Please help with my awful approach/swing

Posted by: PowerBall

Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 08:09 PM

Today I was playing particularly badly. I tried to focus on my approach and swing but boo it looked bad. I can tell I started my backswing way too late (2nd or 3rd step not counting the first half) and for some reason my arm looks like it's going back to the left.
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 08:38 PM

I believe your push-a-way is too high. Its causing multiple issues. Your swing is too far away from your body which is causing you to fall off-balance. And, like you noted you have late timing (in large part) because you're starting the ball too high. You're definately muscling the ball which is correctable.

If it were me, start the ball down by the hip while focusing on keeping hand behind the ball (not under it) and try to drive the ball using your fingers and not your thumb out to your mark.

Looks like your throwing plastic so lets not worry about hook but focus more on balance and accuracy. Hook will come later with the proper ball.
Posted by: eclark53520

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 09:30 PM

+1 to the previous poster...

First thing i would work on is getting the push away lower and started with your right foot.

You should be dropping the ball into it's free swing when your right foot hits the approach.

I always work on one thing at a time while practicing. It helps keep one concentrated on improving that item. I believe you will benefit the most right out of the gate by working on your push-away.

Good luck!!! By taking video and looking for help, you have great potential!
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 09:51 PM

Originally Posted By: metguy
I believe your push-a-way is too high. Its causing multiple issues. Your swing is too far away from your body which is causing you to fall off-balance. And, like you noted you have late timing (in large part) because you're starting the ball too high. You're definately muscling the ball which is correctable.


Thanks so much.
Good catch, I wouldn't have noticed that I pushed it up so high.. I should just push it out in front of me. I am wondering, not counting the first half step, should I push it out as I am reaching for my first step or after the first step, or simultaneously?

When you say muscling the ball do you mean it's like I'm throwing it instead of releasing it?

Originally Posted By: metguy

If it were me, start the ball down by the hip while focusing on keeping hand behind the ball (not under it) and try to drive the ball using your fingers and not your thumb out to your mark.

Looks like your throwing plastic so lets not worry about hook but focus more on balance and accuracy. Hook will come later with the proper ball.


What do you mean by behind the ball instead of under it?

Yeah I have a new ball coming in a week or so but gotta learn form first..

Thanks again!
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 10:12 PM

Originally Posted By: eclark53520
+1 to the previous poster...

First thing i would work on is getting the push away lower and started with your right foot.

You should be dropping the ball into it's free swing when your right foot hits the approach.

I always work on one thing at a time while practicing. It helps keep one concentrated on improving that item. I believe you will benefit the most right out of the gate by working on your push-away.

Good luck!!! By taking video and looking for help, you have great potential!


Thanks, video has really helped.. i video myself now from now on..
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/17/11 10:25 PM

Originally Posted By: TidalKnight

[ I am wondering, not counting the first half step, should I push it out as I am reaching for my first step or after the first step, or simultaneously? ]

The ball should be at its maximum extension simultaneously when your right step is executed.

Originally Posted By: TidalKnight

[When you say muscling the ball do you mean it's like I'm throwing it instead of releasing it?]

Yes, and you can tell this because however high you get the ball in the push-a-way is how high it should go in the backswing. You are trying to slow it down almost immediately which is contributing to the ball getting to the line so far behind your feet. Then, at the point of release you are throwing your shoulder forwards to try and get some of that speed back but losing accuracy and (to a degree) balance.


Originally Posted By: TidalKnight

[What do you mean by behind the ball instead of under it?]

When the ball comes forward from your backswing and reaches the release point, your hand can be in any of three positions (not counting to the side of the ball). Either on top of the ball, behind the ball, or under the ball. Keeping the hand behind the ball with a firm wrist is a strong position capable of getting more then enough ball reaction. Good solid place to begin.


Originally Posted By: TidalKnight

[Yeah I have a new ball coming in a week or so but gotta learn form first..]

