There are several different ways to bowl a bowling ball, and some people seem to have a natural talent for the sport. However, if you are left-handed, you will undoubtedly experience some difficulties. If you want to bowl your trademark shot, for example, you’ll need to become acclimated to the way the ball rolls after a left handed bowling release. And, if you utilize the same bowling equipment as the majority of bowlers (right-handed), you won’t even be able to perform your unique bowling technique! You will, nevertheless, also benefit from being a rarity at the alley. Therefore, these left handed bowling tips are meant to help beginners and players who want to improve their game.
Table of Contents
- 1 Does Bowling Left Handed Have Any Advantages?
- 2 Are There Left Handed Bowling Balls?
- 3 Bowling Tips for Left Handed Bowlers
- 4 What is the Pocket for a Left Handed Bowler?
- 5 How to Hook a Bowling Ball Left Handed
- 6 How to Spin a Left Handed Bowling Ball
- 7 Learn About the Different Types of Bowling Balls
Does Bowling Left Handed Have Any Advantages?
It is a widespread opinion that left-handed players have an advantage in many sports. On the other hand, there are a few sports in which players are banned from using their left hand. Even in the bowling community, some believe that left-handed bowlers have a massive advantage over others. It is not a secret that left-handed bowlers are fewer in number (only 10% of the world’s population) when compared to right-handed bowlers. This allows left-handed bowlers to have access to the other side of the lane, which has more of a consistent oil pattern as this side lacks the traffic of right-handed bowlers. Left-handed bowlers, therefore, do not need to keep changing their bowling balls or lane positions as frequently as right-handed bowlers. Even your opponent is usually not prepared or accustomed to bowling against left-handed bowlers, which brings in the element of surprise.
Since you’re a lefty, you may think that you have all the advantages in the world to become a master at bowling, but there is more to it. Now, imagine a tournament where you are not the only left-handed bowler. Now you will have a tough time deciding when to change balls and switch sides during your game, as the majority of the left-handed bowlers aren’t accustomed to changing their positions.
This means you shouldn’t become overconfident just because of the advantages you possess. Instead, practice like a right-handed bowler and be prepared to go against another left-handed bowler. Make it a point to ensure that you know when to change balls or switch positions beforehand.
There are also a few bowling tips that you can incorporate to use them to your advantage. We shall be exploring them below in the article.
Are There Left Handed Bowling Balls?
A special left handed bowling ball is a myth. All bowling balls are the same prior to the holes being drilled in them and most that are sold by retailers are non-drilled balls. You can buy one that’s best suited to your game and then get it drilled for your hand. Not only will it be done to suit your dominant hand, but you can customize it for the size of your hand and fingers.
Most of the house balls that you will find in the alley are drilled for right-handed bowlers. You can use them, but it will affect your game as those balls are not suited for left handed play. It isn’t easy to differentiate a ball made for a left-handed bowler from that for a righty. Left-handed bowling balls have the placement of the ring finger behind the middle finger, and the center weight is in front of the thumb slightly towards the left.
Therefore, if you are a lefty, you do not need to fret about using a special bowling ball. Instead, just ensure that the ball is drilled for your left hand. You also get pre-drilled balls on Amazon and elsewhere, but you should be extra cautious while buying as most of them would be made for right-handed bowlers (considering their majority in the market). In such cases, you should take it to a pro shop and get it re-drilled and the original holes should be plugged.
Otherwise, our guide for best bowling ball for left-handers will help you choose one that’s suited to your game.
Bowling Tips for Left Handed Bowlers
Here are a few left handed bowling tips to master the craft of bowling. You can use them to your advantage against your opponent in the next game.
Buy Your Own Ball and Get it Custom Drilled
Of all the tips, this one is the most important. Don’t use the house balls! They’re almost always drilled for the right hand so using them with your left hand will probably frustrate you.
It is always suggested to have your ball that is drilled for your left hand. A ball drilled for a lefty provides for a better game due to its adjusted center weight and finger hole placements.
The most frequent concerns faced by bowlers are irregular fitted finger and thumb holes. To avoid this, you can buy a non-drilled ball online and either while checking out ask them to drill it before shipping (a few brands let you do this) or get a non-drilled ball, take it to your local pro shop, and ask them to custom drill holes based on measurements of your hand in accordance with the ball’s core type and location. The latter is recommended and is the better option as pro shops have people to measure your hand, and they have professional drillers and reliable equipment, making it the safest bet. Note that pro shops will charge you somewhere between $20 to $40 for custom drilling unless you buy the ball from them. However, it is almost always cheaper to buy one online so the extra fee will usually balance out.
Buy your Own Bowling Shoes Instead of using the Alley’s Rentals
Similar to bowling balls, almost all the shoes you’ll find in your regular bowling alley will be either for right-handed bowlers or have identical left and right soles. But you can easily spot the difference between a shoe made for a lefty and that for a right-handed bowler by just looking at the sole. Shoes made for left-handed bowlers have a sliding sole on the right shoe and a traction sole on the left shoe. Having a sliding sole on the right side is a must for left-handed bowlers as it is the right foot which you will use to slide while bowling. The presence of the traction sole on the left foot also drastically improves your game.
