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Robert (Bob) Strickland, a bowler since 1958, and PBA member since 1978. In addition to coaching, Bob is the author of Perceptive Bowling and Bowling Steps to Success. Join us weekly as Bob shares his favorite bowling tips to improve your game.

This week's tip:  
Equipment: House Balls and House Shoes
by: Bob Strickland

When you become enthusiastic about bowling, you will want to increase the frequency of your bowling to more than a couple of times per month. When you do, you should seriously consider having your own BALL and SHOES.

Although the equipment provided for your use by the bowling establishment is adequate for the purpose intended, it is essential to own your own equipment if you want to become a better bowler. Even the best house ball will not fit as well as your own personally customized ball, so you should visit a good pro shop as soon as possible.

But, to get you started, bowling establishments provide balls and shoes for your use. Here are some ideas to help you use HOUSE EQUIPMENT more effectively until you can purchase your own equipment.


House balls come in weights which generally run from nine pounds to sixteen pounds. The HOLE DIAMETERS diameters increase with increasing total ball weight. The SPANS (the distance from the edge of the thumbhole to the edges of either fingerhole) are about the same for both middle and ring fingers.

Since the distance from your thumb to your middle finger is usually shorter than that from the thumb to the ring finger, a house ball will not fit both spans. Therefore, you should try to get one with the correct span for the middle finger. How do you FIT yourself?

Correct Thumbhole Size: Put your thumb in the thumbhole. The inner walls of the thumbhole should touch both sides of your thumb, but you should be able to turn your thumb freely in the hole.

Correct Middle Fingerhole Span: Next, leaving your thumb all the way in the thumbhole, spread your middle finger across the middle fingerhole; do not insert your fingers. The crease of your second finger joint (the one closest to the palm) should lie approximately 1/4" past the near edge (nearest the thumb) of the middle fingerhole. You will have to disregard the span for the ring finger.

Correct Fingerhole Sizes: Insert your middle and ring fingers into their holes. The holes should be large enough to allow your fingers to be inserted freely up to the second knuckles.

Correct Total Weight: Using both hands, one on top of the other, face up, hold your ball out in front of you -- a HOLDOUT TEST. Keep your elbows locked and your arms parallel with the floor. If you can hold your ball in this way for five seconds without shaking, it is light enough for you to control. If you cannot, it is too heavy and you should select another ball.

Rolling the Ball: If you roll a lightweight ball slowly, it may hook unpredictably. This is because there is a heavy spot or "weight block" in balls to compensate for the removal of ball material by drilling the holes. Often, a substantial amount of this weight block is left in the drilled ball. The best solution is to use another ball, but rolling the end-over-end so the ball will track near the label may curtail some of the hook.


House shoes are made with UNIVERSAL SOLES so left-handed and right-handed bowlers can use the same pairs. Since both soles are made of leather, this type of shoe does not allow development of good traction of your back foot during your slide. If you buy shoes, make sure that your sliding sole is made of leather and your swingside sole is made of rubber.

Make sure that they are not too short. This will be obvious when you rent the shoes at the control counter. But also make sure that they are not too long! Shoes that are too big allow your foot to slip around inside, making good balance more difficult.

For better balance, make sure your house shoes are clean on the bottoms. Take some Scotch-Brite and "rough up" the swingside sole and heel so you can get better traction. Take very fine sandpaper and clean the sliding sole and heel. Remove the black, shiny deposits, because these contain grit and make you stick. For safety's sake, get into the habit of checking the bottoms before each time you get up to bowl.

More Strickland Tips:
  Four-Step delivery overview
  Four-Step delivery overview - The First step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Second step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Third step
  Four-Step delivery overview - The Fourth step
  House balls and house shoes
  Targeting Aids: The dots and arrows
  Know where you are on the approach
  Starting off Right
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This week's tip brought to you by: Robert "Bob" Strickland

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