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Curve Ball vs. Straight Ball in Bowling

curve ball vs sraight ball in bowling - bowlingview

In the world of bowling, two types of throws significantly shape the game’s dynamics – the Curve Ball and the Straight Ball. The Straight Ball, as the name suggests, is when the ball is thrown in a straight line towards the pins.
It’s often the first technique that beginners learn in bowling. On the other hand, a Curve Ball involves a specific wrist action that causes the ball to curve or hook as it approaches the pins, a technique often incorporated by more advanced players.
Understanding the differences between these two types of throws is crucial as it can greatly influence your scoring potential and overall strategy in the game.

The Straight Ball

A. Characteristics of the Straight Ball

The Straight Ball is often the first type of throw that beginner bowlers learn. Its main characteristic is the linear path it follows from the moment it leaves the player’s hand until it hits the pins.
This predictable trajectory provides a level of control and consistency, especially for novice players trying to gain confidence and accuracy in their throws.

B. How to Deliver a Straight Ball

Delivering a straight ball involves a straightforward wrist motion. The bowler’s hand and wrist remain straight and behind the ball throughout the swing and release.
The thumb is the first to exit the ball, followed by the fingers, which imparts no rotational force on the ball, ensuring a straight trajectory.

C. When to Use the Straight Ball

The Straight Ball is generally best used when aiming for a spare, where precision is more important than power. It allows bowlers to target specific pins directly, which can be beneficial when only one or two pins remain.
Additionally, for beginners still acquainting themselves with the sport’s basics, the Straight Ball serves as an ideal starting point before progressing to more complex throws.

The Curve Ball

A. Characteristics of the Curve Ball

The Curve Ball, unlike the Straight Ball, follows a distinctive curved trajectory as it moves down the lane. Favored by more experienced bowlers, this ball is recognized for its ability to hook sharply towards the pins.
The unique movement of the Curve Ball is a result of the bowler imparting a rotational force on the ball, causing it to spin on its axis and curve as it approaches the pins.
B. How to Deliver a Curve Ball
Delivering a Curve Ball requires a different technique from a straight throw. The bowler’s hand and fingers play a critical role in generating the spin that characterizes this throw.
The bowler’s hand starts behind the ball, and as the arm swings forward, the hand rotates around the ball, exiting at the sides rather than at the top. The fingers release last, imparting a rotational force that causes the ball to curve.

C. When to Use the Curve Ball

The Curve Ball is particularly effective when trying to achieve a strike, as the curved trajectory allows the ball to hit the pins at an optimal angle. This technique often results in a better pin action, increasing the chances of knocking down all pins.
However, mastering the curve ball requires practice and skill, and is typically recommended for more advanced players.

Key Differences between the Curve Ball and Straight Ball

The technique for delivering a Curve Ball is distinct from that of a Straight Ball. In a Curve Ball, the bowler’s hand starts behind the ball, rotating around it during the forward swing, and exiting at the sides.
The fingers release last, imparting a rotational force that causes the ball to curve. Conversely, for a Straight Ball, the hand stays behind the ball throughout the entire delivery, allowing for a straight trajectory with no curvature.
The impact of each ball on the pins also varies significantly.
A Curve Ball, due to its unique trajectory, hits the pins at an optimal angle, often leading to better pin action and a higher chance of achieving a strike. On the other hand, a Straight Ball hits the pins head-on, which can be less effective at creating a cascading effect among the pins.

Choosing Between a Curve Ball and Straight Ball

When deciding between a curve ball and a straight ball, several factors come into play. It’s essential to consider the bowler’s skill level, the lane conditions, and the specific scenario in the game.
For beginners, a straight ball is often the better choice as it requires less complicated technique and allows the player to focus on the basics, such as aim and timing. However, as the player becomes more experienced, learning to execute a curve ball can significantly increase their scoring potential.
When considering lane conditions, a dry lane is typically more conducive to using a straight ball, whereas a more heavily oiled lane may call for the curve ball’s sideways motion.
Furthermore, the composition and weight of the bowling ball itself can influence which delivery method is most effective. A ball with a plastic coverstock is ideal for a straight throw, while a ball with a reactive resin coverstock is more suitable for a curve.
Ultimately, the decision between a curve ball and straight ball should be based on the bowler’s comfort and confidence with each technique, as well as the specific circumstances of the game.


