The Bowling Tape Alternatives That You’ve Always Wanted To Know About But Were Afraid To Ask

Bowling tape is a very versatile and essential tool for bowlers. Bowling tape is used to compensate for the shrinking of the thumb during bowling and to protect from injury. If your thumb shrinks or swells, this causes your grip to change, leaving your wrist and forearms to compensate. And if your thumb or any of your fingers get caught in the ball, the impact once again is taken throughout the arm. 

It can ultimately lead to consistent injury and the detriment of your ability to bowl. An injured bowler is an inconsistent bowler, and inconsistency leads to a lack of motivation, which can result in you not wanting to play altogether. 

Bowling tape primarily reshapes finger and thumb grip concerning the bowling balls holes. It provides a comfortable and consistent grip regardless of your fingers’ condition during play.

 NOTE: Two primary types of tape are used. A textured grip allows for higher amounts of friction for a solid grip and a smoother texture for a quicker release. Both being essential for whatever you need in that specific moment.

Can I use something other than bowling tape?

With the rise in prices towards bowling tape and the increased necessity of it for people who play consistently, there is a constant query: “Is there an alternative?”. 

Bowling tape, on average, costs around 18 Dollars a roll and is significantly smaller than a normal generic roll of tape. Most people who consistently play tend to go through an entire roll in a small number of games. Fortunately, there are many alternatives you can use. Many people have found success in using finger guards, generic tapes, powders, among other things.

If you’re playing in a tournament you will want to check to make sure you can even use bowling tape, let alone whatever your alternative is. If you’re just out for a casual game than your fine, but in tournaments everything changes. So you’ll want to make sure if you use an alternative to bowling tape that it can be used during a tournament. 

Otherwise the game your used to playing will change. If you bowl an average of, let’s say 215, with baby powder in your bowling ball but without it you bowl 150. You enter a tournament and the officials tell you that baby powder is not allowed as an alternative. You will stink(but not because you can’t “wear” the baby powder) because your game will suffer without the powder.

So just be careful about what you use.

What are some alternatives to bowling tape?

Finger guards

These are commonly used by people who knit and play guitar. They use finger guards to avoid injury and create space in their fingers. So it stands to reason that they would work for bowlers. 

Finger guards come in a variety of forms, some textured guards would provide an ideal grip for anyone who is bowling, and their thumb has decreased in size to avoid early release. There are glove-like finger guards that offer the same smooth texture for gloves, so the ball could roll off your fingers if that’s what you need. Unlike bowling tape, finger guards are a reusable one-time investment.

There are also silicone and rubber finger guards, but I don’t think those would be good for bowling. Your fingers would most likely get stuck while you’re attempting to throw the ball and the outcome from that wouldn’t be good. Since fingers tend to swell, putting rubber or silicone over them and into bowling ball holes just seems like a bad idea.


Another cost-effective alternative is bandages.  Also more than cost-effective, it is easier to find. You’ll find bandages in tape or roll form at a local drug or convenience store. Plus, a bandage roll costs around 13 Dollars with a little more on it than bowling tape, not to mention the cool characters that come on some name brand bandages. 

The only drawback is finding textured bandages for better grip, some bowlers advise double rolling the bandage to compensate for grip loss due to thumb shrinking. Do this only if it works for you and not because you read it online. If it’s not comfortable, don’t do it. Remember, every body is different.

Electrical Tape

Another obvious alternative is electrical tape as an alternative for smooth bowling tape; it’s probably ideal. The feel is very similar, so is the look, and a roll of electrical tape will run you down about 10 dollars or less for more tape than you would get in a roll of bowling tape.

The obvious drawback is there is no graded or high texture variant similar to bowling tape. Like previously mentioned, for bandages, double rolling the tape should give you a consistent advantage and improvement in the overall grip of the bowling ball.

Don’t forget that you have to have a way to secure the bandage tape, which is usually fastened with its own type of tape.

Thumb Socks

So thumb socks were initially made to protect fingers during long spells of writing. They are a very versatile tool. They come in rubber, wool, and textured variants. If you buy 3-4 of them for your thumbs and fingers, plus different versions depending on whether you want a looser or a tighter grip, it will cost you more initially than bowling tape. 

Obviously, buying a reusable guard for your fingers will be a safe investment in the long run. Remember that they are reusable so they can and should be washed. Also, and I don’t think I need to say this but I will, don’t lend them to others.

Thumb socks are a good and safe bet.

Bowling Finger Inserts

Bowling finger inserts are unique little things. They are borders that attach to the inside of a bowling ball’s finger holes. These will probably be a preferred alternative if you don’t feel comfortable covering your hands with tapes or gloves. Instead of changing your fingers, it changes the grip of the ball to accommodate the bowler. They also have a wide variety of graded, smooth, or textured. Plus, they’re highly reusable.

Baby Powder 

So baby powder is another alternative that changes the texture around your finger without adding any sort of device or weight to it. It’s a common and cheap alternative used by professionals.

 The grip is significantly improved when fingers, especially the thumb, do not cooperate due to shrinkage or other factors. It is also a great fix for people who already have generally oily skin in their hands. If their hands begin to sweat due to a high-pressure situation or fatigue, baby powder can dry up and help a player regain confidence in their grip. And it prevents skin from tearing, sticking, or chafing due to consistent grip on the ball. In the end, to each, his own, which alternative they choose is about what works best for you financially, physically, and in-game.

When should a bowler use bowling tape?

A person who bowls should always use bowling tape. The most common scenario is when they feel their throws are growing inconsistent. Sometimes in high-pressure situations, oil and dirt build up inside the finger holes of the ball. In some cases, you should use or change the tape you’re using to fit in the situation to tighten or loosen your grip respective to the situation you’re in. Bowling tape can help change the complexion of an entire high-pressure game. That would also require you to familiarize yourself with them and see which one works best for you.

If there’s one thing that’s common in the sport of bowling, it is wrist and thumb-based injury. Bowlers throw heavy balls constantly during practice and professional tournaments—people who bowl daily run a higher risk of arm injury than the average person. You can’t perfect your technique with an injured arm. 

Constant injury and change in technique to compensate for said injury will affect your game to a significant detriment and only ruin your progress. It’s better to spend a couple of bucks on something to protect your wrist rather than a foot a large medical bill from someone treating you and telling you something you should have noticed from the beginning.

 Almost all bowlers who play at a professional level do so with some form of wrist support. Be it bowling tape, specialized gloves, or powder. These are just some of the types that are most commonly seen. If the pros are using some kind of wrist support, it stands to reason, so should you. So back to the question, “, when should a bowler use bowling tape?” well, the simplest answer is always because it could preserve, enhance and save your whole career.

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