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Two-Handed Bowling Rules: Master This Explosive Style in 2024

  • Reading time:14 mins read

The two-handed bowling approach has taken the sport by storm in recent years. While once seen as an unconventional style, bowlers utilizing both hands during their delivery are now a common sight on pro tours and at your local alley. Two-handers are renowned for generating explosive power and revolutions that make even seasoned one-handed players take notice.

However, with the rise in popularity of this delivery method comes the need for a clear understanding of the official rules that govern it. Whether you’re a newcomer curious about giving two-handed bowling a try or an experienced player looking to refine your game, this comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about legal techniques, proper form, strategies, and more.

Two-Handed Bowling: The Basics

Two-handed bowling, as the name implies, involves using both hands throughout the entire approach and delivery. Unlike the traditional one-handed style where the non-bowling hand stays behind the back, two-handers utilize their off hand to impart additional rev rate and power behind the ball.

While it may look unorthodox, the two-handed approach offers several key benefits when executed correctly:

  • Increased Rev Rate: Two hands allow you to impart massively increased revolutions on the ball for more powerful strikes.
  • More Axis Tilt: The dual hand position creates a more pronounced tilt angle for better entry into the pocket.
  • Spare Shooting Ease: The straight line to the pocket makes converting spares simpler for two-handers.

That said, the style isn’t without its drawbacks compared to one-handed bowling:

  • Potential Strain/Injuries: The unorthodox motion puts more stress on the body if form isn’t precise.
  • Rev Dominance Required: Heavy oil patterns can be difficult if you lack ample revolutions.
  • Consistency Challenges: Timing and release point are tougher to repeat with two hands.

Official Rules for Two-Handed Bowling

As two-handed bowling has exploded in popularity, the game’s governing bodies like the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) have clarified the rules around what is deemed legal technique. While there are more nuances, the core rules stipulate:

Legal Techniques:

  • You can start with the ball in one hand or both at the start of your approach.
  • Both hands must remain on the ball throughout the entire approach and release.
  • No part of your hand can cross the foul line until after release.

Illegal Techniques:

  • Taking one hand fully off the ball during your delivery stride.
  • Using your non-bowling hand to impart any curving/spiraling motion on the ball’s path.
  • Having one hand in a higher position than the other during release (no “truck driver” style).

It’s crucial that two-handed bowlers understand these rules from major organizations like USBC, PWBA, and others. Using illegal forms like a one-handed release or imparting curve from just your off-hand can result in penalties or disqualification in sanctioned events.

Proper Two-Handed Bowling Form

Developing sound fundamental form is absolutely vital for two-handed bowling success and avoiding injuries down the line. Here is a step-by-step look at proper execution:

The Stance and Start

  • Your feet should straddle the center line, with your non-bowling side slightly ahead.
  • Keep your knees bent and back straight to avoid straining.
  • Cup the ball with both hands together, arms hanging naturally.

The Approach and Timing

  • Take 4-6 full strides, pushing off strongly from your non-bowling side foot.
  • Synchronize the swing path of the ball with your steps for a smooth pendulum motion.
  • Time your steps so your bowling side foot strikes as your swing reaches the bottom.

The Upswing and Footwork

  • Drive your bowling side knee toward the target as you complete your final step.
  • Bring the ball up in a straight line close to your body, keeping both hands in sync.
  • Allow your body’s momentum and gravity to pull the ball back down.

The Release Point

  • As the ball descends, keep your upper body leaned forward at the waist.
  • Release at or just inside the foul line with both hands together, avoiding any wrist cupping.
  • Don’t pull your arms apart until after the ball leaves your hands on that straight line.

Consistently replicating this proper two-handed approach takes considerable practice. Utilize drills like staying behind the foul line as you groove the footwork and pendulum swing. Film yourself to analyze your execution from multiple angles.

Furthermore, developing core strength, flexibility, and balance through ancillary exercises is highly recommended to maintain proper form. This places less strain on smaller muscle groups during the rigorous two-handed motion.

Equipment Considerations

Beyond just technique, two-handed bowlers need to carefully evaluate their equipment choices to maximize performance and longevity on the lanes. A few key pointers:

Ball Weight and Cover Stock

Due to the high rev rates and power generated, two-handers generally require heavier weight balls (15-16 lbs for men, 14+ lbs for women) with aggressive coverstock materials to maintain proper motion through the oil pattern.

However, going too heavy can prove counterproductive and lead to pain or injuries from the strenuous motion. Finding the right balance is key – your pro shop operator can guide you based on your rev rate and ball speed.

Uneven Wear and Maintenance

The two-handed delivery places unique stresses on bowling balls that accelerate wear, especially on the side used by the non-bowling hand. Signs of deterioration like casual beveling need prompt maintenance like re-shining or resurfacing.

Two-handers may also need to get new layouts and drill balls more frequently as weights and tracks develop inconsistencies over time.

Accessories Like Wrist Braces

Many two-handed bowlers utilize accessories like wrist braces or supports to prevent strain during the delivery. Quality braces provide compression and warmth to keep muscles and tendons protected through the explosive hand leverages.

Choosing the right style of brace based on your specific needs is important. Some lock the wrist rigid, while others allow more flexibility and freedom of movement. Discuss your options with a pro shop expert.

Two-Handed Bowling Strategies

Mastering the fundamentals is just the first step – crafting strategies tailored to the two-handed style is equally vital for achieving scoring success.

Generating Explosive Power

With proper form and release, two-handers can generate unreal amounts of revolutions and drive for booming strikes. Focus on creating maximum centrifugal force by not overrotating your wrists and keeping your swing path efficient.

