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Bowling Tips For Beginners Part II

Updated on March 27, 2017

WTF Is a Brooklyn?

Brooklyn Strike ("a brooklyn"): If you're a righty, you generally aim towards the 1-3 pocket (between the headpin and the first pin to the right, pins 1 and 3) with your strike ball. This is especially important for the hook bowler. When the ball crosses over to the pocket opposite from the one aimed at (in this case, the 1-2 pocket, which would be normal for a lefty) and strikes, it is fairly universally called a brooklyn. As in "not another brooklyn!" or "yea, I got a strike, but it was a brooklyn."

One way you will hear this term used frequently is to predict a brooklyn strike. As the ball starts to cross over the headpin, you will often here someone yell "BROOKLYN!" as a way of cutely calling the shot. Similar to "STRIKE!" on the regular side. Of course, this is followed by an "awww, almost" if it misses.

Summary of Part I

In the first article, we went over aiming, how to start the path to having a hook, how to buy a ball, and some things on bowling etiquette. To sum it up:

  • Look at the Arrows or Dots to line up your shot, do not look at the pins.
  • Please, always be respectful when bowling, both of the game and of the other bowlers.
  • There are ways to hook the ball without a proper grip and the right ball, but, they are dangerous and generally ineffective. To throw a proper hook, you're going to have to buy a ball.
  • When buying a ball, if you intend on being a bowler with a hook and a high average at some point, you're going to want to have a finger tip grip drilling. If told that you should get a conventional grip, politely tell them you would rather have a finger tip grip.
  • Bowling is awesome.

That pretty much covers the basics of the last article. In this article we are going to go over the difference between the grip types, some explanation of why those differences matter, a little about your armswing and some common bowling terms so you know what all those fans are screaming during your perfect game! (12 strikes in a row, scoring 300. The highest score possible)


Measuring For a Proper Grip

The reason I'm not going to delve into this topic too much is that any decent pro-shop should be able to measure your hand adequately enough to start you off. As you proceed in developing your skills, you may want to fine-tune your grip or have someone else measure you out and see how their opinion compares to that of your original pro-shop worker. For now, outside of a fluke mistake or truly incompetent dude, you shouldn't worry too much about the measurements.

Generally, they will measure the size of your fingers (generally with some sort of device with holes mimicking the typical measurements for finger grips), the angle of your thumb-grip (often by having you grip their arm), and the span of your hand (they'll put your thumb in a thumb hole and lay your fingers across the ball). A quick note, 15 is the generally recommended weight for a bowling ball nowadays, if you can handle it. I would recommend following their advice on that topic unless it seems ridiculous (in which case go somewhere else!).

What Is This "Grip" Stuff, Anyway?

I'm glad you asked! There are two main types of drillings for bowling balls, which translate into two different types of grip. The drilling that most non-league bowlers are used to is called a "conventional" grip drilling. This is the grip you will see with almost any ball you find on the racks at your local alley. This grip creates a ball that will be usable by a large variety of hands and a ball that is easy for amateur bowlers to hold on to without feeling in danger of dropping it.

The conventional grip is composed of the usual three holes, but the two finger holes are drilled closer to the thumb than with a finger tip grip because the fingers go one knuckle farther into the bowling ball. With a conventional grip, your thumb should go in to the web, and your middle and ring fingers should go in to the second knuckle. With a finger tip grip, which is aptly named, your finger tips go in to the bowling ball up to the first knuckle.

The wider grip of the finger tip drilling allows bowlers who throw a hook to release the ball more smoothly, create more rotation on the ball (which is what makes a ball move on the lane), and to be able to control the direction and speed of the rotation to a higher degree. The conventional grip, on the other hand, is much easier for a beginner to hold. This is probably the main reason for someone to start with this grip. The finger tip grip requires some degree of attention to wrist position and tension, making it a little harder to develop a technique that feels comfortable right away. Beginners may feel like they can't hold on to a finger tip ball, or just feel extremely awkward using one.

As much as learning about bowling is a great thing for anyone, I do have to push trying to develop your bowling skills to a higher level with a finger tip grip, as I believe in competitive bowling and trying to better yourself and your skills in general. If you're going to do something regularly, do it right, right? One of the very first steps in becoming a good bowler is always to get a quality ball with this kind of grip.

My Armswing Was Generally Decent Here

Swing-Straight, Sweet Bowwwwling Arrrrmmmmm!!

So, one of the most basic things I can suggest for any bowler is that they keep their swing straight forward and straight back. What does this mean? It means that if you imagined a wall that was parallel to the lane lined up against your bowling arm, your arm would start touching it and end touching it. In other words, you don't want your ball going in front of your body or behind your body when you swing it. You want the ball to stay on the side of your body and have a pendulum motion, freely swinging back and forth on a single plane.

You can see in the video to the right that when my armswing is straight back and forth, on a single plane, the shots and the form look better. The second or third shot in the video has my arm going across my body on the follow through, and though it strikes, it's fairly obvious that my form is less balanced and smooth. There are good things about any swing, as well as things that could probably be changed. Even the professionals deviate from generally accepted mechanics on occasion, some more than others. To me, bowling is a game of near-misses. The idea is that you're never going to be perfect, but you want to get as consistent as possible so that when you are off, everything adjusts so that you still end up throwing a strike.

Bowling Terms!

Here are a few to whet your appetite:

  • Split: any combination of pins with a gap between them that doesn't include the headpin. If the headpin is present, we still usually call it a split but it technically isn't one.
  • Revs: short for "revolutions." Refers to the number of times a ball rotates in a certain amount of time. A main determinant of the aggressiveness of a hook.
  • Turkey: Three strikes in a row (XXX).
  • Double: Two strikes in a row (XX).
  • Four, Five, Six, Etc-Bagger: Anything after a turkey is the number plus -bagger. (XXXX) is a four-bagger. Interchangeable with "in a row."
  • Oil Pattern: Some people don't know this one. The reason the ball hooks, when you put spin on it, approximately two thirds of the way down the lane is because that is where the oil pattern has stopped and the lane is bare wood. Both for protection of the lane and to determine hook potential, the alley lays down oil on the first 40 or so feet of the lane.
  • "Dry": The lane seems to have less oil, and the ball is hooking more than expected or than is usual.
  • "Wet": The lane is very oily and the ball isn't hooking much or as much as usual.

Next Time...

The next article will focus on some basic footwork issues and how to start your approach. Should be exciting!


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