In conclusion, the choice between a curve ball and a straight ball in bowling is contingent upon several factors including the bowler’s skill level, lane conditions, and the type of bowling ball. Beginners usually find success with a straight ball, allowing them to hone the fundamentals of aim and timing.
As their skills develop, a curve ball can be a powerful tool for increasing scoring potential. Lane conditions also play a significant role, with dry lanes being more suitable for straight balls, while more heavily oiled lanes can benefit from the sideways motion of a curve ball. Moreover, the ball’s composition and weight can profoundly impact the efficacy of each throw.
It’s crucial to remember that comfort and confidence in each technique, coupled with an understanding of the game’s circumstances, should ultimately guide the choice between a curve or straight ball. Bowlers’ mindful selection of their ball and throw technique can significantly enhance their performance and enjoyment of the game.


In this comprehensive guide to bowling technique, we’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the sport. These questions cover a range of topics from controlling the curve to understanding the impact of your throw’s speed, and can serve as a beneficial resource for both beginners and seasoned bowlers.

Q: How can a novice bowler curve a bowling ball?

A: Learning to curve a bowling ball starts with choosing a right ball. Lighter balls are easier to spin and hook.

After that, it’s essential to focus on the grip and swing. One bowling tip is to make sure the ball is on the side of your hand during your backswing and approaching the release point.

When releasing the ball, aim to turn your hand as though you are trying to open a doorknob. Practice is key in perfecting how you curve a bowling ball.

Q: How can a bowler effectively hook the ball?

A: To hook the ball effectively, a bowler needs to start by positioning their fingers correctly on the bowling ball.

They will then need to swing the ball back, keeping it close to the body. As the ball comes forward, it’s essential to turn the hand from a handshake position to a “palm down” position to generate the necessary spin on the ball.

The bowling lane conditions also play a crucial role, so understanding the oiling pattern could likewise affect the trajectory of the hook bowl.

Q: What is the best place to aim when you curve the ball in a bowling alley?

A: When curving the ball in a bowling alley, it’s usually best to aim for the zone known as the “pocket.” For right-handed bowlers, the “pocket” is between the 1 and 3 pins, and for left-hand bowlers, it’s between the 1 and 2 pins.

With a good curve, the ball should hit the pocket at an angle, which increases the probability of knocking down all the pins for a strike.

Q: How does the type of ball affect the ball curves in bowling?

A: The type of ball can heavily impact the way the ball curves when bowling. Bowling balls made out of certain materials like urethane or reactive resin are designed to hook or curve since they offer more friction with the lane surface.

This feature is especially apparent when the reactive ball reaches the drier back end of the lane. On the other hand, balls made of plastic or polyester tend to go straighter and are preferred for shooting spares.

Q: Why do professional bowlers curve the ball rather than bowling straight?

A: Professional bowlers often curve the ball rather than bowling straight because a curved ball has more potential to knock down all the pins.

By hitting the pins at an angle (known as entering the pocket), the ball’s energy gets dispersed more, increasing the chances of a strike. Also, the curve or hook shot gives them more control over their game, as they can manipulate the ball’s path according to the lane conditions.

Q: What is the primary difference in the technique used to spin the ball straight versus hooking or curving the ball?

A: In bowling straight, you want your thumb to release the ball first, followed by your fingers, and you make sure your hand and palm are pointed directly towards the pins.

To curve or hook the ball, you will aim to rotate your fingers and wrist upon release, with your hand finishing in a “shaking hands” position, which imparts a sideways spin on the ball and causes it to curve.

Q: Can you learn how to curve a ball in any bowling alley?

A: Yes, you can learn to curve a ball in any bowling alley. However, keep in mind that different bowling alleys can have different lane conditions. Variations in oil patterns on the lanes can influence how much and how quickly your ball curves or hooks.

Understanding these variables and learning to adjust your hook shot accordingly is a crucial aspect of becoming a skilled bowler.

Q: How to control the curve with different types of bowling balls?

A: Controlling the curve with different types of bowling balls starts with understanding the ball composition. A reactive ball tends to curve more than plastic or polyester balls due to the increased friction.

Playing with different release techniques, like adjusting the speed, rotation, and the amount of rev rate can influence the curve’s degree. Knowledge about the oil pattern on the bowling lane will also help in controlling the curve.

Q: How does the speed of the throw affect a curve ball in bowling?

A: The speed of the throw can significantly affect the curve in bowling. A faster throw can reduce the level of hook or curve because it gives less time for the ball to react to the lane surface and its friction.

Conversely, a slower throw can lead to more curve as it gives the ball more time to react. Each player should practice to find a speed that suits their style and achievable consistency.

Q: Is it better to use a hook shot or a straight shot in bowling?

A: It depends a lot on individual skill, comfort, and the specific game conditions. A hook shot or a ball that’s curving in bowling can potentially knock down more pins due to the angle it hits the pocket.

However, it requires more skill to master. A straight shot is easier to control and beneficial in certain spare situations. As such, both techniques have their places, and versatile bowlers who can perform both have an advantage.