How to Spin a Bowling Ball: A Step-by-Step Guide

How To Spin A Bowling Ball: A Step-By-Step Guide

Do you want to know how to spin a bowling ball?

It’s going to take proper form and practice, just like any sport.

I can help you with your form and understand why certain steps must be taken to spin a bowling ball effectively.

Let’s start by going straight to the fundamentals: how you hold your ball.

From there, we’re going to move on to your full, step-by-step instruction on how to spin your ball with near perfection.

The rest is all up to you and how much you practice. Let’s get into it.

Start by Holding it the Right Way.

Holding it the right way

I don’t want to make it sound like you’ve never held a bowling ball the right way, I don’t know you, so this section is written as if you’ve never held a bowling ball in your life.

It’s just good to double down on the fundamentals.

Start with these tips to know if you’re holding the ball correctly.

  • Only use your thumb, your ring finger, and your middle finger to hold the bowling ball. Your index finger is clunky, and your pinky isn’t strong enough to support it.
  • Don’t over-tighten your fingers. It’s a 16 lb ball, so you should have the strength to hold it, but your fingers shouldn’t hurt after one successful roll.
  • Use your dominant hand. Some guides advise against this, but for the sake of accuracy and the fact that your dominant hand is stronger, that’s the one you should be using.
  • Keep your elbow loose to avoid injury.

How to Spin a Bowling Ball

Most of the time, people go to roll the ball, and it just kind of falls to the lane and then starts awkwardly panning to one side.

We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen.

This is your step-by-step method for spinning that bowling ball from your feet and knee placement to when you let go.

First Step

Man Taking Bowling Shot

Use your right foot and step forward, leaving your left foot behind you.

At this point, you have picked the ball up, and it’s hanging by your side. Bend your elbow up, but keep your wrist straight.

Your ball should be about chest-level at this point.

Left Foot Out

Step forward with your left foot and start lowering the ball, giving it momentum until it’s completely down by your side.

Keep that momentum up for the next step; don’t just stall here. Pay attention to your footing so you can guarantee you’ll hit your mark.

It’s important to keep your eyes on the pins and the lane but have enough situational awareness to know what your body is doing.

Bend the Knee

Step in the right your right leg again, and start bending down as you bring the ball up behind yours.

Your arm should be completely straight at about a 40° angle, but do not lose control of the ball.

If you feel it slipping, abandon the position and let your arm loose so it can swing back down by your side. If you’re locked in and ready to go, touch on step four.

The Step

Woman Bowling

Your last physical step is putting your left foot forward as the ball comes back down to your side, very close to the floor.

Keep your focus forward and get ready for the drop and slide. Release the ball at the end of your step.

The Slide

If done right, you’ve taken four physical steps, and the ball is leaving your hand.

Once it does, your bowling shoes should slide on the lane a bit.

The lane is oiled and/or waxed, and with the momentum you’ve given, you should still slide a bit once you’ve stopped swinging the ball.

Keep your position, eyes on the ball, and watch where it makes contact.

It’s important to remain focused at this point so you can see how the ball behaves, and you can adjust your swing accordingly.

Why Can’t You Use Your Index Finger to Spin a Bowling Ball?

Man Holding Bowling Ball

Picture the way a bowling ball is designed. The two holes in the back are evenly spaced apart, meaning if you put your index finger in one, you would have to put your pinky in the other to distribute the weight across your hand evenly.

Just hold up your hand right now, and have your palm facing away from you.

Look at the way your arm and wrist extend into your hand and then bend each finger individually.

You’ll feel that your middle and ring fingers are the center of your hand (technically, your thumb is not a finger, keep that in mind).

Using other fingers would seriously throw off that balance in your hand.

A bowling ball weighs 16 pounds, so relying on the strongest fingers in your hand will ensure the weight is distributed evenly through your wrist and your arm, avoiding injuries.

This is important because you’re not going to land a strike (not easily, at least) using your index finger.

You’re basically trying to land the ball at an angle, and at that distance from the pins, it’s going to really offset your shot.

It’s like riding a bicycle with a slightly bent front wheel; it just doesn’t work.

Are Low Mass Bowling Balls Better for Spinning?

Low Mass Bowling Balls

Low mass bowling balls generally are better for spinning and are even allowed in most PBA tournaments.

This is because the weight block, or the core of the bowling ball, can be manipulated.

It will still be within the standard, necessary weight range for professional league bowling balls. It just has a different weight block shape.

Most weight blocks are circular, allowing for an even amount of resin and coating on the ball’s rest.

Low mass bowling balls with an oblong weight block can actually help your bowling ball’s forward momentum if it’s centrally located directly beneath the finger holes.

This means that it rolls forward a bit easier, but at the end of the day, it’s still a ball rolling down an oiled slab of wood—it’s not going to be a major reason as to why you land your strikes. It just might provide small amounts of assistance.

A Quick Word About Lane Conditions

Empty Bowling Lane

Lane conditions are different between house lanes, standard bowling alley lanes, and professional bowling alley lanes.

Lane conditions will either assist you in hitting those pins or make it harder.

If you’re going to play with the idea of going pro one day, you need to understand that professional alley conditions are completely unforgiving.

They are intended to make you miss your shots, or at the very least, not offer any assistance.

Keep it in mind when you spin a bowling ball.

Spin Like a Pro

The most famous bowler in history, who spun just about every ball he ever tossed, was Earn Anthony—41-time PBA titleholder.

Whether you’re going to pursue the pro league or not, one thing is for certain: you now know how to gain a competitive advantage over everyone else that you’re up against, for fun or sport.

Put this into practice, keep at it, and soon enough, you’ll be able to triumph over any lane condition out there.

You’ve got this.

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