Two-Handed Bowling: The Pros, Cons, and Rules


Bowling techniques have evolved across many generations. One of the latest and most popular techniques in bowling is the two-handed approach. Although not many bowlers are fans of this approach, two-handed bowling is rapidly increasing in popularity and acceptance among bowlers. 

Two-handed bowling helps you have better control over the ball’s path and obtain more spin than the traditional bowling techniques. However, this technique can create torque on the spine and make it difficult for bowlers to play the lanes. 

While two-handed bowling is definitely not a walk in the park, you will be able to master it with the right training and practice. This article will explain in detail what exactly two-handed bowling is, its pros and cons, whether it is considered cheating, the rules, and the common mistakes two-handed bowlers make.  

What Is Two-Handed Bowling?

Just like the name, two-handed bowling refers to bowling with two hands. This technique involves the bowlers placing their dominant hand under the ball and the non-dominant hand on the top. They bring the ball behind their body and take the non-dominant hand from the ball just before the release.

One-handed bowlers pay special attention to where they place their hands on the ball, whereas two-handed bowlers figure out the spots and grips with which they are most comfortable. 

Unlike no-thumb bowling, two-handed bowlers use their second hand as their thumb. Consequently, they will have better control over the ball trajectory as the second hand provides lateral support to the ball. Moreover, the lateral support from the second hand will prevent hanging or dropping the ball. This is a major advantage of two-handed bowling.

The biggest differences between two-handed bowling and one-handed bowling are the posture and footwork. To accommodate a high evolution rate, two-handed bowlers have to move much quicker than other bowlers. Two-handed bowling demands an extremely flexible body, which is why not all bowlers can master this approach.

Contrary to what most people believe about two-handed bowling, this technique does not mean the bowlers use both hands to release the ball. Two hands are used to support the ball and have a tight grip on it. However, only one hand is used to release the ball down the lane.

Young bowlers who want to gain more power in their stroke often choose the two-handed bowling approach over other techniques. 

Is Two-Handed Bowling Better?

Two-handed bowling sure has its advantages. Using this technique, bowlers can obtain more spin, play different angles, and have more control over the ball. They also love this technique due to the increased ball speed and the ball trajectory. However, all players will not be able to master the technique. This is because a two-handed bowler has to be very athletic and have great flexibility.

Two-handed bowling is a controversial topic, so most bowlers will not agree that it is better than other traditional approaches. 

A common misunderstanding of two-handed bowling is that people believe this technique requires a player to use both hands to release the ball. The truth is, two-handed bowling is not about releasing the ball with two hands. Players use both their hands to support the ball and release the ball only using one hand. 

Since this approach is difficult to master, experts say that one-handed bowling will always be the most widely used bowling technique. However, those bowlers who can grasp the Two-handed bowling technique will have a few advantages in certain aspects of the game. 

Pros and Cons of Two-Handed Bowling

Like any other bowling approach, the two-handed bowling technique also has its advantages and disadvantages. When the method was introduced in this sport, people considered it to be cheating as two-handed bowlers performed better than other bowlers. 

To address the hatred towards two-handed bowlers, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) made it clear that there are no rules violations of using the two-handed technique. Read on to find out the different pros and cons you can expect if you master this bowling approach.

Pros of Two-Handed Bowling

  • More spin. Compared to the traditional bowling approaches, two-handed bowlers report that they can obtain more spin due to the high speed and revolution rate.
  • Play different angles. In the two-handed approach, the rev-rate tends to match the ball speed. Using two hands will result in the rev-rate dominating the ball speed. This results in high ball speed and rev-rate, which allows you to play different angles. 
  • Bowl longer. Two-handed bowling allows you to bowl longer as the ball weight is balanced by both hands, instead of just one hand or one shoulder.
  • More control over the ball’s path. In the Two-handed bowling approach, the second hand is used as the thumb, which supports the ball and provides lateral support. This will prevent the ball from dropping, and the bowler will have more control over the ball’s path.
  • More power. Two-handed bowling also allows the player to release the ball with more power. This approach also helps to pocket shots consistently. 

