), you should be able to consistently put up respectable scores and probably even hold your own in a league. If you have a good eye, and throw a straight ball, you'll probably be able to bring your average into the 120's without too much trouble; but to really excel, you're going to want to learn to throw a hook.

A Quick Primer On Bowling Equipment

Before you can think about how to hook a bowling ball, you need to take a look at the ball itself. If it can't find friction on the lane, it won't matter how you throw it, it's going to go in a straight line. If you're throwing a polyester (plastic) ball, you probably won't be able to get much hook at all, unless the lane is very dry. A plastic bowling ball will tend to slide along on top of the oiled lane, due to its hard smooth surface. Plastic balls are not bad, they're just not good for hooking. Pros keep them in their bag for those occasions where a straight ball is the best choice, like picking up spares (the pins left standing after your first roll).

If all you have is plastic and you really want to take your bowling game to the next level, then it's time to look at new bowling balls. To throw a good hook, you're going to need a urethane, reactive resin, or particle type ball. These can be had for as little as $50, and range well into the hundreds. Each type has its own specific properties, but they're all designed to hook as much or as little as you want them to.

Proper Fit Is Crucial

Another advantage to buying your own bowling ball is that it will be sized and drilled to fit your hand, unlike those "one size fits all" house bowling balls.

You also need to pay attention to weight. It's true that a heavier ball will create more pin action, but don't let your ego get the better of you. You should choose the heaviest ball you can throw comfortably. That big 16 pounder won't do you a bit of good if you can't control it. You might even hurt yourself.

Great Pin Action
Great Pin Action | Source

How To Hook a Bowling Ball

Now that you have your brand new custom fitted and drilled bowling ball, you're ready for action. Assuming you're already comfortable with your approach and release, that will mostly stay the same. The biggest difference is going to be your starting position.

There's no way to know for sure where to begin, so if you're right handed, move yourself a step or two to the left; and if you're a lefty, move to the right. Grip the ball as usual, with your hand directly under the ball. Use the arrows on the lane to align your shot, and off you go.

Your backswing will be the same as usual, but as you swing forward, you're going to rotate your hand a quarter turn just before the release. Keep your shoulders straight, follow through on your release, and end with your arm straight out in front of you. At this point, your thumb should be pointing at the ceiling, as if you're shaking hands with an invisible friend.

The ball should travel in a straight line, roughly 2/3 of the way down the lane, at which point it will begin to hook. If you don't hit the pocket, you know that you need to move over a little more and try again. Remember to make minor adjustments. Just move over one or two boards at a time until you home in on your mark. It should be easier to judge, now that you've seen how far the bowling ball is going to hook and where it will end up.

Use Good Form TO Hook A Bowling Ball

How To Hook A Bowling Ball
How To Hook A Bowling Ball

Watch Your Form

Here's where a lot of people go wrong:

  • Don't drop your shoulder, or you might throw right into the gutter
  • Keep your arm out straight, or you might throw right into the gutter
  • Don't over rotate your wrist, or you might throw across your body, and right into the gutter
  • Don't under rotate, or the ball won't hook enough, if at all

Nobody said it was going to be easy, right? With a little patience, and a lot of practice, you'll be hooking your bowling ball and throwing more strikes like a pro in no time. As you get it down to a science, you'll watch that 120 average climb into the 150's and beyond. Armed with the right ball and your new skill, you'll be the scourge of league night at the local bowling alley, and well on your way to that elusive 300 game. Just remember to be a gracious winner and, above all, have fun!

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