4 Reasons Why Bowlers Tape Their Fingers

Why do bowlers tape their fingers? Some may think that the tape is only for aesthetic purposes. However, they can make a huge difference in how you play your game. 

Bowlers use bowling tape to fit their fingers properly with the holes of a bowling ball. The tape prevents irritation and scratches that the friction between the ball and the skin may cause. Bowling tapes also make ball delivery consistent.

If you ever wonder if you should use bowling tape, this article will provide you with the purpose of this bowling tool. We will also discuss how to use the tape properly if you want to try it.

Why Do Bowlers Tape Their Fingers?

  • To fill up the gap between the ball’s holes and the bowler’s fingers
  • To prevent swelling
  • To avoid skin irritation and cracking
  • To help with consistent throws

Enter a bowling alley, and you’ll see players will probably cover their fingers with tape. If you are wondering what that tape is for, we’ve got the details:

To Fill The Gap Between The Ball’s Holes And The Bowler’s Fingers

The house balls in bowling alleys have holes that will only sometimes fit the bowler’s thumbs and fingers. It is why some bowlers prefer to bring their own bowling balls. But if you choose to use house balls, you must note that their holes are sometimes too large for your fingers. 

This is one reason why bowlers cover their thumbs and fingers with tape. The tape fills the gap between the fingers and the ball’s holes, preventing the players from releasing the ball prematurely. If your fingers can wiggle freely inside the holes of a bowling ball, it is a sign to cover your thumb and fingers with tape.

To Prevent Swelling

A bowler’s finger may swell or shrink during the game to adjust to the size of the ball’s holes and the temperature inside it. However, you will not have a consistent grip on the bowling balls if your fingers swell and shrink continuously throughout the session. It can affect your performance negatively, resulting in poor shots and missed targets.

Using finger tape creates an artificial swell so that your fingers do not have to adjust to the size of the bowling ball’s holes. It will help your fingers remain comfortable regardless of external factors that may change their size. 

You can apply several layers of tape to your thumb and fingers, depending on how snug you want the bowling ball’s holes to be. This way, your fingers will not experience finger swell while constantly making accurate shots.

To Avoid Skin Irritation And Cracking

After several shots, you will start feeling the friction between your fingers and the bowling ball. Constant friction can irritate your skin, resulting in painful blisters and cracks. The irritation can detract your focus and prevent you from fine-tuning your throws. The skin irritation that friction causes can ruin your entire game if not controlled.

Another reason bowlers cover their fingers with tape is to prevent the ball’s friction from directly scraping their skin. With tape to protect your fingers, you can focus on the game instead of enduring the pain of skin irritation caused by friction. The tape also reduces the pressure you apply on your skin when holding the ball, thus preventing pain after hours of playing.

To Help With Consistent Throws

You will only sometimes find the perfect house ball in a bowling alley. Some bowling balls may have tight holes, while others are loose. For this reason, every ball delivery you perform will have a different feel.

Unfortunately, the inconsistency in how bowling balls feel when you throw them can ruin your strategy. For instance, you may need to calculate your power in your throw because the balls have too tight holes.  

To prevent inconsistencies in your delivery, you can cover your fingers and thumb with tape. The tape will provide a consistent grip, even if the house balls’ holes are inconsistent. This consistency will boost your performance and increase your chance of scoring. 

In addition, you will no longer have to change your strategy or re-calculate the power of your throw. The reason is that the bowling tape prevents you from feeling the changes on the bowling balls you are using. (source)

What Do Bowlers Put On Their Hands?

  • Bowling tape
  • Wrist guards
  • Bowling grip sack
  • Bowling powder
  • Bowling gloves

Bowling is a challenging game to master. A slight difference in the ball or the condition of your hand can break your entire game. Fortunately, bowlers put different tools in their hands to prevent these changes. 

Bowling Tape

As mentioned, bowling tape is an adhesive fabric with which bowlers cover their thumbs and fingers. This tape is beneficial as it ensures the consistency of your throws.

