When to Use a Bowling Wrist Brace and Thumb Tape

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Two of the greatest tools of bowling that often go overlooked by bowlers are the bowling wrist brace and bowlers tape. We see bowlers come in all the time complaining of wrist pains and swollen or blistered thumbs, and they were totally unaware that braces and tape exist. While sometimes the problem is typically attributed to a poor fit or overly heavy ball, it can also be an issue of the bowler just needing a little more feel or wrist support. In this lesson, we talk about the benefits and drawbacks of the bowling wrist brace, and teach you how to properly use bowlers tape to gain better control over your ball.

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20 Comments on “When to Use a Bowling Wrist Brace and Thumb Tape”

  1. Tape is a must. As a pro shop owner, I make my customers fussy about feel, so they know when to adjust it and not foul their swing. Whenever somebody says “I don’t use tape” I respond with “Well, you probably have inconsistent grip and feel, but haven’t tuned into it.”

    I have such a problem with the idea of a mechanical aid being strapped to a bowler’s arm though. If you are not skilled enough to adjust your wrist in golf or tennis, it’s a flaw that needs attention. Ball skills are fundamental to ball sports. Why do we not use these things as a last ditch effort and first promote strength and stamina conditioning, like every other sport would? My favourite wrist device is a 2.5kg hand weight and some isolated wrist curls, stepping up as the bowler builds strength, feel and digital touch.

    1. As for the tape, the grip of my thumb has been a problem many times. My thumb size sometimes swell or shrinks. I usually keep a strip or double strip of tape in the hole in effort to keep the grip right. Hand perspiration and lane oil residue can make a thumb slip out too soon also. Just wish the thumb grip was not such a problem.
      As for a wrist brace, I like to use to take pressure off my aging wrist. I am not far off from getting carpal tunnel problems. Also it provides consistency of wrist position. Those new mechanical adjustable devices seem so extreme. Maybe its more a physiological crutch.

    2. Well, that’s one of the reasons why the Japan PBA recently has started to ban wrist braces on their professional tour. And you do not see that many players on the PBA level that use a wrist brace because those guys are skilled enough to not need one.

  2. What type of tape can be used so when it is removed, there will not be a sticky substance left behind in the hole?

    1. Almost any tape used in the thumb or fingers can be removed without any sticky residue if it’s changed frequently. White ¾” or 1” tape is most commonly used and can easily leave behind a tacky substance. Changing tape every time you bowl isn’t unheard of and would reduce the possibility of residue but the majority or recreational or occasional tournament bowlers may only change when they compete and it’s not often enough.Another consideration for when to change tape should be temperature. If your equipment is in and out of cold or hot environments it can affect the adhesive on the tape leaving behind a slimy film. Consider keeping equipment in temperature controlled rooms and avoid the garage or trunk of a car which tend to be where heat can become extreme.To remove sticky substances there are “Tape Residue Remover” pads available in most pro shops or using a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a towel to clean the area should do the trick.Change tape often and avoid getting stuck.Thanks for continuing with the Bowling Academy.

  3. Hey. I am 14 year old bowler with 14 and 15 pound ball. My thumb keeps swelling and I keep having to go back to my pro shop operator. Any advice?

    1. Hi,If your thumb continues to swell as you play take the following into consideration:* Hole size is too small** If the hole is too small have it opened as large as
      needed to fit the thumb at its biggest. Use tape to adjust the size of
      the hole at the beginning of your games, when your thumb is smallest,
      and remove tape as your thumb swells.* Span is too long** Have your pro shop technician measure your hand for a relaxed grip so the distance from the thumb to the gripping edges of the
      fingers is comfortable and not excessively stretched.* Skin texture too tacky (moist)** Use something to dry any moisture from the hand and keep it cool with the hand dryer or other accessories.* Hole pitches incorrect** Have your pro shop technician measure your hand’s flexibility and adjust the pitched of any gripping holes accordingly.Have your fit checked often and if you are still growing continue to visit the pro shop often as necessary.Thanks for continuing with the Bowling Academy.Stephen Padilla

    2. USBC Bowling Academy thanks. My coach increased the pitch in my thumb, now I only have to knuckle the ball a small amount. I now also use new skin. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

  4. What if I bought a ball from a much larger man than myself, and the thumb hole is too big?? Ball is #14, and I can barely keep the ball in hand during back swing, and the ball either goes straight to the gutter, or has the speed & rev rate of a small novice child…HELP!

    1. Hi,

      Finding the correct ball weight, fit and characteristics is extremely important throughout any bowlers development.

      The way to get the proper ball is to have a certified pro shop professional measure your hand and evaluate your technique to determine what type of fit and ball you should have. The proper fit should be put into the correct weight ball and the ball should help the style of delivery and lane conditions you’re playing on.

      The Bowling Academy and USBC Coaching recommend an International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association (IBPSIA) certified pro shop professional to fit and drill equipment. To find an IBPSIA pro shop near you and to search by zip code and radius use the following link:


      Find a coach for analysis so they can keep up with your game regularly. The “Find A Coach” feature of Bowl.com is one of the best ways to locate a certified coach in your area. Visit http://www.bowl.com and use the “Find a…” tab in the top right corner to locate the “Find A Coach” feature, enter your zip code and a radius then click “search.”

      The following Bowling Academy video will help you choose the correct ball weight.

      What Bowling Ball Weight Should I Use? (https://www.usbcbowlingacademy.com/video/what-bowling-ball-weight-should-i-use-007636/)

      Thanks for continuing with the Bowling Academy.

    1. Hi Steve. It will likely increase your rev rate requiring you to put more speed on the ball to better control your skid, hook and roll.

      Here are two videos that you’ll find helpful on the subject.
      Thanks for watching!
      https://www.usbcbowlingacademy.com/video/bowling-release-ratio-006859/ <https://www.usbcbowlingacademy.com/video/bowling-release-ratio-006859/>


  5. Question. I bought a ball on EBay for cheap. Problem is is that I’ve never bowled one handed and the ball is too heavy at 16lbs. I can crank it back. I can throw it 17 mph. But my wrist breaks every time I swing back and I can’t get any revs. Will a brace help me throw this ball better?

    1. And the ball was undrilled and brand new. So it’s drilled to match my hand now. It rolls great when I throw it two handed but that’ll be illegal soon. My wrist just isn’t strong enough and although I don’t wanna buy a $50 brace I’d rather not plug it.

    2. Hello. If you are more comfortable throwing the ball two handed, do it. Their is no rule on the horizon eliminating two handed bowling.
      If you can throw a 16lb ball 17mph with one hand, the ball is not to heavy for you.
      A wrist brace could help for the wrist break, just to teach you to get the wrist in the correct position. It doesn’t sound like you need one long term.
      Try this drill https://www.nationalbowlingacademy.com/video/bowling-release-drill-foul-line-no-step-016455/ <https://www.nationalbowlingacademy.com/video/bowling-release-drill-foul-line-no-step-016455/>
      It will help you build strength while giving you a good idea how the ball should feel off your hand.
      Thanks for watching! Jason-National Bowling Academy

    3. National Bowling Academy I appreciate it. I’m worried that throwing it two handed during summer league my raise a few eyebrows seeing as people will call it a balance hole.

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