Absolutely. No bowler with a strong reacting ball is gonna score without being able to throw accurately and within reason balanced. Learning accuracy and form using a plastic ball is ideal, shows you exactly where the need to focus is at. This step of the learning progression is sadly overlooked by new bowlers. In the long run it will serve invaluable.
Posted by: Rat Man

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 01:02 AM

You are bringing the ball around behind your back. It needs to have a very straight, pendulum swing. Relax your arm and let it swing naturally and you'll see your accuracy improve immediately.
Posted by: Calvin Pistorio

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 08:42 AM

It looks to me like you are using house balls that aren't fit for you at all. That alone is going to cause a lot of issues, and many of them will carry over to when you get your own ball, but it will be easier to correct when you get your own ball. You have to grip the house ball to be able to hold on to it and that leads to muscling the shot from the start.
Posted by: champ

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 12:53 PM

On top of what has already been mentioned, it looks like you are throwing an 8 pound ball. I could be wrong, but you certainly are moving it around like a toy. You need a ball that is heavy enough to control the swing. For most men that is 15 or 16 pounds.
Posted by: JW123

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 03:18 PM

Way too much upper body movement during your approach, which is likely due to a muscled swing. The shoulders should never rotate to the extent that yours are.

You're always starting up pretty square to the foul line, which is fine. But by the time you get to the top of your backswing, you've turned your upper body to the point that your shoulders are out of line (your left shoulder is well in front of your right shoulder so your upper body is facing right), and you're pulling the ball behind your body. Then in your downswing, sometimes you're correcting it and squaring back up (messing up your swing direction and resulting in tugging the ball) and sometimes you're keeping your shoulders in that position and missing to the right of your target. I can't clearly see the arrows on the lane, but I would estimate that your shots are crossing the arrows in a 15-board window (you're everywhere between the first and middle arrows at 15 feet), which is about 12 boards too many. If you're playing the 10 board (second arrow) you should always be crossing the area between 8 and 12, and most of your shots should be between 9 and 11. That sounds real bad, but it's not too hard to fix with some work.

Try out this drill to work on your swing direction. When you take your position on the approach, line your right shoulder directly with the second arrow and square your shoulders to the foul line like you're doing. Keep your shoulders square and swing straight, with the objective being to roll the ball over the second arrow and all the way to the 6 pin. For this drill, do NOT think things like strikes, or even pockets. This is a SWING DIRECTION and HIT YOUR MARK drill only.

Once you get that part of the game down, then you can work on things like hook and tweaking your launch angle.

You do look like you have the makings of a nice release, and once you get the new ball and relax your swing, you're likely to be really good.
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By: champ
On top of what has already been mentioned, it looks like you are throwing an 8 pound ball. I could be wrong, but you certainly are moving it around like a toy. You need a ball that is heavy enough to control the swing. For most men that is 15 or 16 pounds.


Actually it's a 14lb houseball but thanks for the ego boost lol.
Posted by: Calvin Pistorio

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 05:07 PM

Originally Posted By: JW123
Way too much upper body movement during your approach, which is likely due to a muscled swing. The shoulders should never rotate to the extent that yours are.

You're always starting up pretty square to the foul line, which is fine. But by the time you get to the top of your backswing, you've turned your upper body to the point that your shoulders are out of line (your left shoulder is well in front of your right shoulder so your upper body is facing right), and you're pulling the ball behind your body.



Have you ever watched the pros? Most of them open the shoulders up like that, but the biggest difference is they have some body tilt and lean as well as have the non-ball hand/shoulder pointed down lane. It's also the modern bowling style and when executed correctly gives better leverage at the line and a straight swing plain. Like anything else it takes work. So to say you should never rotate the shoulders like that is completely off base.

I do agree there are plenty of problems with the swing plane though, again a lot of other things that until he gets a ball drilled up that is correctly fitted is hard to fix.
Posted by: eclark53520

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 05:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Calvin Pistorio
Originally Posted By: JW123
Way too much upper body movement during your approach, which is likely due to a muscled swing. The shoulders should never rotate to the extent that yours are.

You're always starting up pretty square to the foul line, which is fine. But by the time you get to the top of your backswing, you've turned your upper body to the point that your shoulders are out of line (your left shoulder is well in front of your right shoulder so your upper body is facing right), and you're pulling the ball behind your body.



Have you ever watched the pros? Most of them open the shoulders up like that, but the biggest difference is they have some body tilt and lean as well as have the non-ball hand/shoulder pointed down lane. It's also the modern bowling style and when executed correctly gives better leverage at the line and a straight swing plain. Like anything else it takes work. So to say you should never rotate the shoulders like that is completely off base.

I do agree there are plenty of problems with the swing plane though, again a lot of other things that until he gets a ball drilled up that is correctly fitted is hard to fix.


