Gutters, Twigs, Bank Shots, and Sucker Bets – Part 3

Chalk up your cue and learn to play the bank

Gutters, Twigs, Bank Shots, and Sucker Bets - Part 3

I borrow the term “bank shot” from billiards, where sometimes you have to shoot a ball into a side rail and bank it off to make a play. Often the best play in bowling is to bank the ball off the one board. I know there is no actual bank like there is on a pool table but, as a rule, the first board has comparably little oil. Modern resin bowling balls will often bounce off that very dry first board as if it were the cushion on a pool table. We can use that cushion as a safety margin or to burn up some of the ball’s energy. One of your tasks in the practice session before the tournament starts is to find out if the one board will bank.

How to play the bank

Unlike playing the twig where we want the ball to go parallel to the gutter, with the bank shot we actually want to throw the ball “at” the gutter. Returning to our analogy to pool or billiards, skilled players can shoot the cue ball into a side rail to hit an object ball that is blocked by another ball; essentially going around the blocking ball. To perform these shots properly the cue ball must contact the rail at just the right angle and spin (referred to as applying “English”).

A skilled bank shot artist can do the same thing with a bowling ball and, just as with pool, the angle of attack and spin (axis rotation) are critical. We are not trying to go around anything with the bank shot; instead we are looking for the best way to burn up rotational energy to create lots of forgiveness and a great angle to the pocket.

An example of a bank shot would have your bowling ball cross the second arrow and go out to the one board 38 feet down the lane, then bank off the one board and head toward the pocket. I call this banking the ball off the gutter, and NO, you don’t usually have to actually hit the one board. Most of the time when the bank shot is the best way to play the lane, the first ...

Ron Clifton

About Ron Clifton

Ron Clifton has been coaching at the professional level for 15 years. He conducts “Advanced Bowler Training Clinics” across the U.S. and is the inventor and manufacturer of Ron C’s Magic Carpet for thumbholes. Ron can be found on the web at