There are different types of bowling tape:

  • protective tape
  • textured tape
  • Slick Tape

Protective tape ensures that you will not hurt your hand and fingers during the game. It prevents friction between your fingers and the ball from directly scratching your skin. If you have skin irritation or scrapes, you can use protective bowling tape to cover them. 

If you want to hold the ball better, you will benefit from using textured tape. It gives your hand more grip, preventing your fingers from sliding out the ball’s holes before you deliver it. This tape comes in different texture levels, depending on how much or how little grip you need. 

Finally, slick tape has a smooth texture, which is ideal if you want the bowling ball to slide off your hand easily. Slick bowling tape is a bit slippery, so your fingers can quickly let go of the ball once you throw it to the target. In addition, this type of tape can prevent a bad bowl.

Wrist Guards

Some bowlers, especially the beginner ones, need help keeping their wrists straight when throwing the ball. A wrist guard keeps a bowler’s hand straight when they strike the target, which results in accurate delivery. 

The tilting of a player’s hand during the release of a ball will result in a failed shot, so a wrist guard is essential. For this reason, a wrist guard is a vital tool every bowling enthusiast should know about and understand. (source)

Bowling Grip Sack

Changes in the moisture of your hand can make a huge difference in how you throw the ball. If your hand has too much moisture, it will become slippery, resulting in a bad bowl. Sweaty hands will also make it challenging to grip the bowling ball properly. 

A bowling grip sack reduces the moisture of your hand. This microfiber sack has a unique design that allows it to absorb as much moisture as possible. This way, you can keep your hand dry, ensuring a proper grip whenever you deliver the bowling ball.

Bowling Powder

Like a bowling grip sack, bowling powder absorbs the excess moisture on your hand. This way, you can grip the ball, accurately delivering it to the pocket.

You can use talcum powder if you do not have bowling powder. However, it would be best to observe how much talcum powder you apply to your hands, as too much can make them slippery. (source)

Bowling Gloves

Bowling gloves are essential for people who go bowling for hours. They support your hand by reducing the strain and pressure caused by throwing heavy bowling balls repeatedly. Bowling gloves also increase a player’s grip. So, bowlers do not have to worry about releasing the ball prematurely as they gain momentum. 

The market offers different types of bowling gloves. These gloves differ in fit, texture, and feel when worn. For this reason, finding the right glove that protects your hand and improves your grip may be a trial-and-error process. 

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Bowling Tape

Now that you know the benefits of using bowling tape, you are probably thinking of using it on your next game. However, purchasing the first tape that you find online could be better. 

Here are the factors to consider when choosing bowling tape:

Brand and Cost

Countless websites sell bowling tape. However, you can ensure the quality of your purchased item by buying from a brand specializing in bowling equipment. This way, you know that the bowling tape’s manufacturer knows the needs of every bowler and has created a product that answers these needs. 

Every bowling tape brand has different prices. Some are expensive, while others are budget-friendly. However, you can buy inexpensive bowling tape. But you need to make sure you are buying from a trusted brand to prevent sacrificing the quality of your bowling tape. 

If you have any issues where you get rashes from certain types of bandages or their adhesives, make sure you do a test first. Take a small piece of bowling tape and apply it to the back of your hand. Wait for at least an hour and see if you get any rash or irritation. If you do, the tape might be incorrect for your skin.


Your bowling tape will receive constant friction once you begin throwing the balls. For this reason, you need to choose a durable one that will not easily come off after a few throws. You can look for product reviews online to identify what bowling tapes are durable and which ones you need to avoid. 

Moreover, bowling tape comes in either a pack or in rolls. Regardless of what type you bought, it is ideal for covering your thumbs and fingers with several layers. It will guarantee that the tape will not easily come off. (source)

Pre-Cut Or Uncut?

Bowling tape either comes pre-cut or uncut. With pre-cut bowling tape, you must peel off the adhesive and apply it to your fingers. Pre-cut tape is usually ¾ to 1 inch wide, so they will generally fit any bowler. 

On the other hand, uncut bowling tape will come in rolls. This type of tape is ideal for customizing the tape size for covering your fingers. 