I disagree that telling him to keep the shoulders square is off base. Teaching a solid, no frills swing to new bowlers is(IMO) a good idea. Once they have a basic swing, they can then start exploring more of the 'modern' ideas of the swing.

Sort of a crawl before you walk approach. I don't like comparing 'pro' swings when attempting to guide new bowlers. Pro's are there after many years of practice. Unfortunately we never get to see the full progression, only the end point.

Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 05:23 PM

Originally Posted By: JW123
Way too much upper body movement during your approach, which is likely due to a muscled swing. The shoulders should never rotate to the extent that yours are.

You're always starting up pretty square to the foul line, which is fine. But by the time you get to the top of your backswing, you've turned your upper body to the point that your shoulders are out of line (your left shoulder is well in front of your right shoulder so your upper body is facing right), and you're pulling the ball behind your body. Then in your downswing, sometimes you're correcting it and squaring back up (messing up your swing direction and resulting in tugging the ball) and sometimes you're keeping your shoulders in that position and missing to the right of your target. I can't clearly see the arrows on the lane, but I would estimate that your shots are crossing the arrows in a 15-board window (you're everywhere between the first and middle arrows at 15 feet), which is about 12 boards too many. If you're playing the 10 board (second arrow) you should always be crossing the area between 8 and 12, and most of your shots should be between 9 and 11. That sounds real bad, but it's not too hard to fix with some work.

Try out this drill to work on your swing direction. When you take your position on the approach, line your right shoulder directly with the second arrow and square your shoulders to the foul line like you're doing. Keep your shoulders square and swing straight, with the objective being to roll the ball over the second arrow and all the way to the 6 pin. For this drill, do NOT think things like strikes, or even pockets. This is a SWING DIRECTION and HIT YOUR MARK drill only.

Once you get that part of the game down, then you can work on things like hook and tweaking your launch angle.

You do look like you have the makings of a nice release, and once you get the new ball and relax your swing, you're likely to be really good.


Thanks, that is a really nice confidence booster!
Thanks for the tips too. I wish it was as easy as Wii bowling (I seem to have hook down in that game, I think it might translate well)..
can you explain a bit more what you were talking about with the boards? I am not familiar with boards yet in relation to pins or curve..
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 05:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Calvin Pistorio



Have you ever watched the pros? Most of them open the shoulders up like that.

You're talking the crankers, i don't see WRW doing this nor do i suspect TidalKnight should at this point.



Originally Posted By: Calvin Pistorio

I do agree there are plenty of problems with the swing plane though, again a lot of other things that until he gets a ball drilled up that is correctly fitted is hard to fix.

While the importance of a correctly fit ball goes without saying, having a fair swing plane can be achieved muscling the ball (even with house equipment).
Posted by: Calvin Pistorio

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 06:21 PM

If you actually watch WRW, you will see his right shoulder is a bit further back in the swing, Norm Duke as well. I don't know of too many that consider Chris Barnes or Pete Weber as crankers and they both do it.

My point was also that JW123 said the shoulders should never be like that, and I pointed out it was wrong to say never. Many coaches will teach the modern from the start. Why ingrain muscle memory of one sort then change it. The body tilt/lean is needed in both in order to clear the hip correctly, which is often the biggest issue for a swing wrapping too far around the back.

Sure this can be fixed with a house ball, but if the muscle has to be engaged from the beginning of the swing there is a good chance the old muscle memory will take over and the arm would try to bring the ball behind the back. There is a reason for the saying no coach can out coach bad ball fit.
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/18/11 11:00 PM

Man, I sucked tonight. Probably worse I've done in years. It's like everytime I tried to correct a mistake I got worse. The coach pointed out things and I tried to correct and bam worse and worse. I don't know if it's the house balls or what but the ball just kept going straight but to the right constantly. I figured out how to square up my shoulders though.. but he kept telling me to aim for the arrows.. just kept me going right. What arrows should I be focusing on? Do I throw the ball AT the arrow?
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 02:25 AM

Just relax, take a deap breath. The arrows are just a visual aid to reference on. If you are throwing at the 2nd arrow from the right gutter (most people do) and your ball keeps going right of the headpin then move your feet to the right a couple boards and aim at the 2nd arrow again.

