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Technique SLUG IT OUT


consideration the fact that your thumb will shrink or expand based on variables like temperature, humidity and usage. If your ball was drilled to perfectly fi t your thumb, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to fi t your thumb into the ball properly when it swells. Leaving room for tape is a given these days.


Bowlers with an arsenal of balls will often have thumb slugs inserted in the thumbhole. Slugs give the same texture and feel to multiple balls. If you take a ball with a hard surface and hard coverstock, it’s going to have a slicker feel. A softer, more ag- gressive ball is going to off er a little more friction in the grip. To alleviate the change in feel from one ball in an arsenal to another, bowlers sometimes use a slug so that the material that sur- rounds their thumb always feels the same. Today, there are even interchangeable thumb sleeves that you can remove from one ball and insert into another. That way the size, feel and even shape of the thumbhole is perfectly consistent one ball to another.

It’s all on tape: Bryan O’Keefe discusses the reasons top bowlers use tape, and demon- strates how to properly insert tape into your bowling ball.

from TV lights and sweat might make his thumb swell during the course of the match and he makes sure he always has the perfect fi t.

Temperature and humidity are the

primary culprits aff ecting the size of your thumb. Cold weather can cause your thumb to shrink slightly, while warm temperatures and high humidity can cause your thumb to swell up. Usage can also aff ect your thumb. After two or three games, your thumb can swell from the increased blood fl ow.


That’s why, when you have a new ball drilled, pro shops should drill your thumbhole slightly larger to take into



In addition to tape

that is inserted into the thumb hole, there is also tape to protect or stop blistering and callousing. This tape is placed directly on your bowling hand, wherever you’re getting excessive friction or rubbing.

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April 2013

If you don’t compensate for the vari- ances, your game is sure to suff er. If it’s cold outside and your thumb is smaller than normal, you’ll have to squeeze the ball in order to hang onto it. If it’s warm, or your hands are sweaty or clammy, you may not be able to get your thumb into the hole properly.

I’m somewhat amused by intermedi- ate bowlers who eschew the use of tape. The pros use it all the time. Tape is the

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