How to Curve a Bowling Ball – Score Big with These Techniques

Curving a bowling ball, a skill that can dramatically enhance your game involves a blend of precise technique, understanding of equipment, and practice. To effectively curve a ball, one must master the intricacies of grip and release, choose the right ball with a focus on its weight, coverstock, and core design, and adopt a strategic approach and stance.

After years of experience, in this guide, I’ll give you actionable steps to help you learn and master these techniques, elevating your bowling experience to the next level.

Key Takeaways

    1. It’s essential to choose a bowling ball that matches your strength and style, focusing on aspects like weight, coverstock material (preferably reactive resin), and core design.
    2. Mastering the curve involves using a fingertip grip, where only the tips of your middle and ring fingers, along with the thumb, are inserted into the ball.
    3. A comfortable and balanced stance is vital, as well as a smooth and consistent approach.
    4. The release involves your thumb exiting the ball first, followed by your fingers to impart rotational force, similar to turning a doorknob. A firm wrist and straight arm during the follow-through are key for maintaining accuracy and controlling the curve.
    5.  Regular practice and consistency are necessary for mastering the curve.

First Things First – Choose the Right Ball!

How to Pick the Right Bowling Ball

Choosing the right bowling ball is a crucial step in mastering the curve and achieving the perfect score. Selecting the appropriate bowling ball is vital, as it significantly impacts your ability to control and curve it effectively.

Aspect Description Importance for Curving
Weight The ball’s weight should match the bowler’s strength and style. Heavier balls offer more power but require more control; lighter balls are easier to handle.
Coverstock The outer material of the ball, with reactive resin, is a preferred choice for curving. Reactive resin coverstocks provide a better grip on the lane, leading to a more pronounced curve.
Core Design The internal design of the ball affects balance and rotational inertia. A dynamic core enhances the potential for angular movement, essential for curving.

Grip and Release

Bowling Ball How to Curve It

The way you grip and release the ball is pivotal in curving. A conventional grip might not suffice for a significant curve. Instead, try a fingertip grip, where only the tips of your middle and ring fingers along with the thumb are inserted into the ball.

This grip allows for more wrist action and rotation upon release. It’s essential to adjust the grip pressure; too tight, and you’ll restrict the ball’s motion, too loose, and you’ll lose control.

Practice gripping it in a relaxed, yet firm manner to find the perfect balance. This finesse in grip will allow you to control the ball’s spin and direction more effectively.

The Stance and Approach

How to Have Right Stane in Bowling

Your stance and approach significantly influence the ball’s trajectory. Start with a comfortable and balanced stance. During your approach, focus on a smooth and consistent motion. The final two steps of your approach are crucial for generating the right angle and speed for the curve.

Ensure your feet are aligned with your target; a misaligned stance can lead to an inconsistent throw. As you approach, build momentum while maintaining control, as a rushed or slow approach can affect the ball’s trajectory. Remember, the goal is to create a fluid motion that naturally leads into your swing and release.

The Release and Follow-Through

As you release the ball, your thumb should exit first, followed by your fingers, which impart the rotational force. This motion is akin to turning a doorknob. The follow-through is equally important; ensure your arm continues its motion in the direction you intend the ball to travel.

Keep your wrist firm and your arm straight during the follow-through to maintain accuracy. Avoid jerking or stopping abruptly as it can negatively impact the ball’s path. A proper follow-through will not only aid in controlling the curve but also in reducing the risk of injury.

In contrast to the precise release required for curving a ball in ten-pin bowling, games like duckpin bowling, with their unique equipment and rules, offer a different but equally engaging challenge.

Advanced Techniques

Professional bowling lanes have oil patterns that affect how the ball moves. Familiarize yourself with these patterns as they can dictate your ball’s curve path. Each pattern has its unique characteristics; some may require a more pronounced curve, while others a subtle one.

Learning to read these patterns will significantly improve your decision-making on how to throw. Regularly playing on different lanes can help you adapt to various oil conditions. Keep in mind, that oil patterns can change over time during play, requiring ongoing adjustments.

Adjust Your Speed and Rotation

Experiment with different speeds and amounts of rotation. Sometimes, a slight adjustment in either can significantly affect the curve. Faster speeds can make the ball skid more before it starts to curve, while slower speeds can increase the curve. Adjusting the rotation, or the ‘rev rate,’ can affect how sharply the ball breaks into the pins.

A higher rev rate usually translates to a more pronounced hook. It’s a delicate balance, and finding the right combination of speed and rotation is key to mastering your curve.

Be Persistent!

Tips How to Curve Bowling Ball

Consistency is key. Regular practice helps in fine-tuning your technique and developing muscle memory. Each session is an opportunity to understand your style and how different techniques affect your throw. Record your practice sessions if possible; visual feedback can be incredibly insightful.

Don’t be afraid to make adjustments and experiment; sometimes, minor tweaks can lead to significant improvements. Remember, the goal is not just to curve the ball but to do so consistently and effectively under varying conditions.

Fun Fact: Did you know that in the world of professional bowling, some of the most impressive and memorable shots are those that feature a dramatic curve? One of the most astounding records in this realm was set by a professional bowler who managed to knock down a staggering 7-10 split (one of the hardest splits in bowling) by skillfully curving the ball to hit both pins, an achievement that requires exceptional control and precision in the curve of the ball. This feat is so rare and difficult that it’s often met with cheers and awe in professional bowling circles!


How long does it typically take to master curving a bowling ball?

This varies from person to person. It often depends on how frequently you practice, your natural skill level, and your ability to adapt and refine your technique. On average, with regular practice, a bowler might start to see improvement in their curve within a few months. However, mastering it to a consistent and high level can take a year or more.

Can I curve a bowling ball with a straight-ball approach?

While this is technically possible, the effect is usually minimal. The straight-ball approach generally lacks the necessary wrist action and finger rotation that are key to creating a significant curve. For an effective curve, adopting a hook-ball approach is advisable.

Are there specific exercises to improve my wrist strength for a better curve?

Yes, there are several exercises that can help improve wrist strength and flexibility, which are important for curving. Wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and wrist rotations with light weights can be very effective.

Additionally, using a grip strengthener can also help in building the necessary wrist and forearm strength.

Does the lane surface affect how a ball curves?

Absolutely. Different lane surfaces can have varying effects on how a ball curves. Typically, wooden lanes offer more friction and thus a more pronounced curve, while synthetic lanes might cause the ball to slide more, reducing the curve.

Adjusting your technique to the lane surface is a critical skill in bowling.

Is it better to have a personal bowling ball for practicing curves?

Having a personal bowling ball is highly beneficial for practicing curves. A ball fitted to your hand and suited to your playing style can significantly improve your ability to learn and execute curves consistently. It also ensures consistent weight and feel, which is important for developing muscle memory.

How do different drilling patterns affect the curve of a bowling ball?

The drilling pattern of a bowling ball, which determines how the finger holes are positioned, can greatly affect its curve. A layout designed for a stronger hook will position the core in a way that maximizes imbalance during rotation, enhancing the curve.

Conversely, a drilling pattern for a straighter trajectory will aim for a more balanced roll. It’s best to consult with a pro shop expert to find a drilling pattern that matches your desired curve style.


Mastering the curve in bowling is a rewarding challenge that combines skill, knowledge, and consistent practice. By focusing on the critical aspects of grip, ball selection, stance, lane conditions, and practice routines, you can develop a more effective curve that enhances your overall game.

With patience, persistence, and the insights from this guide, you’re well on your way to becoming a more skilled and confident bowler.