Remember, keeping your target the same (2nd arrow) and move your feet in the direction your ball is hitting the pins. If you're hitting way to the right then move your feet way to the right but keep what you are aiming at the same. You'll pick it up pretty quickly but staying patient and relaxed will speed up the understanding of this.

Its easier to hit a point 15ft down lane then 60ft, so using the arrows helps. Keep your focus (eyes) on the arrow until your ball has rolled over it, don't look up or you will not know if you are hitting your mark (arrow) or not.
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 04:18 AM

Despite bowling for years, basically EVERY part of bowling is new to me. The approach (4 step, 5 step etc), swing (pendulam vs just throwing it), sliding my right foot behind my left, wrist position, hook, arrows, blablabla basically everything is new to me. So I am constantly trying to think about every little thing each time I bowl. If I just bowl without thought I do much better.. but I want to get better and have proper form and learn how to properly bowl... does it all become natural so I don't have to think about it anymore?
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 10:43 AM

Originally Posted By: TidalKnight
The approach (4 step, 5 step etc), swing (pendulam vs just throwing it), sliding my right foot behind my left, wrist position, hook, arrows, blablabla basically everything is new to me.


LOL, it can be overwelming if looking at it that way. To be able to recognize the areas you need to focus on is more then most do. I think its best to make a list, grade where you are in each area, and work to improve each individually. Try not to think "God, my game is aweful" but think "I'm improving in this area". Over the course of a season (maybe even without realizing it) those grades will improve. Its important to not get too high on the good nights and not get too low on the bad ones but remain focused on the big picture and (in time) many of these will become natural. Laugh a lot, it helps keep things in perspective that its just a game.
Posted by: mmalsed

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 11:25 AM

Honestly, if you're still using a house ball, you're not going to make a whole lot of progress.

You have to actually grip and muscle a house ball which is counter to everything you are trying to learn. If you can get a ball drilled for you, do so quickly, and this will make your learning process much easier.
Posted by: JW123

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 02:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Calvin Pistorio
My point was also that JW123 said the shoulders should never be like that, and I pointed out it was wrong to say never.


No, what I was saying is that you should never swivel your shoulders around during the swing the way he was doing it. He was starting square, opening way up during the backswing to the point that the ball was always going behind his back, and then his downswing was sometimes staying open, sometimes closing, sometimes going back to squared, and on one of them (the one it looked like he threw in the right ditch) opening even further. This inconsistency is the number one cause of spraying the ball all over the place, hence my saying his shots are passing the arrows in a 15 board window.

Most of the time, it's best to be open throughout your approach (anytime your target is to the right of your right arm, you should be open). Sometimes, you should be square (good example is if you're playing the rail, you can't open up or your ball will be in the channel right out of your hand), and sometimes you need to be closed a bit (think shooting cross lane at a 7 pin from the far right). I was taught to pre-set my launch angles, and keep the same body orientation--shoulders and hips--throughout my five steps. Learned it from Brian O'Keefe, who is a pretty fair coach I would say.

I mentioned the 6 pin drill because I get the impression that he is fairly new to the game. He shows the traits of a new bowler: using an alley ball and trying to overpower the pins. Step one for him should be learning to relax and free up his swing and roll the ball to and through a target arrow.

In my first league last summer one of the guys is a USBC certified coach. I was struggling and asked him for some advice. He said "Well that shot hit 7, the one before you pulled it and it went over 13, before that you hit 4, I can't help you much right now except that you have to stop muscling the ball, spinning your shoulders, and spraying it all over the place, and let your swing flow so you can hit generally the same target 10 times in a row. Once you get that part of it, I can help you learn something about lining up and lane play."
Posted by: JW123

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: TidalKnight
can you explain a bit more what you were talking about with the boards? I am not familiar with boards yet in relation to pins or curve..


When we talk about board numbers, it refers to the 39 panels which make up a bowling lane. You don't have to get on a knee and count them, trust me, there are 39.

Since you are a righty, you start counting boards at the right gutter. The board running along the gutter is board 1, the next one 2, and so forth.

