How to Hold a Bowling ball

Learning how to properly hold a bowling ball can be a small change that can really help you to get more strikes under your belt. The thing is though, if you’ve never been properly shown how to hold a bowling ball, the chances are that you’ve taught yourself.

While this is not necessarily a bad thing, there are definitely better ways to hold a bowling ball in order to switch up your game. 

The key thing to remember is that grip is important when holding a bowling ball. You probably learned how to bowl using a three fingered ball, but did you know there are actually two, four, five and even no finger holes?

All of these can have their own effects on your game. So, without further ado, here are some things you need to know about how to hold a bowling ball. 

The Importance of Grip

It’s actually pretty vital to consider how you grip your bowling ball. Ultimately, your grip will directly affect how well you control your ball speed, will help to regulate the release of your ball, helps you to keep having a consistent rev rate and it also helps to control the direction of your ball. Fed up of gutter balls? It may be worth changing up your grip!

Speaking of aim though, your grip affects it a lot, and your grip also helps to make your throws predictable so your throws are more consistent. A relaxed and stable grip plays a pretty large role in a bunch of different parts of your throw, so having an effective grip is going to be the main way that you boost your scores. 

Is Your Ball the Right Fit for You?

When you are holding your bowling ball, the grip should be comfortable above all else. There should be plenty of space in the holes to let your fingers enter and exit easily, whether you are holding the ball still or whether you are releasing it to take your shot.

If you have a bowling ball that has holes that are too tight, you could end up getting blisters, clauses, you could rip off your fingernails and you may even totally throw off your ball’s release.

The ultimate way of knowing whether your ball has the correct fit is to actually get the ball drilled at a professional bowling shot so your ball is made to fit your specific needs. Your entire ball could end up getting destroyed by an ill fitting grip, which ultimately means your performance won’t be up to scratch and your scores will be lower than they otherwise would have been.

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If you go to a professional shop and have an expert measure the layout of your hand so they can drill accordingly, there are fewer chances of your ball not being the right fit for you. 

How Many Holes Should be in a Bowling Ball?

A lot of your bowling actually relies on your grip, so how you grip the ball can change your game, as we’ve already mentioned. Different kinds of hole drill layouts can change the way that you throw your ball and as a result, the grip that you use.

2 Holes

With this kind of grip, the bowler inserts their ring and middle finger into the ball with the thumb sticking out. The majority of bowlers will use the two finger hold for particularly big hooks, and will as a result get better control over the ball’s spin.

3 Holes

This is the most common kind of drilling for finger holes. Usually it’s placed in an upside down triangle kind of formation. Your middle and ring fingers will go into the top two holes, and your pointer and pinky fingers will rest to the side on the surface of the ball.

The hole beneath is where your thumb goes, and this makes a grip that will allow you to grip and hold your ball using only three fingers. This grip can help the bowler to properly control the movement and the release of the ball, using all of the fingers together to turn and shift it.

4 Holes

Some bowlers prefer to upgrade to a 4 finger hole for a number of different reasons. The first reason is to get rid of some of the pressure on the fingers that you may get when using a 3 hole grip, which is especially important if the bowler struggles with arthritis. They may also opt for a 4 finger ball for a stronger grip to get more control.

Most bowlers will put their pinky into the ball with a 4 hole grip, but some bowlers have used their index finger. This doesn’t always work for all bowlers. 

5 Holes

As the title suggests, a bowling ball with 5 fingers is when every finger is inside of the ball. This means you get less pressure, weight is properly distributed and you can work on control.

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The key issue with this kind of hold is that you will need to have more fingers in the ball, so there are more things that you need to control when you release the ball.

No Holes

A bowling ball with no hole is when all of your fingers are outside of the ball. Instead, the ball fits into the palm of your hand. There is a lot of debate about these kinds of balls and whether they can be used in leagues, but as long as your palm covers the thumb hole area it’s fine.

Why Is There so Much Variation on the Types of Hole Drills?

Okay, so those are the main kinds of hole drills that there are for bowling balls. Of course, it is only natural to wonder at this point why there are so many different variations of hole amounts.

The 3 hole drill is certainly the most common grip, but changing the number of holes can also alter your grip, too. Certain people will use more holes in order to have extra support to their grip, while others will have more holes in order to change how they throw their ball. Evert hole configuration has its own advantages that bowlers need to weigh up. 

Grip Types

Conventional Grip

This is the most used grip and the one that you are the most likely to recognize. Mostly used by beginner and moderate bowlers, this kind of grip is used with the 3 hole ball drill and it’s simple to learn.

With this grip, your pointer and pinky finger remain flat against the surface of the ball, while your thumb goes into the bottom and your remaining two fingers go into the top two holes. If you’re working with a house ball this is the best kind of grip to use.

It’s ideal for bowlers that need a stable and secure grip, because it gives you lots of control. Unfortunately the rev rate tends to be lower with this grip, and hooking can be a little bit tricky. 

Fingertip Grip

If you’re a little bit more advanced in your bowling journey, you may wish to move on to the fingertip grip. This kind of grip will let you increase the number of revs of the ball and the hook that you create.

In order to pull off a fingertip grip, most bowlers will use a 3 hole drill but will place the fingers in different places. To execute this grip, put your thumb into the lower hole, and put your middle and ring finger into the ball only up to the first knuckle.

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This grip can be a bit harder to hold onto and will take some getting used to, but hooks will be a lot easier with them. 

Semi Finger Grip

If you’ve managed to become an expert at the conventional and fingertip grip, it could be time for you to give the semi-finger grip a try. This is a little more comfortable than the fingertip grip, but it doesn’t have the same control that the conventional grip has.

It’s a little similar to the fingertip grip - your thumb goes fully into the thumb hole, but your ring and middle finger need to be inserted to the point that lies between your second and first knuckle.

Sarge Easter Grip

This is not a particularly commonly used grip as far as leagues and tournaments are concerned. Essentially, this grip allows you to combine together the fingertip and conventional grip, and fingertip grip style holes are laid out for the thumb, whereas the index finger and the ring finger hole is drilled in a conventional style.

A lot of people find this more comfortable than the fingertip grip and it provides a lot of control. It also reduces tension on the fingers. It may take a little getting used to, though!


So those are the main kinds of ways how to hold a bowling ball. It’s important to make sure you have the right grip over your bowling ball to get the best possible scores and comfort while you play, ultimately having a more enjoyable game.

It can often help to play around with different styles to see what works for you, and what makes you most confident that you can even get to Strike Turkeys! 

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