Finger Tape Alternatives

  • Thumb socks
  • Finger guards
  • Electrical tape
  • Medical tape
  • Bowling finger inserts

Using finger tape when bowling is a trial-and-error process. It may take a couple of uses before finding the suitable tape. But if you are having trouble using bowling tape or you think that it is not working for you, here are some alternatives that you can use:

Thumb Socks

Thumb socks are a fabric tool to cover your fingers individually. It is ideal if you want to use only one layer of bowling tape. Thumb socks are also easier to use since you simply need to insert your thumb and fingers.

Moreover, people may call this tool a thumb sock, but it also works for your other fingers. However, it is worth noting that this product costs more than finger tape. 

Finger Guards

Unlike thumb socks, finger guards come in different types. There are rubber glove-like finger guards that help increase your grip. There are also ones made of silicone, which is ideal if you want to make the release of the bowling ball easier. 

Like bowling tape, finger guards protect your thumb and fingers and prevent them from swelling. However, you cannot adjust a finger guard’s thickness, unlike finger tapes that you can layer to achieve your desired fit. The only advantage finger guards have is that they are reusable. 

Electrical Tape

Electrical tape is only an ideal alternative to slick bowling tape. It has no texture, so it will not help you increase your grip on the ball. Still, electrical tape can improve your ball release significantly. You can also use it if your fingers are too tiny for the holes of your bowling balls.

Finger and electrical tapes have a similar feel on the skin once you apply them. They also almost cost the same, so exchanging your finger tape with electrical tape will not strip off your pocket. 

Medical Tape

Medical tape is an excellent alternative to textured bowling tape. It is readily available in convenience stores and your local drugstores. Even better, it costs less than bowling finger tapes. 

Bowling Finger Inserts

Some people prefer to avoid covering their fingers with bowling tape. If you are one of these bowlers, you can opt to adjust the size of your bowling ball’s finger holes. However, this bowling hole alternative is only ideal if you bring your own ball during bowling sessions.

Bowling finger inserts are tools you insert inside a ball’s finger holes. This tool aims to reduce the size of the holes so that your fingers and thumb will fit in them snuggly. Depending on your desired grip adjustment, you can choose between textured and smooth bowling finger inserts. Unlike bowling tape you need to throw away after a bowling session, bowling finger inserts are highly reusable. (source)

Tape The Ball Holes Instead Of Your Fingers

If you think taping fingers when bowling is not for you, you can opt to tape the thumb hole of your bowling ball instead. Doing this will give you the same benefits as taping your fingers. For instance, if the bowling ball’s thumb hole is loose, putting several layers of tape inside the cavity will eliminate the excess room. This way, you will find the right fit before throwing the ball to the pin set.

If there are blisters on the webbing between your thumb and your pointing finger, you must put the tape directly on your thumb. This step will prevent unwanted rubbing whenever you release the ball.

Types Of Thumbhole Tape

Thumbhole tape comes in different sizes. If the ball’s thumb and finger holes are already small but you still need to tighten them, using the ½-inch tape is ideal. For young bowlers and people with small hands, there are thumbhole tapes that measure ¾ inches. 

Finally, bowlers whose hands are on the bigger side will benefit from thumbhole tapes with 1-inch measurements.

Furthermore, thumbhole tape comes in different textures that you can identify through their colors. 

  • White Thumbhole Tape – this is the most common type of thumbhole tape. This type of tape has a textured feel that is ideal for bowlers looking to improve their grip. 
  • Black Thumbhole Tape – smoother than the white tape. It is ideal for bowlers who need assistance releasing the bowling ball from their fingers. (source)

Summing Things Up

A poor fit between your fingers and the bowling ball’s holes is associated with a poor game. Fortunately, there is equipment that you can use to eliminate this issue. 

We hope this article answers the question, “why do bowlers tape their fingers?” Finger taping when bowling is crucial as it protects your skin, helps you improve your grip, and provide a consistent feel when releasing the bowling ball. If you are having trouble releasing the ball due to too much friction, a slick finger tape can solve your problem. 

Apart from finger tape, bowlers use other tools on their hands to improve their game. 

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