The Most Overlooked Weapon in Your Arsenal

Category: Coaching 3
Published on Monday, 07 October 2013 04:03
Written by Marshall Whitehead II, Former Vice President of Track
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 Marshall Whitehead II is President of Bowled Solutions® Corporation, former Vice President of Track, Inc. and is a former Regional PBA player.  Marshall has also bowled competitively overseas, has coached at the High School level, and is a private bowling instructor.


 It’s been a long, grinding, 12-game stepladder tournament on a very tough pattern.  You’re tired, both mentally and physically, but you’ve made it to the title match.  Your opponent just opened the door in the 10th.  Suddenly, you have the opportunity to close the match with three in the hole to win by a single pin.  You step up on the approach and bury the first two.  Now, all eyes are fixed on you.  What will you do on your last shot?


In the sport of competitive bowling, many variables influence score.  If you were asked, “What’s the most important factor or ‘weapon’ in your arsenal that leads to bowling well on a consistent basis?” how would you respond?  Having a thorough understanding of lane play?  Having a solid mental game?  Having the right ball arsenal with the right pin placements, surface and cores?  How about quality practice, exercise and diet?  What about having the right soles on your shoes to match up to the approach and weather conditions (i.e. humidity)?  How about consistent timing, release and targeting?  To be sure, all of these components are important to quality shot making.  However, when it comes to the sport of bowling, there is one overlooked and underestimated weapon in your arsenal that supercedes all others.


For 99% of all bowlers, the most, critical, yet ignored weapon are the two middle fingers.  Protect these and you’ll put shoes on the baby’s feet.  Abuse or neglect these and you go home broke, busted and disgusted.  Now, before you’re quick to dismiss reading the rest of this article, because you don’t feel you have any problems with your fingers, think again.  Consider if you’ve ever thrown a bad shot…ever.  Well, what was the last thing that had contact with the ball just before the ball made contact with the lane?  Right!  Keep reading.


If you think about it, every other dynamic mentioned above is ultimately dependent upon how these two fingers behave throughout your approach and, more importantly, at that critical point of release.  With each delivery, these two fingers are subjected to an enormous amount of stress, pressure and friction.  Over time, the frictional force and repetitive rubbing contact these fingers are subjected to, will inevitably result in wear and tear to one degree or another from holding, swinging and delivering a 10-15 pound bowling ball.  Finger injuries are further exacerbated by the negative effects perspiration has on your grip and delivery.

In fact, in May 2011, the Center for Injury Research and Policy conducted an extensive, 18-year medical study, examining the various injuries associated with the activity of bowling.  Not surprisingly, the data and results revealed that the fingers are the most susceptible to injury (19%).  Now take a look at your own battle-scarred fingers.  If your fingers could talk, what would they tell you about how they’ve been treated?  If they’ve been really abused and mistreated, your ring finger might just take a bow.  Just how much of a critical role do these two fingers have on your game and what are the consequences of not paying close attention to their condition?


You might think that sprayed shots and erratic scoring is the first area of your game to come unraveled from painful, tired, swollen fingers.  On the contrary, a breakdown in your mental game is what precedes poor shot making.  As you insert your painful fingers into the ball holes, sensitive pain receptors pulsates signals directly to your brain, automatically high-jacking your mind to immediately focus on the throbbing, stinging pain rather than on executing a quality shot.


With each violent, twisting and lifting motion of the ball off your fingertips, your fingers scream for relief.  To deal with this relentless distraction while in the heat of the battle, you resort to quick fix measures, including fiddling with your grip to deal with the discomfort.  Now the battle turns to just getting through the game, which seems to go on forever, as strikes become fewer and far between.  Whether your discomfort is due to cuts, abrasions, blisters, torn skin, knots or arthritis, your ball release will be affected.  Left untreated, this will translate and degenerate into inconsistent ball roll, rotation, rev rate, speed, entry angle to the pocket, pin action and, ultimately, score.


Finger swelling and finger perspiration are also subtle yet devious culprits that play havoc with your physical and mental game if you’re not mindful.  First, swollen, tired fingers are incapable of seating at the proper depth into the unforgiving ball holes or grips, as neither ball holes nor grips “expands” on command.  Moreover, your fingers are too painful to jam into the holes.  To get through this agony, you settle for “pinching” the finger holes to hold onto the ball throughout the approach and delivery.  Needless to say, a “pinched” delivery is about as effective as rolling a beach ball down the lane.  And, like other finger ailments, as you begin down that long road of poorly executed shots, your frustration mounts, as well as your command of four-letter words.