Most cheap bowling shoes and house bowling shoes have sliding soles on both the shoes so that they serve both left-handed and right-handed bowlers. These shoes are typically only made for sliding and not traction. Owning your own pair of bowling shoes with the correct soles will always enhance your performance. You can further customize the soles for sliding or traction, depending on your bowling style. We have reviewed the top choices for left handed bowling shoes for men and women.
Perfect your Stance and Action
Want to know how to bowl a strike every time? There are some bowling alignment tips that are proven to work consistently. The angle of attack for lefties wanting to get into the pocket for a strike is very different from what is needed for righties. You should aim at the 1-2 pocket instead of the 1-3 pocket. This means you should aim for the space between the 1st and 2nd pins on the left side. But that’s not all, as the ball has to strike at an angle and not straight in order to get a strike, which means you will need a bit of a hook. Align your throw using the arrows and aim for a perfect hit. If you don’t get it right, be prepared to change balls and use your spare if you have one.
Moreover, always observe your bowling style. Remember how far back you are bringing your arm, where do you place your feet, how you swing your arm, and at what angle do you finally release the ball. Start making necessary left handed bowling adjustments to these essential aspects to improve your game.
You also should work to be consistent with your action. If you find that you’re not stabilizing your wrist at release, then consider getting a left handed bowling wrist brace. This will help support and keep your wrist properly aligned.
Read Oil Patterns on the Lane
As I have already mentioned, the oil pattern is usually more consistent on the left side due to less traffic. However, this consistent oil pattern is only helpful if it is in the right spots. The way the ball travels on the same lane for a righty is not necessarily the mirror image for a lefty. If you are a professional league player, you must understand the differences in the bowling lanes and their oil patterns. Always study the oil patterns on your side of the lane and take into account any overlapping lines with the right side of the lane. In general, a dry lane makes hooking easier, while an oilier lane makes it more difficult.
What is the Pocket for a Left Handed Bowler?
The “pocket” is almost a 5 inch spot right between the 1st and 2nd pin for lefties and between the 1st and the 3rd pin for righties. This pocket is what you should aim for if you want all nine pins to go down. But, remember there is more to it. As mentioned above, throwing the ball at the right speed, the angle of impact, and the hook are all crucial to ensure a strike. The oil on the lane also plays a factor. Even though it adds complexity to your game, it is almost impossible to get a strike without the oil.
How to Hook a Bowling Ball Left Handed
The hook shot could be one of the best skills you can learn in bowling. It is also quite widely used by professional bowlers.
The fingertip grip instead of the conventional grip is your way towards a great bowling left-handed hook. Your thumb goes entirely inside the ball in this grip, whereas your middle and ring fingers go in only till the first knuckle. This is an advanced grip that allows for a better hook, but at the same time hampers control for beginners.
As soon as you make your final step to bowl, remove your thumb from the ball. If you cannot remove it at the right time, controlling the ball will be difficult. Remember, it is the other two fingers (middle and index) that dominate the hook.
Right after this, the ball reaches its lowest point, and the weight shifts to your fingers. This is the precise moment when you should remove your fingers and, at the same time, turn them clockwise (for lefties). This is called a lift. It should be a fast flicking motion that provides the ball with more force while also letting you take control of your shot.
Next is the hook follow through. Your arm should swing forward and towards the pocket.
Let’s look at the impact of the hand position on the hook. A strong hand position produces the most hook, whereas the relaxed position produces the least. The firm hand position lies between these two. For lefties, to accommodate these positions, it should start from the left side of the lane for the relaxed position so that the ball rolls straighter down the left side of the lane and a small hook should hit the pocket. You should shift towards the middle for the firm position to get a medium hook with a slight angle towards the pocket, and shift even further to the left for the strong hand position and a large hook to hit the pocket.
How to Spin a Left Handed Bowling Ball
Many bowlers attempt to force spin for the hook by moving their arm sideways across their bodies or by using their wrist. However, this makes the ball hard to control and you will frequently end up in the gutter. This won’t happen if you learn how to aim a bowling ball with proper technique.
The correct bowling swing is on a straight plane. To hook the ball two forces, side rotation and revolution, are needed. These are not the result of movement from your wrist, but the way you release and flick your fingers.
The spin shot has more control and provides for a better angle to get a strike. To spin your ball, begin with a lighter ball while practicing. Like the hook, keep your hand in a way as if you are going for a handshake, and your wrists should line up with your hand. Now, check out the arrows marked on the lane. For left-handed players, your focus should be on the second arrow from the left side.
Always keep your arm straight and if you are a lefty, raise your left foot and plant your right foot while throwing the ball. Lastly, just let the ball slip off your thumb and then immediately release your fingers. All of this cumulatively will ensure a perfect spin.
I hope you have found these tips for left handed bowlers useful and that you’re raring to go. With a little practice, you should be in good form in no time!