Bowling's Helping Hand

    03/24/09

    USBC Coaching

    By Bryan O'Keefe and Rod Ross, USBC Coaching

    Over the last handful of years, players like Jason Belmonte, Osku Palermaa, and Cassidy Schaub have opened the eyes of many with the incredible combination of speed and revolutions they impart on a bowling ball.

    Their use of a two handed armswing allows for maximum power at release and consequently has both children and adults alike experimenting with the two handed game.

    All of this added attention has given both supporters and naysayers a reason to voice their opinion on this unique style of bowling. However, both sides would agree that with the increasing number of two handed bowlers, coaches and ball drillers must be equipped with enough knowledge to assist this type of player if their services are ever called upon.

    Quite arguably the biggest myth still surrounding the two handed game is the belief that the opposite hand helps generate their incredible revolutions at release. With the help of USBC Ambassador Jason Belmonte and through extensive video analysis, this theory has been proven to be false.

     

     



    Opposite hand well off the ball before release

     

     

    While the opposite hand allows the wrist to stay in an extremely strong position throughout the swing, it is well off the ball by the time the athlete's ball side hand exits at their release point. This strong wrist position enables the best two handed athletes to impart roughly 20% more revolutions than high rev PBA players such as Tommy Jones and Jason Couch.

    Due to this elevated rev rate, the two handed player must increase their overall ball speed in order to balance consistent ball reaction. This "need for speed," forces athletes to adapt to unconventional physical game methods and can challenge the traditional coaching formulas.

    We at USBC Coaching have pinpointed key issues regarding the differences between coaching the two handed and traditional game athletes and understand the importance for coaches to be aware that there are a few distinct physical game differences.

    • Posture in Approach – Once the ball is pushed away and dropped into the swing, a two handed athlete's upper body will follow the ball and become extremely bent over at the waist. The reason for this includes the inability to generate a backswing without the help of the upper body, due to the flexibility limitations that come with keeping the opposite hand on the ball throughout the swing. This enables the player to increase the height of the backswing and ultimately helps generate ball speed through swing momentum.

     

     



    Bent posture allows for increased backswing height

     

     



    Posture angle continues to increase throughout approach



    • Opposite Hand Position in Setup - This hand should be placed slightly above and in line with the "ball hand" fingers, on the top half of the ball during the setup. This position is crucial because this hand will never move throughout the approach and also allows the bowling hand and wrist to stay behind the ball and cupped during the approach and at release.

    • Armswing – The two handed armswing involves much more muscle than the traditional counterpart. Due to flexibility issues, most two handed athletes will have to "pick up" the ball as it passes their body in the second or third step (5 step approach) in order to keep the opposite hand on the ball.

     

     



    Notice the "picking up" motion of the swing

     

     

    This will not only create more muscle throughout the swing, but will force the ball side elbow to be bent throughout the backswing. As the athlete begins the downswing, the ball side elbow will start to straighten due to gravity and increased velocity.

     

     



    Gravity and momentum starts to straighten elbow

     

     



    Elbow straightened as opposite hand releases

     

     

    • Tempo – The overall tempo of a two handed athlete will be more aggressive than most traditional players. The two handed player must generate more speed to the foul line in order to transfer that momentum into the shot itself. This quicker tempo will help the player achieve the necessary ball speed to "match up" with their high rev rate.

    • Finish Position – The biggest difference regarding the finish position involves the trail leg and more specifically, the trailing knee. The extremely bent over posture mentioned before, makes keeping the trail leg on the ground almost impossible. The height of the trailing knee in the finish position should fall somewhere between the sliding knee and the torso in order to stabilize the upper body and lead to an increased ability to stay in a balanced position.

     

     



    Notice Jason's trailing knee in his finish position

     

     

    Stay tuned for more articles regarding two handed physical game differences as well as ball drilling specifications and layout suggestions.