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Questions about ball reaction, revolutions and approach – December 2009

Q: I put a great deal of spin on the ball and it just skids right down the lane. I’ve been trying to slow the spin but it kills my ring finger so much that I have pain the next week. Suggestions?

A: To get more hook, you need more forward roll and less side roll. The goal should be to get your hand behind the ball during the release. Talk to your pro shop operator and have him/her tighten the grip on the middle finger and loosen the grip on the ring finger. You could even have a finger grip installed in the middle finger hole and have any grip in the ring finger hole removed. During practice sessions, concentrate on releasing the ball with the thumb in the 1 o’clock position and the hand almost directly behind the ball. If you can develop more forward roll, you shouldn’t need to change bowling balls or the speed of the ball.

Q: I am a pretty straight-up-the boards track area bowler and have had some pretty good success. I’ve been told that I’m fairly accurate, which is important for tougher lane conditions. I’m able to stay behind the ball or come around it based on the lane condition that I’m facing. I am very happy with my style, but am wondering how to make the necessary adjustments to put more revs on the ball when it seems advantageous to do so.

A: Most bowlers who create a lot of revolutions on the ball do so by having a late release — the slide or last step of the approach arrives at the stop position well ahead of the arm and hand. They then use the final step to pull the arm down and through the release point. This timing is essentially one full step ahead of normal timing, where the ball and the final step arrive at the release point at the same time. Watch bowlers like Robert Smith and Jason Couch, and you’ll note that the arm is well behind the slide leg as it proceeds through the release zone. These bowlers also use a cupped wrist so their fingers come out of the ball even later.

Q: I take a five-step approach, and need to know how I can finish in a solid position at the foul line. I also want to know how to have a ball drilled for a short hook.

A: The reason you’re off balance during the release is probably because you’re pushing the ball into the swing too quickly. If you want to use a five-step approach, the push-away should not be started until the first step is completed. You might also consider switching to a four-step approach. As for drilling the ball for a specified amount of hook, your best bet is to work with your pro shop operator. Every hand and every situation is unique.

Q: Bill O’Neill, Doug Kent and Mike Wolfe came to Paris for a clinic, and now I want to learn more. I am 48, average around 195, and would like to know where I could go in the United States for a week of instruction.

A: There are numerous coaches in the U.S. who have extensive knowledge of the game and can be helpful. My first recommendation would be Bill Hall, who recently relocated to Texas. You can reach him at nextlevelbowling. com. Also excellent is Mark Baker, who works out of a number of centers in Southern California and heads up a clinic with other former pros that is conducted in Las Vegas. Given all the great instructors present, this clinic is a real bargain. Info: markbakerbowling.com.