All You Need to Know about Backup Ball in Bowling

Backup Bowling

Have you ever noticed how Jason Belmonte plays? Professional bowlers, such as him throws the ball using both hands. But where does he aim? If you look carefully you will see Jason is a bit righty despite being a two-handed player. Why is that? Well, it’s because he throws a backup ball. Do you know what is backup ball in  bowling? Is it a good or bad method of bowling? Don’t you worry! We are here to answer all you need to know about backup ball bowling.

What is a Backup Ball in bowling?

Generally, the backup ball means a bowler is producing hook of the ball from their hand in the opposite direction instead of the considered normal direction. Bowlers who are right-handed tend to hook their balls to the right. On the other hand, left-handed bowlers, hook their ball to the left. If you’re a right-handed player, normally, you would aim for the 1–3 pocket. So here’s the difference. A backup ball right-handed bowler would aim for the 1–2 pocket. The scenario is opposite a left-handed bowler- who would normally aim for the 1–2 pocket, and as for the backup ball method, the aim is set for 1–3 pocket.

What is Backup Bowling

In the bowling dictionary, backup bowling is a kind of bowling shot that many players use to throw their balls. This method might seem unfamiliar to many because some players don’t even understand that their throwing style is backup bowling.

Some bowlers claim that their backup bowling technique comes naturally. For others, it is practiced and later achieved. So what happens during a backup ball shot? Well, instead of the usual counter-clockwise wrist motion during the ball release and a conventional hook, a backup bowler tends to rotate his/her wrist in a clockwise direction. This may sound odd to you a bit, but it is more common than you think. Now let’s find out whether this shot is useful or not.

Is Throwing backup Ball bad?

Throwing backup ball is considered unnatural in the bowling community. But just because it is unnatural, does it mean it is not good? Many professional bowlers, like Jason Belmonte, have been using this method and made the best out of it. If practiced and adapted properly, the backup bowling technique can turn into one of the most valuable weapons in your bag of tricks. Surprisingly, some bowlers move their wrist clockwise naturally and that doesn’t affect their performance, and also, they can get very successful. So, what we’re trying to say is— backup bowling is not bad. But if you’re interested in this method, you will clearly have to be the best.

However, if you don’t and never used the backup bowling method before, will it be wise to learn it from the scratch? We would never, ever recommend throwing a backup ball if you’re not doing it already. Why? First of all, it is indeed unnatural and secondly, it can cause potential injuries. Rotating your wrist clockwise means you are doing abnormal things with your wrist. Your wrist isn’t supposed to support that. If you already have a decent average, I would suggest you forget about throwing backup balls.

Now, what if you’re not satisfied with your score and decide, this method might be handy. Well, trust us, this is the last thing you need to practice. If you have any serious interest in bowling and fun bowling someday, you should not be throwing a backup ball. Why? Because besides injury, the backup ball method can ruin your bowling performance for good or at least for a long time. Of course, you will always see people in bowling alleys having chit-chats and fun while throwing their balls randomly and they might unknowingly use the backup ball technique. No need to copy them. They are more focused on the conversation than on their bowling score. We are not implying that that’s wrong because everyone deserves to have fun bowling. We just wanted to point this out to serious bowlers and discourage them from throwing the backup ball.

Now, let me tell you something interesting. Women are more likely to throw a better backup ball than men. Why so? Women have different physiques than men. Women are more physically predisposed to the clockwise motion of their wrists. That’s why many female bowlers can throw a decent backup ball. But for most men, they fail to control the backup ball. This is when the question often pops up— how to get rid of the unwanted backup ball?

When do you not use backup ball?

The answer is simple. If your bowling average has gone down after attempting the backup bowling method, it’s time to not use it anymore. Whether you’re unknowingly or intentionally throwing the backup ball and do not want to continue that anymore, now is your time to make your throw normal. This unnatural way of throwing a ball can raise a lot of complications. One of them is a wrist or other physical injury. To make sure they don’t reoccur, it’s time to move your wrist anti-clockwise when you release the bowling ball on the lane.

If you have been practicing it for quite some time, it will take time to permanently get rid of the backup ball. It requires persistence and practice as we often do not have control over our muscle memory. While you practice give some attention to your wrist position and try to take less time during ball release. This will allow you to slowly increase to a natural full swing at game speed.


Do you think you’re scoring better with the backup bowling style? Hang in there then. You can make it your most valuable asset someday. The proper backup bowling has more success rate than a proper conventional ball throw. Once again, if you’re doing fine already, don’t even think about this particular bowling style. So just keep on rolling and have lots of fun!


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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