I am league bowler and have always bowled with my right hand as I am very right hand dominate. Many years ago I severely injured my right hand but with physical therapy plus continuing to use my right hand thankfully, until now, there were no lasting effects.
Starting several years ago I started to have some pain/swelling/gripping issues with my right hand, especially while bowling. My doctor said that due to the injury and I am getting older (late 50s) in simple terms my hand is “worn out”.
I have dropped from a 16 lb. ball to a 14 lb. ball and in order to get any sort of “performance” ball probably can’t go below 13 lbs. and that might even be too heavy.
So thinking about league bowling next year and switching to my left hand. Have any people out there on this forum done this successfully? I have tried left handed with a house ball and looked like a drunken 1st time bowler. There would be some cost involved, at minimum drilling one of my old bowling balls for left handed. For those uniformed, in league bowling you need to declare which hand you are bowling with and can’t just switch back and forth willy-nilly.
I am also (sadly) open to just not bowling any more in a competitive league if my chance of being a decent bowler after switching would be non-existent.
I knew a guy who could use either hand. He picked up spares on the opposite side of his hand, so left hand used to pick up a 6-10. I don’t know what would happen if I tried. I had to relearn my right hand bowling once I found out how to do it properly, I had started out just flinging the ball down the lane without any regular pattern. With some good advice I developed a decent form for my right hand. Maybe starting out doing it properly with my left hand would work out.
Unfortunately, if you are not ambidextrous or partially ambidextrous, it might be well nigh an impossible task. I was able to learn fairly quickly how to write left handed so I could better instruct left handed kids in cursive writing in 2nd grade. My brother shaves the left side of his face with his left hand and the right side of his face with his right hand. I guess we are genetically predispositioned that way. If, however, you are one of those people who “can’t do a thing” with your non-dominant arm, I seriously doubt you can learn to bowl well with that hand.
I switched hands for tennis after messing up my elbow and was still able to play. I was much worse but the basics of a good swing were still stuck in my brain; I had decent form but definitely lacked control and power in comparison with my dominate hand.
This made games with my family more competitive although I’d sometimes switch back if I started losing and instantly regret it.
I don’t consider myself any more ambidextrous than the average person but I was also able to switch to mousing with my non-dominate hand. It sucked for a few weeks then I got used to it.
If you’re only interested in high stakes scratch bowling leagues, it’s likely you won’t do nearly as well with your off hand. But you don’t really know until you try, and give yourself enough time to learn how to bowl left handed. You’ve had years and years to learn right handed, and your left has never done it.
In a handicap league, your only being compared to your established left hand average, which is sure to be very low. It’s not the same as being in a scratch league, but you will have the opportunity to play, and not be a hinderance to your team.
It is a handicapped league. However, when the lowest average in the league is around 155 (mine is 158 down from 180 a few years ago) it would be somewhat embarrassing to be bowling with an average of 125 or lower.
This summer maybe I will use a house ball and practice left handed. If I am still a klutz at the end of summer I will give up on the league bowling until retired and then do the senior league.
It would take time. I finished by league bowling with a 172 average. I’m sure it would have gone down from there. But I built that up over 2 years after not bowling for 4 or 5 years, it just takes a while. Luckily I was in a league with a huge mix of bowling skills, so it didn’t look so bad as I struggled through the 140s.
Once in a while when I’m bowling poorly with my dominant right hand, I say “screw it” and bowl the last few frames of a game lefthanded. I’m not a league bowler, though. Once in a blue moon, I get a strike or pick up a spare after my first roll was a gutterball.
I had the opposite happen. I’m a righty; one morning my friends and I went to an open bowling session, bowl as many frames as you like between certain hours for a fixed price. Well I was never a great bowler and I’d guess my average was around 150. After one too many frames I got a vicious blister on my right hand. For the hell of it I threw a ball left handed instead. Strike! I bowled another - strike! After the 5th strike my friends were going crazy. One of them insisted I was bullshitting in being right-handed. Anyway, I continued but with each subsequent throw I started to screw up. I barely broke 200, the only time in my life that I did.
It was like my mind was detached from my throwing motion and was repeatable and apparently the right form. But I guess the brain caught up and rewired and I became more “aware” of my form and that’s when I started missing strikes.
