Bowling Styles and Techniques

Bowling release

Bowling Styles

Bowlers often have their own similar to the techniques of bowling shown above, but these styles more pertain to the specific styles each bowler employs.

  • Crankers
  • Power strokers
  • Spinners
  • Strokers
  • Tweeners

Bowling Techniques

bowling holds

There are three different ways in which a bowler can hold the ball: relaxed, firm and strong. These ways will adjust how the ball rolls down the lane.

  • Relaxed
  • Firm
  • Strong

A relaxed hold on the ball will create a straight path for the ball, but will not create much hook or revolutions on the ball.

A firm hold will generate a little more hook as well as more revolutions of the ball.

A strong hold will be the most sufficient hold of the ball because it will create the most hook and the most revolutions of the ball. The firm holds and strong holds will also heavily depend on the strength of a bowler's wrists.


Crankers rely on high power and speed in their throws. This is often through a cupped wrist and a medium-to-high arm swing. Right-handed bowlers stand on the far left since their throws are powerful enough to require the opposite side. For left-handed bowlers, it's the opposite. This causes a higher number of ball revolutions before impacting the pins.

The amount of power and speed typically amounts to higher risk when playing. The risks could mean a higher probability in extreme splits among the pins. However, the high amount of revolutions are what matter most to these players.

Crankers are known for putting a lot of power on the ball. They focus on putting as many revolutions as possible on the ball. It is considered a quick release with the aim to knock down the pins hard and fast. The downside of a cranker is that a cranker is more prone to having the ball split when rolling down the lane.

Power Strokers

Power strokers are the best of both worlds. They provide both the spin of a stroker and the power of the cranker. It is a popular style because the motion of the ball makes it favorable for bowlers to consistently score strikes.


Spinners (aka helicopter style) are known for having good accuracy on their ball. They are known for focusing on spin of the ball rather than speed and power. Many bowlers will use the spin delivery when certain lane conditions are favorable for this style. Spinners will also tend to use a lighter ball to increase more vertical spin on the ball.


This is considered the most classic form in bowling. This involves standing on the right side of the lane to follow a straighter line on the lane. The ball is released in the middle of the lane.

These types of bowlers do not rely on speed or power, but simply on accuracy, to score points. When aiming the ball, they have a medium arm swing and square shoulders to have the most accurate aim. This typically causes a lower amount of ball revolutions since speed is not a priority for stroker bowlers.

Strokers are known for putting a lot of spin on the ball. This style focuses more on having a consistently angled delivery rather than a delivery with only power and speed. There is also a large focus on the wrists when using this style, even some recommend wearing wrist tape if using this style.


This is considered a mix between a Cranker and a Stroker style bowler. They display mixed traits between the two.

For example, a bowler can have more ball revolutions but a lower arm swing, which means less speed. Or, they can have a higher arm swing but fewer ball revolutions. This will depend on the player and what kind of stroke they aim for.

Tweeners are in between a cranker and a stroker. Tweeners are known for having both attributes of crankers and strokers in that they may have a higher backswing than a stroker but not as high as a cranker. Tweeners have a higher consistency of hitting their targets than other delivery styles.

Spin Techniques

Bowling Ball

There are three techniques for putting spin on your ball when bowling. They include straight bowling, hook bowling and backup bowling. We will discuss the differences between all three techniques from easiest to hardest.

Bowlers have different types of techniques when it comes to getting spin on a ball. In general, the easiest way to generate spin on a bowling ball is by putting your middle finger and ring finger in the top two holes and leaving your thumb out of the bottom hole. While your fingers are in the holes, hold the ball on your wrist and release your top two fingers off the ball so that your fingers graze the side of the ball as you are bowling.

Hook Bowling

Hook bowling is used by more advanced bowlers and in turn, will score more points. In hook bowling, the ball will curve from left to right for left-handed bowlers and right to left for right-handed bowlers. Because of the curve on the ball, the ball will knock more pins into each other, giving you a better chance at scoring a strike.

What hand a bowler uses is important. If a player is left-handed, the ball should begin on the left side of the lane before moving towards the right to hit the one and two pocket. If a player is right-handed, the ball begins on the right side of the lane before hooking to hit the one and three pocket.

This takes more skill on behalf of the players. When throwing a hook, a bowler must rotate the fingers on the side of the bowl during the ball's release. This ensures better control over movement and a better hook shot.

A more exaggerated version of the hook shot is called a curveball. However, these types of shots are more prone to error and are not typically used.

Reverse Hook Bowling

Backup bowling is similar to hook bowling. In backup bowling, the ball will curve right to left for left-handed bowlers and left to right for right-handed bowlers. Most bowlers are not able to reverse hook bowl because of the unnatural motion that a bowler's wrist must make in order to make the ball curve towards a bowler's dominant hand. This technique does not give a bowler any significant advantages over hook bowling and straight bowling.

This is a bowling technique that is often discouraged. The movement is often forced and difficult to control. But some players do feel comfortable with throwing a backup ball over a hook ball.

Straight Bowling

Straight bowling is the most basic of the three styles. When straight bowling, the ball will roll in a straight line to the pins without much curve. The downside to straight bowling is that the ball will only hit the pins straight on without much movement from pins, which means they may not knock down other pins. The best use for straight bowling is when a bowler is trying to score a spare.

Straight Bowling is recommended for picking up spares. However, this technique can lead to splits for bowlers, which is harder to gain the maximum amount of points. Over the long-run, this technique is not sustainable for hitting strikes.