Bowling: Do you have to spin the ball to become really good?

Every time I’ve watched bowling on TV, the bowlers spin the ball. I go bowling once-a-year at the most. But I once bowled a 210 without putting any spin on the ball. I assume that someone really good would be able to do better and become a professional. Does pro bowling disallow straight rollers to enter their tournaments, or are there no really good straight rollers out there?

You can throw a strike with a straight ball. But the margin for error is VERY small. With a spinning ball, which curves through the pins, the margin for error is (slightly) larger. The bowlers with the best scores use the spinning ball technique.


I watched bowling on the TV for the first time in years. Are the pro’s putting more curve of the ball than they used to?

So, you’re the one… :smiley:

There was an article on bowling in the L.A. Times a few days ago, talking about how the game has gotten easier over the years due to the modern ways they treat the lanes, and advancements in ball technology. I don’t bowl more than once every few years, but it was still a pretty interesting article. Anyway, they mentioned that one of the bowling ball companies did a study and determined that if you roll straight at the pins, that there is a 1-inch margain of error to get a strike. Spinning, and coming in from an angle, will more than double that margain, making it much more reliable for professionals.

  • Anamorphic, who was very happy when he once broke 100 bowling. Not exactly ready for the big leagues.

Newer materials make softer balls.
Soft balls grip the lane better thus letting the ball curve more.
Hehehe…I said “soft balls”:smiley:

Okay, but my girlfriend obliterates me every time we go bowling. How DO you spin the ball? What’s proper bowling technique?

  • Cheese Monster, happy to break 110

Bowling has gotten easier, according to my grandfather.

He’d know. He scored a tournament 300 in 1963. He took teams to the ABC’s until about five years ago. He’s still bowling at age 93.

In his day, he threw a mean hook.

Basically, without referring you to an instructional site, you use your standard correct straight ball delivery, except you hold your thumb at the 10 or 11 o’ clock position and squeeze your hand when the ball is just over the foul line at the bottom of your delivery. This is avoiding proper delivery instruction, and perhaps will be able to help you find some instructional sites that may support or debunk my thoery.

An personal experience which supports the spin theory:

I used to bowl every so often years ago, and used to average about 140 or so. Recently I went bowling again after a layoff of several years. Prior to the trip I read a book about bowling and had someone explain to me the spin technique.

220 on the first game. Highest score ever. Next game was 205. Maybe this is extreme, but it sure as hell seemed to work for me.

Curving the ball is more advantageous…this is why.

When you straight roll a ball, it (the ball) and the pins that are hit push straight backwards. However, when you put a spin on the ball, there are two momentums…the spinning direction and the actual propelling movement (my own terms). When a spinning ball hits a pin, not only does the pins push straight backwards, the spinning momentum can actuall redirect the ball to another area of the lane…to hit the other pins. So say you spin around to the 1-3 pocket. The ball hits and pushes the 1,3 and most likely 2,4,5,7 and 8 (think of the left side of the triangle) …but it also changes direction slightly and goes for the right side too.

that is why, and also:

you want the ball to come into the pyramid of pins at an angle, “wedging” your ball in between the first two pins. the only way to do this is to spin, obviously. the reason you want the ball to roll in at an angle is this: you want the ball to contact the first two pins (on either the right or left side) so that they travel straight into the other outer pins. this assures the best possibility that they will all fall… direct, initial contact rather than spinning, bouncing, deflecting and then falling. after these outer pins fall, the rolling ball will take care of the inner pins.

you could never be accurate enough to be best in the world without spinning… or it would be an amazing feat of beating odds.

bowlers, please correct me if this seems a little off. i also bowl about once a year. :slight_smile:

edit: "on either side of the pyramid) > in parenthesis in 2nd paragraph.

to be a little more clear, you would like the outer pins to be struck perfectly squarely by the ball, almost simultaneously. on a prefect bowl, you would like to see the outer pins fall together in succession like dominos. if this is done, the inner pins are sure to fall 99% of the time.

Now, me, personally, being a hopeless duffer: I throw the ball from as far to the right of the lane as possible, aiming at the gap between the 1 and 3 pins…and I throw the ball AS FAST AND AS HARD as possible! Whee! When it hits, those pins go flying like… Well, like ninepins… They just go buzzsawing through the air! It’s great! It creates a zone of devastation in which nothing can live!

But…it also has a nasty tendency to leave a 7-10 or 4-10 split, and my technique is of no use against those!