There are seven arrows about 15 feet past the foul line, and each arrow is at increments of 5 boards. So the arrow closest to the gutter is the "5 board". The second arrow is the "10 board". That's where I suggested you play for my 6-pin drill because if you follow that board all the way down the lane, it will take you to the 6 pin, and the goal of that drill is to roll the ball straight--if your ball goes diagonally down the lane it means your swing direction is askew--this is not the same as a hook; a hook ball makes a J or U shape, a diagonal ball is just a straight ball thrown at an angle. The third arrow is the 15 board, and the arrow in the middle is the 20 board.

Once you relax your swing and focus on your target, you should be able to roll 20 shots and hit your target (or maybe miss by one board or two at the most) on every one. Then you can get into things like moving to different places on the approach and pre-setting your angles by opening or closing your shoulders in order to change the directional angles of your shots depending on lane conditions. Then you might become a 190-220 bowler. But it all has to start with a free swing, and yes, a properly fitted ball is going to make that 100 times easier than using an alley ball.

And at this point, the score monitor is the LAST thing you should be thinking about. It can only mess you up. You'll roll a good ball and leave a split and kick yourself for it, then throw a garbage ball, hit Brooklyn, have the rack explode and think you did good. Master the swing mechanics first and once you have that down, you can move on to learning how to adjust for what your ball is doing.
Posted by: Domokun

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 03:05 PM

Originally Posted By: JW123
Step one for him should be learning to relax and free up his swing and roll the ball to and through a target arrow.


Until he gets a ball drilled perfectly for his hand, hopefully with forward pitch in the thumb, he's going to have an awful time working a free swing. Otherwise, he's always going to be gripping the ball, and it's just so difficult to tell a new bowler to relax the arm all while the hand's holding on for dear life what with that bus full of nuns behind him and all</coachJim>.

I'd go with adjusting the timing (ball comes down on the right foot) until that new ball comes in, then free/drop-ball-into-swing. You can do that with really any ball. Or no ball.

Like some others have said, I'm betting the whole swing plane issue will go away with timing and grip adjustments.
Posted by: metguy

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 04:24 PM

Now by no means am i looking to insult anyone but I couldn't help thinking of the great [censored] Weber of the late 50's and early 60's. I was wondering how "relaxed grip" and "free armswing" factored into his game during those early years. Seems to me he turned out pretty darn good. I don't know, maybe he was the inventor of the relaxed grip and free armswing.

While understanding (todays) proper fundamentals is very important, its not critical from a viewpoint that unless those fundamentals are established in your game you can not possibly acheive greatness.

I would think throwing a 14 pound house ball on a THS could play like some of these Pro bowlers on long animal patterns. Its about angle and speed, might want to be accurate also but all those factors can be done with a house ball on that typical house shot (THS). Just don't lose sight in the fact that your natural progression next will be to a ball that is properly fitted and will present the second teir of challenges.

TidalKnight, you are in a great position with where you are as a bowler. Many bowlers wish they could go back to the beginning and start over and do things differently (i know i do). You have the oppertunity to establish a well rounded game through time most of us probably won't be able to acheive simply because we're too stubbornly focused on the present. Learn the straight game with both your strikes and spares through the use of plastic (if you want), keep your opinions open to whats available, and look to improve in all areas as your abilities grow and your options with your arsonal grows.

There's nothing wrong with not understanding how to make use of the arrows or how to make corrections to get your ball to the pocket consistantly. But, until those things are sorted out, it seems i bit much to expect anyone to understand free-armswing and relaxed grip techniques. You'll get it quick enough, but understanding the why's of what your doing and when to do it is so much more important then just knowing how to do it.
Posted by: PowerBall

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 07:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Domokun
Originally Posted By: JW123
Step one for him should be learning to relax and free up his swing and roll the ball to and through a target arrow.


Until he gets a ball drilled perfectly for his hand, hopefully with forward pitch in the thumb, he's going to have an awful time working a free swing. Otherwise, he's always going to be gripping the ball, and it's just so difficult to tell a new bowler to relax the arm all while the hand's holding on for dear life what with that bus full of nuns behind him and all</coachJim>.

I'd go with adjusting the timing (ball comes down on the right foot) until that new ball comes in, then free/drop-ball-into-swing. You can do that with really any ball. Or no ball.

Like some others have said, I'm betting the whole swing plane issue will go away with timing and grip adjustments.


My ball is coming friday (can't come soon enough), and because our UPS guy likes to come at 10 at night I will get it drilled saturday with fingertip grip. Should I mention forward pitch?

