Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

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Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 4th, 2021, 1:20 am

Hi all,

I have a question related to tape, grip pressure, and optimal technique for holding onto a bowling ball.

After watching this video by JR Raymound (

I was wondering if all my efforts to achieve equal grip pressure throughout the length of my entire thumb was necessary or even optimal. I have struggled with taping my thumbhole in order to achieve a very light grip pressure. I have been using the Tiered Taping method pioneered by Joe Slowinski (
which aims to reduce gripping pressure by accounting for anatomical differences in human thumbs and our innate tendency to grab the ball with the first knuckle. I have been trying to stop grabbing the ball, and bending my first knuckle, and can’t seem to figure out if my issue is with taping or if I need to change my gripping technique. Even when I hold the ball to my side I still feel the need to grip the ball or else it will fall out (which it does unless I add a lot of tape. My thumb hole is a little big and yes I have had a ball drilled by a qualified pro shop operator (several actually). I have heard several coaches say to keep your thumb nail pointed towards the back of the thumb hole, like JR Raymound and was wondering if a tiered taping method is necessary or optimal. I was under the assumption that with a good fit there would be equal pressure placed on the whole thumb and no need to point your thumb nail backwards. Do most PBA Professionals consciously pace their thumbnail towards the back of the thumb hole? Do they use a tiered taping method? Can tape alone help keep your thumb straight thereby eliminating the need to use the technique JR Raymound is discussing?

Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by Glenn » April 4th, 2021, 12:47 pm

516,

I have a couple of questions for you:

1. Is your thumb hole round or oval?
2. Do you know the pitch of your thumb hole?
3. How many layers of tape (front and back) are you applying?

Glenn
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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 4th, 2021, 1:16 pm

1. Is your thumb hole round or oval?

Currently, it is round but I have had oval holes too with the same issue.

2. Do you know the pitch of your thumb hole?

Not sure unfortunately. The ball does feel very comfortable in my hand though.

3. How many layers of tape (front and back) are you applying?

In order for the ball to feel somewhat snug I have to add at least 4-5 pieces of tape on the front and 1-2 on the back. If I use a tiered taping system I add a lot more tape to the bottom of the thumbhole.

If I let the ball hang straight down I still feel like the ball is coming off of my hand even with tape and I have to squeeze or it literally falls off. Is this a good test for proper fit? Or will everyone squeeze the ball in that position?

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by TomaHawk » April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm

jegreco516 wrote:
April 4th, 2021, 1:20 am
Hi all,

I was wondering if all my efforts to achieve equal grip pressure throughout the length of my entire thumb was necessary or even optimal. I have struggled with taping my thumbhole in order to achieve a very light grip pressure. I have been trying to stop grabbing the ball, and bending my first knuckle, and can’t seem to figure out if my issue is with taping or if I need to change my gripping technique.

My thumb hole is a little big and yes I have had a ball drilled by a qualified pro shop operator (several actually). I have heard several coaches say to keep your thumb nail pointed towards the back of the thumb hole. I was under the assumption that with a good fit there would be equal pressure placed on the whole thumb and no need to point your thumb nail backwards. Do most PBA Professionals consciously pace their thumbnail towards the back of the thumb hole? Do they use a tiered taping method?

Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
The shape of your hand, thumb, and texture have a lot to do with being able to hold a ball comfortably.

For example, the most common thumb issue I see, the tip of a person's thumb is substantially smaller than the rest of their thumb. It is very problematic. If this is the case with your thumb structure, it will be difficult to get an even amount of pressure across the entire front of the thumb. One highly successful bowler I knew who had this particular thumb type, made a wedged "pillow" at the bottom of his thumb hole to help keep the back of his thumb flat against the hole. Tedious to apply, but an effective remedy.

Not all PBA players would have a need to utilize the method of keeping their thumb nail on the back of the ball. It would depend on the shape of their thumb. But, having said that, keeping the thumb nail on the back of the thumb hole helps eliminate knuckling a bowling ball which translates into a more effective release.

I know bowlers who use extremely tight thumb holes, some use a looser fit, and others who fill the whole thumb hole with tape. It's a matter of feel and what works best for you personally.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by kajmk » April 4th, 2021, 5:34 pm

Supplemental reading

http://wiki.bowlingchat.net/wiki/index. ... p_Pressure

Someone in this thread below uses Joe's tiered taping method
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13269&p=102804&hilit=Rubber#p102804

Product Thumb Straight - Worth a look
https://www.bowlingindex.com/store/merc ... gory_Code=

Good luck, be sure to share what you've learned ...
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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 4th, 2021, 7:44 pm

TomaHawk wrote:
April 4th, 2021, 4:44 pm
The shape of your hand, thumb, and texture have a lot to do with being able to hold a ball comfortably.

For example, the most common thumb issue I see, the tip of a person's thumb is substantially smaller than the rest of their thumb. It is very problematic. If this is the case with your thumb structure, it will be difficult to get an even amount of pressure across the entire front of the thumb. One highly successful bowler I knew who had this particular thumb type, made a wedged "pillow" at the bottom of his thumb hole to help keep the back of his thumb flat against the hole. Tedious to apply, but an effective remedy.

