Tips to How to Throw a Curve Ball in Bowling

Portrait of a young man playing bowling at a bowling alley

Beginning bowlers typically throw the ball straight down the alley, with no curve. Advanced bowlers, however, throw the ball with a curve, commonly referred to in the sport as a “hook.” A hook offers a better opportunity to throw strikes. A ball that curves into the pocket, for example, has a greater chance of powering through and knocking over the 5-pin in the middle of the third row, and will also generate more mixing action among the pins you hit. A right-handed bowler must impart counterclockwise spin on the ball to create a hook.

Use your normal grip and motion, but make sure your hand is in the proper position at the bottom of your swing, just before the release point. For example, if a right-handed player stops his swing at the bottom of his motion and looks down at the ball, his thumb should be in about the 10 o’clock position to throw a standard hook. Setting up counterclockwise to this position -- for example, if the thumb were in the 11 o'clock position -- would create a bigger curve.

Release your thumb from the ball before the other two fingers as your arm swings forward.

Focus on a straight follow-through after your thumb leaves the ball. Instead of trying to twist your wrist to create a hook, simply follow through directly at your target, bringing your hand perpendicular to the ground, as if you were going to shake someone’s hand. Your arm motion will naturally impart counterclockwise spin that will cause the ball to curve to your left.


All else being equal, the harder you throw the ball, the less it will curve.

Wearing a wrist support will help a novice bowler keep his wrist firm at the point of release, which should generate increased spin.

Beginners should use a conventional grip in which your fingers slide inside the holes up to the second joints. To increase the ball’s spin and generate a bigger hook, however, try the “fingertip” grip, in which you insert your fingers up to the first joints.

As you develop a consistent hook, begin aiming the ball at one of the alley’s arrows, rather than at a spot among the pins. Right-handed bowlers should begin by aiming at the second arrow from the right. Adjust your target as necessary, depending on how far your ball hooks.