Loaded vs Unloaded Wrist

Here’s an advanced follow-on from the earlier article, Are You Making Hand Adjustments the degree of loading or unloading of the wrist.

This goes back to most of us really knowing how to release the ball one way.
The frustration really settles in when even your equipment meant for dry lane conditions acts like it’s superman! We’ve got to learn to be versatile and this is where this topic comes in.

Unloading means breaking back one’s wrist, i.e., bending the back of one’s hand toward the back of their forearm.

Generally speaking, you won’t impart as many RPMs on the shot, but this method of delivery will allow you to play a section of the lane that would have otherwise been off limits due to the condition.

One example of when this can be employed would be when the track is really dry, yet the outside is out of bounds and the inside is moving to much. It is especially difficult if even your “weakest” equipment is too aggressive in the track. In this instance, using an unloaded wrist will allow you to naturally reduce your revs, thereby allowing you to use a slightly more aggressive piece of equipment in the track which happens to be the best line to the pocket on that night. This is when the ball and lanes to all the work.

Another example would be if the track is really dry, the outside is dry and the inside is flooded. Again, you could use an unloaded wrist position in the track or outside. You could use a loaded position inside if you are inclined. Additionally, of course you can and should consider the right piece of equipment. Nowadays with the conditions being drier than ever seemingly, Urethane is an option. You do give up some backend “forgiveness” because Urethane will not give you that strong backend motion with a typically higher entry angle given by Reactives. You just need to consider our options.

A great example of this is Norm Duke, who shot a 300 game playing the extreme outside with his hand in an unloaded position, essentially, using his spare shot delivery. He tends to increase his ball speed when he employs this strategy.

Also, Norm has been known to move inside and load up on the shot, when he decides that outside the second arrow is not an option. Two to three years ago, he made a move inside (4th arrow) in the title match and he hadn’t played inside of the 2nd arrow all week. It was a gutsy move, one that helped him win the tournament. The point is he changed his method of delivery, and one of the changes he made was loading up, besides decreasing his ball speed.

The unloaded hand position may contribute to losing the ball early on the downswing, in other words dropping it. This is the result of the thumb facing the floor as one gets to the point of release on their downswing. The ball may come off prematurely.
On the opposite side, the loaded hand position may contribute to grabbing the ball, yielding a tugged and lofted shot. To combat this, a relaxed pendulum swing is helpful, particularly on the downswing. If the swing is muscled at all and you load up your shot, the likelihood of it being grabbed is increased significantly.

That should do it.
This is an advanced technique that should be practiced a lot before using in competition. You want to be extremely comfortable is such an adjustment and your accuracy and consistency.

Hey, it’s still summer and it’s hot out here in the Northeast! Get in from the heat to some AC and practice!

Good luck.

Thanks to John G for his contribution to this article.

One thought on “Loaded vs Unloaded Wrist”

  1. Your welcome Coach T!

    One other thing worth mentioning about loading and unloading is that recently, I found out it’s much easier to load up on a shot with a tight fitting thumbhole. This may seem counter intuitive but actually it makes sense. I tighter thumbhole will require less grip pressure, so one should be able to more smoothly release the ball at the bottom of their swing. Case in point is Chris Barnes, who has a noticeable loaded wrist position in his stance. Occasionally, he will balk during his approach, stop and return to attempt the shot again. When he does, he practically has to pry his thumb out of his thumbhole. Nevertheless, on every shot he throws, he smoothly feeds the ball into the lane.

    The flip side of this is having a more loose thumbhole for the unloaded delivery. Our grip pressure will increase, which will promote, or help us, unload the shot as we deliver it.

    A tip to help us load or unload is to add tape to our thumbholes on the loaded shot and remove tape on the unloaded shot. The only other thing I can add is be careful not to acquire a tight swing on the unloaded shot, which can happen as our grip pressure increases. Once our triceps tend to tighten up as our grip pressure increases. When this happens, our swing won’t be the same and a host of other issues may result, so be sure to practice these techniques until they become second nature.

    I hope this helps and I agree, bowling in the summer means going indoors where there is some A/C. Here in the northeast it gets so humid, being outside can be unbearable.

    Happy bowling!

    John Gugliotta, Jr.

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