Not all PBA players would have a need to utilize the method of keeping their thumb nail on the back of the ball. It would depend on the shape of their thumb. But, having said that, keeping the thumb nail on the back of the thumb hole helps eliminate knuckling a bowling ball which translates into a more effective release.

I know bowlers who use extremely tight thumb holes, some use a looser fit, and others who fill the whole thumb hole with tape. It's a matter of feel and what works best for you personally.
Do you happen to know how that particular bowler made his thumb "pillow"? Also, are there any fit "tests" to see if your gripping pressure is optimal? If it's supposed to feel like your holding a baby bird I have no idea how that is possible unless your thumbhole is very snug.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by star » April 4th, 2021, 9:31 pm

Here’s my trick taught to me by a very wise old pro.

I personally cannot use white tape at the front of the hole due to having very dry skin. I simply do not sweat so it causes calluses where it rubs.

What I do is I use tape on the back of my thumb. Then I use that a lining up aid for placing white tape in the back of the thumb hole making sure that my skin cannot rub on the tape.

I keep adding tape until I can just about force my thumb in the hole. I can use upto 7 or 8 pieces. I use 1 inch tape and tear it to width required. I literally stand with the ball over the ball return and bounce my hand to make it drop off to test it.

The white tape makes a Velcro like attachment to the tape on the back of my thumb allowing a very relaxed thumb pressure.

Again I have very dry hands so it works well for me. So much so after a few shots I’m usually adding tape to keep the pressure constant as my thumb shrinks. I even use a thin piece of super slick Teflon tape at the front of my thumb hole where the edge of my thumb rubs.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by TomaHawk » April 4th, 2021, 9:58 pm

jegreco516 wrote:
April 4th, 2021, 7:44 pm
Do you happen to know how that particular bowler made his thumb "pillow"? Also, are there any fit "tests" to see if your gripping pressure is optimal? If it's supposed to feel like your holding a baby bird I have no idea how that is possible unless your thumbhole is very snug.
He used layers of cork and tape to form the wedge. The commercial version is called: Thumbs Up or Thumb Straight. Haven't seen them in awhile though. Another concern would be the joint flexibility. Some people can bend their thumb at the knuckle almost 90* in an upward direction.

One way to analyze thumb structure is to place your thumb flat on a table and press down firmly. If the tip of the thumb appears much smaller than the upper part of the thumb, the wedge might necessary. Lift the tip of the thumb. If there is a lot of upper mobility, less reverse or more forward pitch could possibly be required to keep the ball on your hand.

In terms of how tight a person may like the thumb hole? Two examples, I like my thumb extremely tight, almost squeaky tight. On the flip side of that is a friend, professional bowler too, who likes his thumb on the loose side. The sides of his thumb barely touch the ball. Those two instances are the direct result of skin tautness. Btw, neither he, nor I, use an oval thumb.

Grip pressure? The pressure comes from the fingers not the thumb. There are a lot of variables too, but they are usually based on lane conditions.

For a bowler trying to get a feel for the game, how to hold a bowling ball is commonly described as "holding a baby bird" or a "raw egg". What that means, the bowler should not feel the need to grab the ball at any point in the swing.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 4th, 2021, 11:01 pm

TomaHawk wrote:
April 4th, 2021, 9:58 pm
He used layers of cork and tape to form the wedge. The commercial version is called: Thumbs Up or Thumb Straight. Haven't seen them in awhile though. Another concern would be the joint flexibility. Some people can bend their thumb at the knuckle almost 90* in an upward direction.

One way to analyze thumb structure is to place your thumb flat on a table and press down firmly. If the tip of the thumb appears much smaller than the upper part of the thumb, the wedge might necessary. Lift the tip of the thumb. If there is a lot of upper mobility, less reverse or more forward pitch could possibly be required to keep the ball on your hand.

In terms of how tight a person may like the thumb hole? Two examples, I like my thumb extremely tight, almost squeaky tight. On the flip side of that is a friend, professional bowler too, who likes his thumb on the loose side. The sides of his thumb barely touch the ball. Those two instances are the direct result of skin tautness. Btw, neither he, nor I, use an oval thumb.

Grip pressure? The pressure comes from the fingers not the thumb. There are a lot of variables too, but they are usually based on lane conditions.

For a bowler trying to get a feel for the game, how to hold a bowling ball is commonly described as "holding a baby bird" or a "raw egg". What that means, the bowler should not feel the need to grab the ball at any point in the swing.
Cork is a great idea. I will definitely try that. The tip of my thumb is very flexible and is definitely on the thinner side. This may be a stupid question but how does someone hold the ball with their fingers? I feel like it is very challenging to exert enough pressure on the fingers to allow them to do most of the work. Is using the fingers to hold the ball a conscious action or a result of a proper fit?

