Equipment for Bowlers Explained

By: Jimmy Cox

Although it isn't necessary to own your own equipment in order to enjoy bowling, I strongly recommend that you do. All bowling centers have "house balls" available for use at no charge to customers, and your local bowling center will rent bowling shoes.

But you'll find your scores mount when you have equipment fitted to your individual specifications. When you buy a ball your bowling proprietor or his pro shop will drill it for you at no charge. If you're really serious about bowling, you should buy your own ball and have it drilled for your own physical make-up. It's like buying a tailor-made suit. It will fit you perfectly; it's yours alone.

Today bowling balls come in almost all colors and weights. There was a time when almost all balls were black, and their weights were always sixteen pounds or very close to it. Now that women have taken up the sport however, bowling balls come in almost every hue; and the weights range from ten pounds to sixteen, though never more than sixteen. Black models retail for about $25; other colors and mottled balls are slightly more than that.

Bowling balls are made of hard rubber. The lighter weight balls contain a cork center, and cost about the same as the sixteen pounders.

Here's a good test to determine whether the thumb hole fits properly: place your thumb in the ball and turn your hand back and forth, clockwise and counter-clockwise. If you feel just the slightest bit of friction, the thumb fit is a good one. The thumb shouldn't stick at all; it should be a bit on the loose side.

The finger holes of a well-fitted ball will be neither too tight nor too loose.

The span - the distance between the finger holes and the thumb holes - can be determined in this manner: insert your thumb fully into the thumb hole and then extend the two middle fingers over the finger holes. The second, or middle, crease of these fingers should be directly over the finger holes if the ball's span is a proper one for you.

You can also test the span by fully inserting the thumb and the fingers. If the second or middle crease of the finger extends beyond one-half of the ball, the span is too narrow. Conversely, if the second crease does not reach the inner edge of the hole, the span is too wide. Remember, an ill-fitting bowling ball will feel twice its weight.

I really think one of the fascinating aspects of bowling is that so many decisions in the sport are left up to the individual. An instructor shouldn't prescribe what weight ball you ought to use unless he's had many opportunities to see you in action.

Almost all bowling balls today are of the three-fingered variety, although at one time two-fingered balls were the only kind used. Nowadays the two-fingered style is something of a rarity, although a couple of the leading pros still use them. Ed Lubanski of Detroit won the 1958 World's Championship with a two-finger grip. But generally it's felt that the three-finger style is easier to hold; it's more comfortable and it's controlled a lot more easily.

I recommend that you own your own bowling shoes too. They range in price from $7.50 to $10, or even $20 for a really elegant pair. Bowling shoes are of a special variety.

The sole of the right shoe is rubber, to help you to brake or slow down as you approach the foul line; it also gives you the necessary traction as you start. The sole of the left shoe is leather, allowing that foot to slide on the fourth or final step.

You'll also need a bowling bag to carry your equipment in, and these range in price from $7 to $40 or $50. You can purchase a small bag, for carrying the shoes alone, for about $2.50.

Any good comfortable sport shirt is fine for bowling. Just be certain it gives you full freedom of movement and that it doesn't hamper your arm-swing at all.

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