Back in the Middle Ages, being left-handed was considered awfully unlucky. Time reports that left-handed people were often associated with witchcraft!
Fortunately, we’ve moved past that, especially in the realm of bowling. For example, it’s commonly held that left-handed bowlers have an advantage over right-handed ones.
According to a close friend of mine, this is because the oil patterns on the left side of a lane are used less – therefore, the ball is more likely to react consistently throughout the game. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but it just goes to show you that being a lefty should not be considered “unlucky.”
Today I am going to give you some more information on left-handed bowlers in the sport in addition to some tips on how to improve your game as a left-handed bowler!
Do Left-Handed Bowlers Have an Advantage Over Right-Handed Ones?
I am sure the burning question you have as a left-handed bowler is: does being left-handed actually give me an advantage in bowling? Gabe D’Angelo at The Herald newspaper in Pennsylvania writes that approximately 13% of bowlers are left-handed and a decent percentage of the top bowlers are left-handed (the given amount in 2010 was about 20%, but that number is likely to have changed by now). So it might be tempting to say that left-handed bowlers have an advantage.
Ultimately, however, D’Angelo concludes that not enough scientific evidence has been gathered to either confirm or refute this common bowling theory. But further testing could yield some solid proof to argue this claim either way.
What are Some of the Difficulties Left-Handed Bowlers Encounter?
One might say that left-handed bowlers experience similar difficulties that right-handed bowlers do. But lefties may also encounter other difficulties as a result of being left-handed. For instance, house balls are typically made for right-handed bowlers. Lefties might have difficulty holding the balls or putting their fingers in the drilled holes. This is why buying a ball and having it drilled to your specifications is better than relying on house balls.
Additionally, the sport of bowling is simply not always well-equipped to handle left-handed bowlers. Even something as simple as bowling shoes can alter how a right-handed and left-handed bowlers perform. House bowling shoes have soles for sliding and none for traction, something that is important for expert and professional bowlers. The difference between house bowling shoes and customized shoes and the advantages of using customized shoes.
Shoes specifically made for left-handed and right-handed bowlers have one sole each dedicated to sliding and traction, albeit on opposite sides. For instance, shoes customized for lefties use the right shoe for traction and the left shoe for sliding. One key tip for left-handed bowlers is to, if possible, purchase your own shoes. These will help you in the long run.
Believe it or not, even the left-handed advantage axiom could be considered a difficulty. Historically, left-handedness became negatively equated with evil and other weaknesses. It’s possible that some left-handed bowlers may feel like they’re at a disadvantage because the sport is geared towards the right-handed majority. Keep in mind, though, that statistically-speaking, left-handed athletes may have an advantage – a large number of top bowlers are left-handed.
In general, although left-handed bowlers may face some difficulties, there certainly exist ways to overcome them. Some of it is physical, some of it is mental.
Tips for Left-Handed Bowlers
In this section, I’ll give you some tips to improve your game as a left-handed bowler. Please keep in mind, however, that general tips for bowlers can apply to both lefties and righties, especially if you are bowling on lanes under standard conditions.
Getting more hook into your shot
According to PBA and USBC Hall of Famer, Johnny Petraglia, you should keep the palm of your bowling hand to the right wall of the center “at the completion of your follow through WITH your thumb remaining pointing upward toward twelve o’ clock, you will gain additional hook on your bowling ball.” Hook is needed to power your way to a strike, and getting as much hook as possible will help you nail shot after shot.
Pay attention to right-handed bowlers during tournaments
Petraglia also mentions that lefties should pay close attention to righties during tournaments, especially if they are changing lanes game after game. In an interview with BowlingBall.com, he said that if a right-handed bowler throws the first shot, and it does not quite meet the pocket, the increased amount of oil in the center of the lane possibly changes the skid distance when trying to shoot right-side spares. Conversely, the opposite would be true if the bowler throws a sharper hook with their first shot after changing lanes.
One key tip is to focus, whether you’re in a bowling league or in a tournament. Don’t worry too much about what’s happening in the future with your game – try to focus on the moment to ensure you are able to do your best to hit the target. Keep your moves slow and deliberate.
Find a ball specifically suited for your hand
Balls for left-handed bowlers differ than right-handed bowlers in two ways: the spacing of the thumb and finger holes and their location on the ball; and the ball’s center weight. Purchasing a ball suited for left-handed bowlers increases the chance you’ll successfully complete bowling maneuvers.
Practice with balls made for left-handed people
I can’t stress enough the importance of bowling with a left-handed ball. If you’re new to bowling, it’s helpful to practice whenever you can. Alley house balls typically conform to right-handed bowlers. Some alleys do carry balls for lefties – you can always ask if they have one available so you can practice. Bowling with balls suited for right-handed bowlers may be uncomfortable and not help you bowl your best game.
Maintain good form
Assuming the correct position for bowling is key to delivering consistent powerful, precise throws. Maintain a flexible, comfortable, and balanced stance with your feet slightly apart. Keep your head up and looking forward to your target. Hold the ball at about waist height, and make sure your ball is held out to the left side of your body since you’re a left-handed bowler. Your movements should flow smoothly like a pendulum.
Left-handedness used to be perceived as evil, wrong, sinister. Nowadays, it seems that the tide has turned, at least in bowling. Left-handed bowlers are sometimes seen as having an advantage over right-handed ones. Although it is true that a large number of top bowlers are left-handed, whether or not that’s due to their left-handedness is up for debate. This is not to say that the axiom is false; it just means that there is more to a talented bowler than which hand they bowl with. Rather, being an effective, consistent, successful bowler requires practice, good form, the right equipment, focus, and other facets that one cannot take for granted. Of course there arise differences between right-handed and left-handed bowlers, but this does not mean a true disparity in talent.
In this article, I have presented you with some difficulties left-handed bowlers may face. Additionally, I gave you some tips and tricks to consider to help improve your game. I hope these tips help you learn to bowl and start to improve and perfect your performance. As I have emphasized in previous articles, it takes time, patience, and practice to excel at bowling. There is no perfect formula to be a pro bowler. But by keeping in mind the tips I provided today, I have no doubt that in time you will come to hit your targets and become nothing short of amazing!
Next Steps and Where to Purchase Equipment
When you’re ready to make the leap, you can read these articles to learn what bowling equipment we recommend for every different kind of player and choose what suits you better. We try to review the best bowling equipment in the market every few weeks to keep up-to-date with the current trends.