I really appreciate your help along with everyone else as well. I would love nothing more than to be able to throw one-handed without thumb or tension issues. I've been playing two-handed for awhile but as i get older, my back is not agreeing with the needed spine tilt.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by TomaHawk » April 5th, 2021, 2:38 am

The fingers hold the ball (with the thumb in the ball) similar to a one hand / no thumb bowler. The thumb is simply there to guide the ball. Once the ball is in motion, gravity does most of the work.

Supporting the ball in the stance with the opposite hand helps a great deal. Try to put at least 50% of the weight of the ball in your non bowling hand. Doing so removes a lot of tension on the hand, thumb, and other muscle groups in the wrist and arm. Let the ball swing like it's a pail of water.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 5th, 2021, 9:46 am

TomaHawk wrote:
April 5th, 2021, 2:38 am
The fingers hold the ball (with the thumb in the ball) similar to a one hand / no thumb bowler. The thumb is simply there to guide the ball. Once the ball is in motion, gravity does most of the work.

Supporting the ball in the stance with the opposite hand helps a great deal. Try to put at least 50% of the weight of the ball in your non bowling hand. Doing so removes a lot of tension on the hand, thumb, and other muscle groups in the wrist and arm. Let the ball swing like it's a pail of water.
Okay that makes sense. I am going to try to make the cork wedge and then test out my grip pressure to see if anything changes. I’ll report back soon

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by 44boyd » April 5th, 2021, 12:33 pm

Stacy

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 5th, 2021, 1:48 pm

44boyd wrote:
April 5th, 2021, 12:33 pm
This is what I use.

https://www.bowlingindex.com/thumbs-up- ... aight.html
I have seen these before and will have to try it out as a Plan B. Thanks

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 8th, 2021, 4:54 pm

Alright so I tried adding the cork to taper the thumb hole. I think that it helps prevent knuckling which is nice. However, not matter how much tape I add to the ball, I still feel like my thumb is falling out of the ball. When I lift the ball from the ground with my hand on top the ball slowly falls off of my thumb. I feel like I cannot hold onto the ball without squeezing it. If I relax my hand, the ball slowly falls off. My entire thumb cannot stay in the ball with a relaxed grip. My two questions are 1) is the ball supposed to stay on your hand if you pick it up with your hand on top? I cannot keep my hand in the ball even with a gentle practice swing; and 2) My thumb hole does have some reverse pitch. I don't know how much but maybe I would be better off with a thumb hole that is pitched forward? This is a frustrating process because I have had several pro shops drill my ball and the costs are starting to add up.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by 44boyd » April 8th, 2021, 8:40 pm

There’s gonna be a need for a little pressure at the base of your thumb and force the thumbnail against the back of the ball, the key is to relax on the down swing
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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 9th, 2021, 1:33 pm

TomaHawk wrote:
April 5th, 2021, 2:38 am
The fingers hold the ball (with the thumb in the ball) similar to a one hand / no thumb bowler. The thumb is simply there to guide the ball. Once the ball is in motion, gravity does most of the work.

Supporting the ball in the stance with the opposite hand helps a great deal. Try to put at least 50% of the weight of the ball in your non bowling hand. Doing so removes a lot of tension on the hand, thumb, and other muscle groups in the wrist and arm. Let the ball swing like it's a pail of water.
Any thoughts on my questions/experience listed above?

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 9th, 2021, 1:34 pm

44boyd wrote:
April 8th, 2021, 8:40 pm
There’s gonna be a need for a little pressure at the base of your thumb and force the thumbnail against the back of the ball, the key is to relax on the down swing
Right now, too much pressure is needed just to hold onto the ball. This is occurring even with many pieces of tape in the fro t and back.

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by kajmk » April 9th, 2021, 5:21 pm

Two cents -
I always tried to get the thumb hole as tight as I could without it forcing me to confess to all the unsolved crimes in the city.
These are temporary gambits
Forcing a bit of a paper napkin or tissue into the thumb hole with your thumb and working it in and out will temporarily force fluid out of your thumb.
Parker Bohn III shared this nugget to deal with tight thumb holes.
Rub a very tiny bit of Chapstick on the point of most resistance. I little goes a long way.
Conversely for a marginally loose hole, puff some breath in the thumb hole as you insert the thumb,
Mike Aulby did that before each shot.

Another bowling product -
Also, Ron Clifton's Magic Carpet tape is worth trying.
Check his Bowl4fun website
http://www.bowl4fun.com/magiccarpet/magiccarpet.htm

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by 44boyd » April 9th, 2021, 10:56 pm

jegreco516 wrote:
April 9th, 2021, 1:34 pm
Right now, too much pressure is needed just to hold onto the ball. This is occurring even with many pieces of tape in the fro t and back.
How is this if the ball slowly comes off your thumb with hand on top of ball?
Stacy

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Re: Grip Pressure, Tape, and Optimal Mechanics

Post by jegreco516 » April 9th, 2021, 10:59 pm

44boyd wrote:
April 9th, 2021, 10:56 pm
How is this if the ball slowly comes off your thumb with hand on top of ball?
I can add more tape to the top but it starts to feel uncomfortable on my hand. Almost like it’s changing my span which I thought was a myth but idk. I have an appointment to try more forward pitch which I’ve never done.

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