The 4 Basic Shots in Bowling

Bowling is a fun, exciting, and refreshing sport. It has a few basic shots you can master to make you much better at the sport.

The 4 Basic Shots in Bowling

What Are the Four Basic Shots In Bowling?

The four basic shots in bowling are the straight ball, the hook ball, the curve ball, and the backup ball. The straight ball shot is the simplest and easiest of the four. The hook and the curve ball shots both impart spin on the ball, making it more likely to strike more pins. The backup ball shot is rarely used due to its unusual technique.

Read on to learn more about these four basic shots in bowling.

Straight ball

A straight ball is one of the simplest and most effective shots in bowling. As its name suggests, the shot is perfectly straight, and the ball isn’t spun or rotated before it is released. The straight ball is also one of the easiest moves to master.

To execute a perfectly straight ball shot, you need to make sure you’ve gripped the ball correctly and your fingers are nicely positioned in the slots.

To make sure you’re in the best position to release the ball, your dominant foot should be at the front when you bowl. If you’re right-handed, your dominant foot is the left one, and if you’re left-handed, it’s the right one.

Hook ball

The hook ball is another effective shot in bowling. It is different from the straight shot as the ball moves in a curved trajectory instead of a straight one. If executed correctly, the ball may hit the pins with more force, and the spin can also cause it to strike other pins not directly in its path.

Executing a hook shot requires a bit more technique. The ball should be held using the fingertip grip, in which the ring and middle fingers are dug in only till the first knuckle. The thumb, however, is fully inserted into the slot.

To make the shot, you should first take your thumb out just as you take the final step forward. You should then remove your fingers and impart spin on the ball just before releasing it.

Read more here: How to Hook a Bowling Ball


The curveball shot is somewhat more difficult to master than the straight and hooks shots, especially for beginners. This shot is pretty similar to the hook shot.

The steps for execution are the same as the ones for the hook shot. You take your position, grip the ball using the knuckle grip and spin it just before releasing it. The spin in the curve shot is not imparted by your wrist but is instead created by the swing of your arm.

Read more about curve ball here: How to Curve a Bowling Ball

Backup ball

The backup shot is rarely used in bowling. This shot is unusual because it hooks or spins the ball in the opposite direction of a normal hook shot. So, if the player is right-handed, they would spin the ball from left to right instead of doing it the other way round.

To some players, the shot comes naturally, while other players master it by practicing it. Many players and experts in the bowling community consider this technique bad since it twists your wrist in an unnatural position, which can potentially lead to injuries.

To sum it up, the backup shot should only be used if you already know the technique and have the skill and training to execute it perfectly without sustaining any injury. For beginners, this shot isn’t recommended.

Bowling vs. Lawn bowling

Alley bowling is different from lawn bowling. The main idea of the game is the same in both versions, which is to send the ball rolling towards a target.

However, in lawn bowling, the balls aren’t perfectly round like the ones in alley bowling. They are curved, and due to this, the balls roll in a curved path instead of a straight one.

In alley bowling, the objective is to send the ball rolling and strike down as many pins as possible. Whereas in lawn bowling, players try to get the balls as close to the target ball, known as the “jack.”

Why do we mention lawn bowling? That is because you should not be confused with the 4 basic shots in lawn bowling, namely the draw, the yard on, the running shot/ditch length shot, and the drive.

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