I've never used a custom bowling ball... does the ball literally stay on your hand or do you have to hold it a little? cuz I don't want to drop it in the backswing or throw it at someone..
Posted by: Calvin Pistorio

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/19/11 07:52 PM

Originally Posted By: JW123
Originally Posted By: Calvin Pistorio
My point was also that JW123 said the shoulders should never be like that, and I pointed out it was wrong to say never.


No, what I was saying is that you should never swivel your shoulders around during the swing the way he was doing it. He was starting square, opening way up during the backswing to the point that the ball was always going behind his back, and then his downswing was sometimes staying open, sometimes closing, sometimes going back to squared, and on one of them (the one it looked like he threw in the right ditch) opening even further. This inconsistency is the number one cause of spraying the ball all over the place, hence my saying his shots are passing the arrows in a 15 board window.

Most of the time, it's best to be open throughout your approach (anytime your target is to the right of your right arm, you should be open). Sometimes, you should be square (good example is if you're playing the rail, you can't open up or your ball will be in the channel right out of your hand), and sometimes you need to be closed a bit (think shooting cross lane at a 7 pin from the far right). I was taught to pre-set my launch angles, and keep the same body orientation--shoulders and hips--throughout my five steps. Learned it from Brian O'Keefe, who is a pretty fair coach I would say.

I mentioned the 6 pin drill because I get the impression that he is fairly new to the game. He shows the traits of a new bowler: using an alley ball and trying to overpower the pins. Step one for him should be learning to relax and free up his swing and roll the ball to and through a target arrow.



You actually said the shoulders should never be open like that during the approach, and even when playing the rail you can open your shoulders up as long as you close them back up going into the release point as you do any other time. Your shoulders and body should always end up squared with your target line. Sure your body should be angled to line up with your target line but you can open up the shoulders during the approach and still keep that launch angle. I agree his finishing angle, and his finishing spot on the approach is all over the place.

Still in order to learn a free swing he needs to get a ball drilled for him, like it's been said gripping the ball is counter-productive to that. It's still going to be a lot of work to get the swing free and the swing plane straight. It's hard for most to get past that little voice in their head that says they have to control it.
Posted by: Domokun

Re: Please help with my awful approach/swing - 10/20/11 07:59 PM

Originally Posted By: TidalKnight
My ball is coming friday (can't come soon enough), and because our UPS guy likes to come at 10 at night I will get it drilled saturday with fingertip grip. Should I mention forward pitch?

I've never used a custom bowling ball... does the ball literally stay on your hand or do you have to hold it a little? cuz I don't want to drop it in the backswing or throw it at someone..


Awesome you're getting it on the weekend which only means more playtime with it. Hopefully, this pro shop is actually at your preferred center.

Anyway, CoachJim says "Would you rather palm a basketball or a baseball?"

If you can palm a basketball, then a stretched span and reverse pitch is great. There's a few guys here who can because they have Gumby hands so this layout is perfect for them. If you're one of them, then don't read further. If you'd rather palm a baseball, then keep reading.

For the life of me I cannot find CoachJim's basic span and pitch post--there's a million posts floating around, but I can give you this link for the exact same info: Ron Clifton Ball Fit (To answer your question directly: Forward pitch = ball hang on you vs. reverse pitch = you hang on ball.)

Clifton's got another article where he talks about the inexact science of this, and I can testify to spending inordinate amounts of time messing around with my thumbhole's pitch--it's 1/2" forward now, whirlpool of bevel, vent hole*. But, since you're new, this'll go much easier for you. You just want a free swing and it's best done with forward pitch. There, I said it.

Print out that page from Clifton and take it with you. The driller'll know what you're talking about, but if he or she won't do it...hmmm...get another driller. Sayin'.

Bevel or not to bevel. Up to you. Some like it sharp. Some like it soft. If the shop is in the center, leave the thumb insert as is and go throw it and see what happens. Bad things happen? No problem. Driller will fix to your comfort. Same thing with the thumb insert snugness. You won't know til you get there.

This'll take awhile, but trust me, it'll pay off right now as opposed to money and time (and remote chance of injury) spent down the road.

*Full disclose: This process got a lot more efficient when I teamed up with my ball driller on a sport shot league. He'd see a ball hang up/fall back on my thumb, and he'd pull it off the rack and put it in his car for fixin' the next day. Luxury.

Have fun!