I’ve been a league bowler on and off since my teen years. I don’t bowl right now but when I did my average was about the same as yours.
Switching hands seems like a huge undertaking. It’s not just about changing which hand/arm you use, but you have to relearn the whole mechanics involved in bowling. The way you hold the ball before moving, how you approach the lane, the way you move your arm, heck you’re even aiming at a different target since you’ll want to hit a different spot to get a strike.
That being said, I’ve changed my mechanics more than once over the years. I think it’s doable. You’ll have to accept that you will bowl like a newbie for a while. But fortunately you will still have experience and knowledge that you gained and once your body catches up I’m sure in time you’ll at least get back where you were.
I suggest if you really want to do this, practice a lot outside of league play. Maybe even skip a year if you’re worried about being judged or embarrassing yourself. The leagues I’ve bowled in, being handicap leagues, have players of all skill levels and I’ve been the weak link before and felt accepted so I am sure you’d be fine but if you’re not confident then wait until you feel ready.
I’m surprised there’s so little comment in this thread about two handed bowling. Seems to be the new thing and some of those guys are just awesome. There doesn’t appear to be a standard form for the style just yet; still lots of experimentation going on.
Something else I’ll mention – I was always just a casual occasional bowler, never competitive or in a league – probably averaged around 145 and considered breaking 150 a good game for me.
One night after work a group of us went out to bowl; I got an early out and went to the lanes early to throw some practice balls before the rest of the group got there.
There was a major tournament at the place coming up in a few days. A guy came up to me and said “I’m a professional bowler. Would you mind if I gave you a few tips.” I said “Sure.”
He told me my wrist was very weak (I’ve never been strong or athletic) and rather than trying to muscle the ball to hook it it would probably be better if I just let my arm swing more naturally and allow the ball to turn outward instead of inward. He adjusted my stance, gave me some advice on targeting and stuff. I bowled a 190 for the first time in life, followed by a 210.
I don’t remember his name but, as with many things, there definitely something to be said for taking lessons from pro.
Interesting topic with little or no information out there about bowlers having success with their opposite hand.
When I was 17th, I had a bad accident from a fall, leading to a broken right wrist. The previous year, I averaged 166 in a junior league (1979). I wanted to keep bowling so I bowled left-handed for almost eight months the next season.
Once my right hand heeled, I bagged my other hand while still screwing around with it at times. In the fall bowling season in 1984, a couple of friends of mine and I were joining a late league with a handicap of 80 % of 200. The previous year, I averaged 211, 215, and 217 in three leagues. The owner of the lanes said we couldn’t bowl in the league as we would run away with the title. I asked him, what is I bowl lefty? He said that would work.
Over the next three seasons, I bowled in an early league right-handed and a late league left-handed. I went from 180 to 197 to 201 before bagging my left hand. I didn’t bowl in another league lefty for 11 years (186). My next try lefty didn’t come until 2013 (215). Over the past few seasons, I’ve continued to
bowl in one league righty and one lefty.
If you know to bowl righty, you know how to walk and should have some idea how to adjust. Teaching yourself to walk lefty takes some time while also needing to develop a release. Once you have a foundation skill set, your game should improve quickly.
My tag line for bowling on both sides of the lane is: lefties bowl downhill while righties bowl uphill (more friction).
Hey I know this is an old thread, but did you have success switching, go 2 handed, or quit? I’m in a very similar position. Ive been trying to bowl left handed the past year because of an injury after 22 years bowling right and its not going as well as I’d hoped. My average is down 65 pins from my RH average. I feel like I’ll never get close to where i used to be but the worst part is knowing I can make my body do exactly what i want with the other hand but feel so helpless using LH.
I dropped down to a 13 lb ball. More of a standard grip than finger tip and don’t try to “crank it” to put big hook on the ball. Basically a straight ball with a little hook at the end due to the drilling position and how the ball is weighted. Down to mid 150s for an average.
I did get a dedicated spare ball with a conventional grip to pick up the likes of the 10 pin. I have messed around throwing it left handed. Just throwing it straight at the head pin, doubt I will reach a level of using a performance ball but good enough for the “senior league “ after I retire.