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  Why throw a Hook Ball?

Anyone can throw a ball straight down the lane and you can get a strike, but this style of play will limit most people to a 180 average. Throwing a hook ball is one way of scoring more.

What's wrong with a straight ball?

Nothing. To say one style is wrong is insulting to those who choose to use it. Almost everyone who bowls probably learned with a straight ball to start with, because the other styles require skills which take time to practise and learn. We need to remember where we started from and - recalling the three 'stages' of man (crawling on all fours as a baby, walking on two legs as an adult and limping on three, the cane, in old age) - be aware the we may end up back there in the future.

But the question comes down to one of goals: what do you want out of your bowling, are you happy with a style that may limit you to about 180 or do you want a higher average? A ball delivered straight down the middle is likely to leave a split. The other limiting factor seen with the straight ball is deflection: the ten pins weigh over thirty pounds and, as the ball cannot weigh more than sixteen pounds, so your ball will encounter significant amounts of deflection as it hits the pins. As the ball deflects it becomes harder to 'carry' all ten pins, you will be likely to leave the center pins standing. So a straight ball delivery and an understanding of simple targetting systems can raise your average to around 180, what we call a 'spare-game' because if you make all your spares you will score around 180-190 each game.

It's simple and anyone can roll a straight ball - Straight bowlers rely on spares to average around 180
- Deflection makes it harder to string strikes together
- It's possible to strike, but noone is accurate enough to repeat the shot consistently

Angle Of Entry
angle of entry

Many years ago someone conducted an experiment to find out what was the best way to strike. To make the results valid and repeatable they set up a ramp and rolled the ball - straight - at the pins. What they found was that the angle at which the ball rolled into the pins was very important: with the optimum angle they could roll strike after strike after strike. The key learning, however, was that this optimum angle of entry could not be created by rolling the ball straight down from the edge of the lane - to create that angle you must use a hook ball delivery.
To roll a hook ball the bowler must develop a 'release', getting the ball off the thumb and using the fingers to put side rotation on the ball. The ball will skid down the lane, through the oil, and the rotation will start to move the ball ("hook") towards the pins. Because the ball is rolling into the pins it is less likely to suffer as much deflection and more likely to carry the center pins.

- For spares the straight ball release is ideal, keep it simple & less chance of hooking away off target
- If the condition is such that the hook style is too unpredictable revert to the straight ball
- The Helicopter shot actually uses deflection and spin to mix the pins up
- A perfect hook ball only hits four pins! It hits the pocket (1-3 pins for a right-hander) and rolls through to hit the 5-pin then deflect into the 9-pin. All other pins are knocked over by other pins moving off the ball and into them.

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