Finger perspiration also has a detrimental effect on arm swing, delivery and ball roll.  As your finger pads secrete perspiration against the walls of the grips or finger holes, the battle is on to keep from losing the ball and dumping it on the lane.  During your approach and delivery, you’ll either consciously or unconsciously “grab” at or “squeeze” the life out of the ball like a chicken’s neck.  Besides giving birth to ugly knots on your joints, this grabbing and snatching at the ball tightens the muscles of the forearm and bicep, countermanding a smooth, fluid arm swing and delivery.  The consequences include an ineffective, inconsistent ball delivery and targeting.  This is immediately noticeable as the ball slips off the fingers just in front of the foul line…usually landing with a “thud” accompanied by another four-letter word.  So, while you might consider yourself the overly confident and popular Mr. Stroker-Extraordinaire, it doesn’t really matter how smooth and textbook your approach looks or how much “game” you think you have.  That’s because everything leading up to the point of delivery is secondary and irrelevant, if your fingers are not continually managed, protected and cared for, which is of primary importance.


There are a few products on the market, including rosins, puffballs, powders, creams, bandages, nail files and liquid skin that are available to address various finger issues.  Probably the most expensive, quick fix is bowler’s tape, produced by the grip manufacturers.  However, tape must be religiously applied with each outing and sometimes, even reapplied during competition.  This can add up to a costly expense very quickly, as grips alone were never designed to prevent wear and tear, deterioration, swelling or the negative effects perspiration has on the fingers.


It is important to note at this point that not all finger discomfort, pain, swelling, arthritis or other mobility issues can be attributed or blamed solely on the ball driller, though improper drilling is one possible cause.  There are many excellent and competent ball drillers possessing extensive experience, operating like surgeons when it comes to ball drilling.  They take great pride in their skills, craft and maintaining an excellent reputation.  It should also be pointed out that finger discomfort, abuse and swelling can and does occur even with a correctly drilled ball.  It can occur when bowlers get out of their comfort zone, bowling more games then they are accustomed to.  Also, the build up of residue against the walls of the finger holes (i.e. creams, powders, perspiration, etc.) can affect grip (i.e. “grabbing”), leading to finger problems and pain, especially around the first joint.  Therefore, identify the root cause of whatever finger challenges you’re experiencing before blaming your ball driller.  Only then can you apply the correct solution.


Indeed, the dilemma that has plagued and eluded bowlers for ages has been that elusive search to identify how to prevent all manner of finger discomforts, rather than just constantly reacting to the pain with continuous, temporary fixes.  For most bowlers that love the game, hanging up the shoes is not an option.  Unfortunately, for some, when the pain of bowling has exceeded the joy of the game, it becomes time to move on to other less physically demanding activities.


There is though a brand new, revolutionary product on the market that elevates the traditional grip concept to an entirely new level.  It’s called the Griips™ Glove, manufactured by Bowled Solutions® Corporation (  The concept behind the Griips™ Glove is the equivalent of putting grips on your fingers instead of placing your fingers in the grips, which are glued in the ball.  The tips or what is referred to as the “business end” of the Griips™ Glove provides a soft, comfortable feel like grips, except the benefits and results far surpass that of traditional grips.  The Griips™ Glove, which lasts approximately 300 games, is unique in that it was specifically designed for three purposes:  1) prevent finger discomfort, frictional wear and tear and swelling, 2) promote the healing process through the reversal of any existing wear and tear and, 3) improve and enhance the bowler’s overall game and bowling experience.  The bowler simply removes the existing grips from the ball to accommodate the Griips™ Glove, using the existing 31/32” holes of the ball.  The Griips™ Glove is the first and only product on the market that provides total protection through the immobilization of the two middle fingers.  This completely eliminates all contact of the fingers with the ball.  The result is the total eradication of friction, finger cuts, blisters, torn skin, burn marks, calluses, swelling and perspiration, as well as, providing significant relief to bowlers suffering from other finger mobility issues, including arthritis.

In scientific test studies conducted at the USBC’s $4-million International Training & Research Center (ITRC) the performance of the Griips™ Glove was compared against traditional grips and bowling bare-fingered.  The results from their advanced CATS (Computer-Aided Tracking System) overwhelmingly established the Griips™ Glove to be superior, outperforming traditional grips and bowling bare-fingered in that the bowler using the Griips™ Glove will experience the cleanest, most consistent, repeatable release in the game today.  The complex 360˚–GripTip™ technology behind the fingertips, combines three distinctive, elastomer fabrics layered in a conical-shaped design for maximum grip and ball control.  This design also prevents the bowler from squeezing the ball throughout the approach and delivery, which results in a smoother, looser arm swing, allowing gravity to do the work.  The fingers hold up longer, as they are now less fatigued.  On average, a bowler will experience a 30% increase in consistency and repeatability of release.  Bowlers using the Griips™ Glove are experiencing additional benefits including a higher rev rate and ball speed, improved target accuracy and shot repeatability, a consistent feel from ball to ball and, a significant improvement in average.  The overall benefits and features of the Griips™ Glove might be a very cost-effective solution worth exploring.