The Scoop On Two-Handed Bowling: Is It Really Unfair?

Recreational activity for some but passionate sports for others bowling has been with mankind since as far as Ancient Egypt with the same balls and pins standing and rolling through generations. The game is as simple as it gets, one simply stands on one end of a lane with pins erect on the other end, and all you have to do is roll a ball down the lane and try to knock down as many pins as you possibly can. The game may sound simple enough, but when you’re stuck trying to deal with a 7-10 split, then you realize how skillful this game can be. As time went on, the game was bound to evolve further and further with new rules and regulations, new materials for the lane, and new techniques to throw the ball down the lane. Among those techniques that pretty much stood out was “Two-Handed Bowling”.

Can you use two hands in bowling?

Two-handed bowling was brought to the limelight in 2004 towards everyone’s attention by fellow bowler Osku Palermaa performing in that year’s U.S Open. The technique was witnessed again in 2009 by Jason Belmonte taking home the PBA title that year at The Bowling Foundation Long Island Classic and ever since then, the debate began on whether to praise Jason Belmonte or to criticize him for such an unorthodox technique for its time. One thing was for certain thought on everyone’s mind whether the two-handed technique was deemed legal or just a loop-hole in the rules of bowling to gain an unfair advantage. Bowling purists pressed hard against the two-handed bowling they witnessed, claiming it to be a clear violation of the rules revolving around the sport, some even going as far as claiming it to be dangerous for bowling that would bring irreparable consequences if the technique was to be left unchecked. 

When the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) came into play to study this technique and give everyone an answer once and for all on whether this unique technique is fairly legal to use in a game or not, they found out and concluded that no rules were violated while using two hands to bowl bringing an unforeseen innovation to an already popular game if you may look it that way as some started to try out and adapt this newfound way while others remained against it.

Is two-handed bowling really better?

Now you may have heard, “two heads are better than one” well, that may be true in some cases, but what about two hands in bowling? Let us look at the mechanics, shall we, and figure out what makes it unique. Usually, what happens is that when a bowler is about to deliver their bowling ball, they use one hand to swing the ball and the other hand as a brace to keep it in place and then remove the hand bracing the ball and let momentum do the rest of the work as the ball rolls down towards the pins with the bowler hoping to land a strike.

Now for two-handed bowling, things may look the same initially, but the technique takes the end delivery to another gear. As the name suggests, two-handed bowling would utilize both your appendages while delivering the ball bending their two arms and maintaining both hands on the ball, ensuring a higher distribution of weight from the ball. Using both hands, now what the player can do is easily add more force into their delivery, allowing them to have better openings play different angles, and if done efficiently, you can even dominate the game.

But as nice as that all sounds, this technique also brings drawbacks to the board. Because the player has to bend and rotate his or her body more because both hands are being used, this creates more torque generated going through the spine and lumbar, but then again, you can say that about regular one-handed bowling deliveries as well, which can easily cause injuries like two-handed bowling if not done correctly.

In the end, it all boils down to your preference as some feel that two-handed bowling is powerful but should be avoided as it can have adverse side effects on your body, while others like Jason Belmonte feel that with proper stretches and exercise, you’ll be fit, fine and winning lane after lane.

left-handed two-handed bowling vs. right-handed two-handed bowling

What if I told you that using bowling balls is just as similar as using a pen? At first, you may think that it’s absurd, but just imagine for a second and look at the similarities. Your handwriting can be reflected in how you deliver the ball; after all, it’s all about your wrists and practices slowly dissolving into muscle memory for you. You already know how to write is divided into two categories, either they write with their left hand or they write with their right hand. This subconscious preference is imbued so deep within one’s mind that they even develop a more dominant stronger hand compared to their other hand. So imagine a bowler wanting to capitalize on this as well. If they write with their left or right hand, why not even bowl with their preferred hand, thus giving us the world of left-handed and right-handed bowling balls tailor-made for each bowler’s preference.

If you look at the statistics, you’d find out that roughly 13% of the adult population is made up of left-handed people, and they may sound like a really small population, but then when you take a look at the Professional Bowlers Association top 50 players, you will find out that 20% of the athletes in it are left-handed. If you look in the past, you’ll even see one of the greatest bowling legends. The late Earl Anthony was also left-handed and managed to amass a plethora of titles and awards decorating himself.

So does a different dominant hand really impact the game that much? Some say fewer left-handed people result in the lane being utterly different on its left-side due to less action there, resulting in a more uniform surface along the way and a better, more consistent oil spread. So does the lack of lanes not changing as much for left-handed bowlers compared to the right-handed bowlers really their secret towards winning the game? And if that really is the reason, then modern technology can easily allow all lanes to be the same from each side, respectively determined easily by the ratio of left and right-handed players. If you look at left-handed players, they have not only different bowling balls but also different bowling shoes built to accommodate their stances while playing their game. Or maybe the effects are all just negligible and are all in the players’ head whenever they come across an uncommon opponent using a dominant hand opposite to theirs truly as sometimes just winning through mind games can be enough to win the war.

For certain, this decade-old game shall always be filled with surprises and cherished by many allowing the game of bowling to keep on evolving and introducing new ways and techniques to revolutionize the game even further beyond than it already is.

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