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Author Topic: To thumb or no thumb, that is the question!  (Read 1458 times)

Gene J Kanak

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To thumb or no thumb, that is the question!
« on: April 26, 2017, 10:23:29 AM »
All year long, I've bowled no-thumb (in the style of a Tom Daugherty...just not nearly as good!). I gave that a shot due to a thumb ligament injury and just to spice things up.

Overall, I really liked a lot of what I accomplished this year. One of the things I enjoyed the most is that no-thumb bowling makes me better at the extremes. Rather than playing the typical 18-12 or so shot that I'd play for 33 straight weeks with my thumb in the ball, no thumb allows me to move to the extreme outside with urethane or plastic, keep the ball in front of me, and play up 3, 4, 5 when I want to. It also allows me to get further left than I can with my thumb in the ball and get inside to 5th arrow or more when/if the shot calls for it. What I'm saying is that it makes my game more dynamic.

Now, on the year, I only averaged 202, which is down more than ten pins from last year. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I think it comes down more to execution than it actually does the particular style I went with; nevertheless, during the sweeper night (when no league points were at stake for my team), I bowled with my thumb in and shot a very solid 680 or so, and that was after not having used my thumb in a ball since September.

The question in front of me now is what do I do in Vegas a week from Sunday? Like everyone else, I've heard that the shot is playing very difficult for most this year. Seeing Team USA member Derek Eoff open team with 570 or so has me worried, as does seeing former Team All-Events Champion Erik Vermilyea, also a former Junior Team USA Member, shoot 1707 all-events.

My worry is this: bowling with my thumb in would be the "safe" play, but in my eight or so years of OC experience, I've still never shot higher than 1799. Sadly, my physical game (w/thumb in) has limitations that just make it really hard for me to strike consistently on tough patterns like these. When I'm not striking, I have to shoot more spares (and they're more difficult than the single pins of league), which makes it much easier to drop a 160 game in there.

When I bowl no thumb, my game is more dynamic. I'm not talking about hooking the ball, just what I can do with it and how hard I can get it to hit. That's why part of me thinks it's best to go for the gusto and stick with no-thumb. Yes, if I struggle, it could get catastrohpically ugly, like 140 a game ugly, but if I throw it like I'm capable of, I think I bring a higher ceiling into play too. For the sake of reference, in my OC career, the I have typically been 200 plus in roughly 4 of the 9 games per year. However, my high of 5 games of 200 or better came in Year 2, when I was still bowling two-handed as part of the USBC research project I was a a part of.

If I bowl with my thumb IN the ball, I'm likely to bring the following gear:

Haywire (pin down, 1000 abralon)
Haywire (pin up, 4000 abralon)
Gamebreaker (Pin down, 2000)
Phaze II (Pin up, 2000 or 3000 abralon)
Frantic (Pin up, 2000 polished)
Plastic

If I bowl no thumb, I'm likely to bring these:

Vivid (Pin about 2.5" from PAP, 1000)
IQ Tour (Pin 3.5" from PAP, 2000)
Forza GT (Pin 2.5" from PAP, 2000)
Tropical Heat Hybrid (Pin 3.5" from PAP, 2000 *would add polish before minors)
Black Hammer urethane or Fanatic BTU (500 either way)
Plastic

I have a week and half to make the call and some time to practice with both between now and then. What do you guys think?



 

Steven

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Re: To thumb or no thumb, that is the question!
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2017, 11:11:56 AM »

My worry is this: bowling with my thumb in would be the "safe" play, but in my eight or so years of OC experience, I've still never shot higher than 1799. Sadly, my physical game (w/thumb in) has limitations that just make it really hard for me to strike consistently on tough patterns like these. When I'm not striking, I have to shoot more spares (and they're more difficult than the single pins of league), which makes it much easier to drop a 160 game in there.

 
I seem to have the same curse at the Open. I have my moments, but it always seems tougher than what I experience at the side BJ or even PBA Regionals. This year is especially challenging.
 
Just based on my experience this year, you might have more upside going no-thumb. If you can play soft up the outside, there is a shot that's unavailable to most bowlers. One of my teammates shot 1900+ throwing 12-13 mph up the 4 board. He made $4000 in brackets milking that shot across all events. If that doesn't work, you can also get deeper than many other bowlers trying to play tighter and chewing up the middle. 
 
You might want to try the BJ first to get a feel for which option will work best for you. The shot plays similar to doubles/singles.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2017, 11:17:02 AM by Steven »