Cons of Two-Handed Bowling

  • Spare shooting. As two-handed bowling has a higher rev-rate than other bowling approaches, beginners will take some time to learn spare shooting. If you are not able to throw two-handed at spares, it can be hard to play the lanes using this approach.
  • Has to be flexible. Bowlers who want to master two-handed bowling have to be very athletic and flexible. This is because of the increase in revs and the high speed at which you need to move your body.
  • No free swing. Since two-handed bowling does not have free swings, the accuracy of the ball’s release is compromised. However, if you have a flexible body and can master the technique to deal with high rev-rate, this will not be a problem.
  • Torque on the body. Two-handed players usually lean forward and rotate the body before releasing the ball down the lane. This can put a lot of torque through the spine, especially on the lumbar vertebrae. If the impact is more than the spine can handle, the lumbar spine muscles can get affected.

Can You Bowl With Two Hands?

While two-handed bowling refers to bowling with two hands, it does not mean these bowlers use both hands to release the ball down the lane. Two-handed bowlers place their non-dominant hand on top of the ball and the dominant one under the ball. After this, they bring the ball behind their body, more to the lateral side, and take the non-dominant hand off the ball just before the release.

When the two-handed bowling technique started growing in popularity in this sport, it became a controversial approach. Many people claimed that this approach is cheating and illegal. However, bowling’s national governing body, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), confirmed that using this technique is no violation of the law.

The two-handed delivery is very different from other bowling techniques. Two-handed bowlers reported that they find the two-handed technique easier to obtain more spin. 

Two-handed bowlers are reminding their haters that there were no particular techniques when bowling was first invented. For instance, bowlers used to palm the ball when there were no holes in it. Every sport is evolving, and bowling is one among them. Moreover, one should not overlook the commendable advantages of the two-handed bowling approach.

Two-handed bowling is not going to replace the most widely used one-handed bowling approach. However, this technique will stick around forever, simply because the two-handed bowlers undoubtedly have a few advantages in certain aspects of the game. 

Bowling Basics

Bowling is a straightforward activity enjoyed by people of all ages. It is both an excellent recreational activity and a professional sport. Like any other sport, a game of bowling requires bowlers to understand and follow its requirements, rules, and regulations prior to playing the game.

Bowling requires an appropriate playing surface and the necessary equipment. Additionally, you should also have strong notions of bowling etiquette, rules, and scoring.

Playing Surface and Equipment

A bowling alley or bowling arena typically has many hardwood or urethane lanes, each measuring 60 feet long and 42 inches wide. The bowling pins are kept at the far end of the lane, whereas the foul line is at the near end. 

The wood area where you stand where you are ready to bowl is called the approach. The distance between the beginning of the approach and the foul line is approximately 15 feet. 

There are gutters on either side of the lanes. The bowlers should avoid the gutter to avoid fowl and get more control over the ball trajectory. A gutter ball is a ball that misses the lane and falls into a gutter. This ball will surely miss the pins and is considered out of play. 

A total of ten bowling pins, typically made of maple wood, are set up at the far end of the lane. The pins are set up in four rows, with the single headpin at the front, followed by two other pins behind it. Each row has one pin more than the previous row.

The weight of the bowling ball varies between 10 and 16 pounds. Lighter balls are used in the bowling games for children. All bowling balls will usually have three pre-drilled holes for the middle fingers and the thumb. In two-handed bowling, the second hand is used as the thumb to provide lateral support to the ball.

It is advised to wear bowling shoes that are specially designed for bowling alleys. Typically, shoes with soles made of hard leather or vinyl are best to prevent damage to the lanes.

Bowling Etiquette

It is essential that all bowlers be familiar with the rules of bowling etiquette. When you are playing in a bowling arena, making the people around you feel comfortable is necessary. Read on to understand the formal manners and rules every bowler has to follow in a bowling alley.

