Article Contents

  • 1. Gutter shot
  • 2. Straight shot
  • 3. Down and in shot
  • 4. Inside line
  • 5. Deep inside line
  • 6. Deep, deep inside shot

Those who can change hand positions enjoy a distinct advantage over those with limited skills. In last month’s issue, I addressed the amount of hook required to be successful. Any hook that carries out the 5 pin is considered a quality shot, regardless of the amount of boards the ball covers… that is, provided the ball is delivered with accuracy.

Strike shots can be produced from numerous angles. Laydown points can vary from the first to the 39th board, depending on the amount of hook the player desires and is able to execute. One of the most important aspects of sound fundamental bowling is a good release, which depends on placing the ball well back into the hand. At the release point, the thumb exits quickly, the weight of the ball is transferred to the fingers, and the fingers project the ball INTO the lane.

Bowling has certainly had its share of players who have accomplished the art of changing hand positions to achieve maximum hook, medium hook, end-over-end roll, or straighten out a shot. Two of the greatest players in the game, Chris Barnes and Norm Duke, honed their skills through grueling match game competition.

Duke’s versatility can be traced to his innate ability to alter hand positions at any given opportunity. Chris Barnes, generally regarded by his peers as the most complete player in the game, can also attribute his meteoric rise to stardom to his mastery of hand positions.

There are six major paths to the 1-3 pocket:

  • Gutter Shot
  • Straight  Shot
  • Down and In Shot
  • Inside Line
  • Deep Inside Line
  • Deep-Deep Inside Line

Gutter shot

The gutter shot is one of the most intricate shots in the game. It requires steel nerves and precise accuracy and is a very effective weapon when executed properly. The gutter shot, unheard of until Jim St. John startled the bowling fans in the World’s Invitational Tournament in Chicago in the early 60s, created a new angle to the pocket.

St. John ran roughshod over all opposition playing right of the first and second board, riding the gutter for 30 or 40 feet, then sweeping into the pocket for an overwhelming victory. To prove he wasn’t a fluke, St. John repeated his victory again the following year and set a new standard for years to come.

Despite the fact that a gutter shot can be extremely effective, it can also result in disaster. It is imperative this type delivery be executed with a closed shoulder; that is, the shoulder of the bowling arm must be positioned slightly forward of the non-bowling shoulder. Any ball delivered with the bowling shoulder open, even slightly, will inevitably head for the gutter.  Therein lies the importance of intestinal fortitude for executing this maneuver. In short, gutter shots are not designed for the faint-hearted.

Primarily, the gutter shot is ONLY effective when the outside part of the lane is dry and void of oil. On the PBA tour, only a few bowlers have mastered this type execution. It ...

John Jowdy

About John Jowdy

John Jowdy has been a bowler, author, instructor, and speaker over the last 60 years. He was coach to some of the most successful bowlers on tour. John’s awards and accomplishments include: Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame, ABC and PBA Halls of Fame, International Bowling Coach of the Year. He was a contributing writer for Bowling This Month for 13 years. John Jowdy passed away in 2013 at age 93.