Key strategies:

  • Use your hips and footwork to build momentum into the swing.
  • Keep your arms relaxed but very much in sync together.
  • Release like firing a cannon – get out of the way and let the ball rev.

Managing Lane Conditions

The bane of many two-handers is heavy oil patterns that don’t allow enough ball revolutions to create shape and drive through the deck. You have to make adjustments based on how the current conditions are challenging your motion.

If seeing over/under reactions, don’t be afraid to move farther inside or outside to change your launch angle and cover boards differently up front. Switching ball weights or covers to suit the pattern is also key.

Spare Conversions

One area two-handers excel is in converting spares. Since both hands guide the ball on an extremely straight plane, aligning for better-angled leave shots is simplified. However, you still need to control hand speed and axis rotation.

For most two-handers, aiming for parallelish launch angles through the pocket works best on spare attempts. Use your trail hand to slow the ball’s speed slightly if needed.

Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Even veteran two-handed bowlers can fall victim to bad habits and improper technique that derail consistency and scoring. Beware of these mistakes:

Illegal Motions

The most egregious issue is using illegal techniques like taking one hand off prematurely or trying to generate extra hook with your off-hand alone. Pay careful attention to keeping both hands on until release.

Timing, Balance Issues

If your feet and body aren’t properly synchronized, you’ll develop destructive timing, balance, and leverage problems. Lock in that pendulum stroke and keep your head centered over your sliding foot.

Overcompensating on Rotation

There’s a tendency for two-handers to overrotate their shoulders and arms in an attempt to generate more revolutions. This actually places restrictions on your swing radius. Maintain a free, loose arm swing instead.

Strain and Injury Risks

Because of the violent force and body leverages involved, two-handed bowling places stress on areas like wrists, elbows, and shoulders if you fail to use proper technique and exercise appropriate muscular support.

In particular, taking improper steps that plant your foot ahead of the sliding leg is a fast road to knee pain and damage. Always slide into release.

Mental Game Challenges

Finally, two-handers can suffer from overanalyzing after missed shots due to the technical complexity of their style. A slight mistiming or balance issue can send the ball drastically off-line. This psychological hurdle leads to bouts of over-thinking and self-doubt creeping into your mental approach.

The best two-handed bowlers maintain a process-focused, present mindset. Rather than dwell on the outcome of any individual shot, stay committed to executing your pre-shot routine and mechanics with full attention on each delivery. Trust that consistently repeating your fundamentals will yield desired results.

Develop mental cues or triggers that quickly reset your focus if you feel your mind wandering. Take a calming breath, visualize the positive shot you want to make, and simplify your approach thoughts to just the next step in front of you.

Legendary Two-Handed Bowlers to Study

While two-handed bowling may have once been a rarity, a new generation of superstars utilizing this dynamic style has emerged. Studying the unique approaches and techniques of these legendary players can provide invaluable insights:

  1. Jason Belmonte – The Australian trailblazer is considered the pioneer who revolutionized two-handed bowling’s advancement to the highest levels. His remarkably high rev rate and ability to shape shots through demanding patterns are unmatched.
  2. Osku Palermaa – This young Finnish phenom exploded onto the scene and quickly became a multipletime major champion on the strength of his powerful yet articulate two-handed approach and versatility.
  3. Cherie Tan – One of bowling’s bright rising stars, the Singaporean talent generates tremendous hand speed and axis rotation while demonstrating textbook fundamental form with her two-handed delivery.
  4. Kyle Troup – The powerful American pro utilizes a high track, Direct-Line release to consistently strike with tremendous entry angle despite his smaller stature thanks to the two-handed approach.

By carefully observing and modeling aspects of how the game’s elite two-handers execute, aspiring players can accelerate their own development of this intricate style.

The Future of Two-Handed Bowling

With no signs of two-handed bowling’s growth slowing down anytime soon, the continued evolution and integration of this dynamic style into the sport seems inevitable. This progression raises several fascinating future implications:

  • Increasing Adoption and Competition Impact – As more bowlers from the grassroots level upward adopt two-handed forms from early ages, the overall skill and physicality of the participants will dramatically increase. Competitions and scoring numbers could reach new stratospheres.
  • Potential Rule Changes – Governing bodies may opt to further update equipment specifications or even explore implementing distinct divisions to accommodate the different playing styles. This could level certain competitive playing fields.
  • Rise of Specialized Coaching and Training – Just as the baseball pitching motion requires dedicated coaching, two-handed bowling may see growth in technique-specialized coaching and training programs to properly develop players’ skills from the ground up using this style.

Regardless of what the future holds, one truth seems clear – two-handed bowling has immense momentum and is incredibly here to stay as a forces to be reckoned with.


While two-handed bowling may have once seemed like an outlier or gimmick, the modern game has wholeheartedly embraced this dynamic, high-rev style.

By understanding the official rules, developing sound fundamental form, crafting tailored strategies, and studying the absolute best, you can unlock your own scoring potential with this powerful approach.

Always remember to focus on executing consistent, repeatable mechanics without sacrificing legal delivery. Use appropriate equipment and training to avoid injury pitfalls.

When you struggled, reset your mental approach by simplifying your process thoughts. Lastly, continue analyzing the masters to gain new insights into maximizing your two-handed abilities.

With dedicated practice, a willingness to make adjustments, and an understanding of two-handed bowling’s unique nuances, you can harness this captivating style to raise your level and truly excel on the lanes. The decade of two-handed dominance may just be getting started.