  • Do not loft or kick the bowling ball. This is to prevent injury to yourself and the people in the bowling room. Hitting the ball hard on the floor can even damage the lanes.
  • Release the ball only when the sweep bar on the automatic pinsetter lifts. Releasing the ball at the wrong time can damage the equipment.
  • Do not stand on the approach if it is not your turn. Approach refers to the wood area where bowlers stand when they are ready to bowl. Wait till the bowler to your side has completed their turn. 
  • Once your turn is over, go back to the area behind the approach. Do not stand on the approach after your turn is over, as someone else might be waiting to bowl. 
  • Do not mock others. All bowlers practice and work hard to achieve different bowling skills. Therefore, do not tease other bowlers even if their performance is poor. You learn as you practice.

Rules and Scoring

A bowling game consists of ten frames. Every bowler can roll the ball two times in a single frame. A bowler tries his best to knock down all the pine using the two trials. Typically, an average of three games is played. 

The scoring in a bowling game is centered around three terms: strike, spare, and an open frame. 

  • A strike is when the bowler knocks down all the ten pins with the first roll itself. A strike earns ten points plus the sum of points in the next two shots.
  • A spare is when the bowler knocks down all the remaining pins left over after the first roll. A spare earns 10 points plus the points in the next one-shot.
  • An open frame is when the bowler does not knock down all the pins during the frame. The points in an open frame depend on the number of pins that are knocked down. The points vary from 0 to 9 for an open frame.

Common Mistakes of New Two-Handed Bowlers

Many bowlers are switching to two-handed bowling due to the additional benefits this ball delivery can bring about. But there are a few bowling mistakes that are commonly seen in new two-handed bowlers.

  • Swing timing: While one-handed bowling requires a pendulum swing, two-handed bowling does not. But one-handers tend to use the same swing even while switching to two-handed bowling. A pendulum swing in two-handed bowling will result in poor ball delivery timing and over-rotation of the body. 
  • Swing direction: Swing direction is critical in two-handed bowling. For successful ball delivery, two-handed bowlers should keep their elbow in line with the arm swing. However, new two-handed bowlers swing in a direction that is too far from the body. This will result in a sidearm delivery, which affects the bowler’s control over the ball and its trajectory.
  • Swing distance: When releasing the ball, two-handed bowlers should take their non-dominant hand off the ball and extend their arms during the apex of the swing. While holding the ball right before release, make sure that the ball should not be above the armpit. New two-handed bowlers get the swing distance wrong, which results in a very short swing and a decrease in the ball speed.
  • Body position: Body position is crucial to a clean ball delivery. The ball-side shoulder and hip should be below and lower than the shoulder and hip on the other side. Keep the ball close to the body but not above the armpit. If your upper body is too upright during a backswing, it will affect the swing direction and trajectory. New two-handers take a while to master the correct body position for a two-handed delivery.

FAQ

  • Is two-handed bowling better? Two-handed bowlers have a few advantages in certain aspects of the game. But this does not mean that it is better than other bowling techniques. What makes two-handed bowling popular among bowlers is that it helps you obtain more spin and control over the ball and its trajectory. Moreover, two-handed bowling lets you play different angles due to the high speed and rev-rate.
  • Is bowling with two hands cheating? Two-handed bowling is a controversial technique as not many people support this approach. But bowling with two hands is not cheating. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC), bowling’s national governing body, confirmed that no rules are violated using the two-handed bowling technique. 
  • Why do pro bowlers use two hands? Pro bowlers often switch to two-handed bowling because this approach has more power and control than the other bowling techniques. However, the two-handed bowling approach is difficult to master. Only those bowlers who are very athletic and flexible can excel at two-handed bowling. 

Conclusion

More bowlers are switching to the two-handed style because of the additional advantage it brings in certain aspects of the game. However, you need to be very athletic and flexible to master the two-handed bowling technique. This video talks about how you can master the two-handed bowling approach and create more power in your bowling game:

This video on how to bowl with a two-handed style will give you a better idea of this bowling approach:

Sources

T Conner

My grandfather and my mother both taught me bowling in the early 1970’s. I spent the next few decades working my way up to the top tiers of local amateur bowling leagues, and continued to participate in college at the club level. My wife and bowled in coed leagues before kids, and then taught our kids bowling as they grew up. Now I’m here to answer some of the web’s common questions about bowling rules, techniques, equipment and more.

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