Article Contents

  • 1. Not changing your slimy thumbhole tape
  • 2. Not changing your slippery finger grips
  • 3. Not cleaning your greasy, grimy bowling balls
  • 4. Using inconsistent starting points
  • 5. Being close-minded
  • 6. Being fearful
  • 7. Not concentrating
  • 8. Copying other bowlers’ styles
  • 9. Not finding out for yourself

“We all make mistakes.” How many times have we heard this?

Well, there are legitimate mistakes, and then there are “mistaykes,” the kind of boneheaded things we all do from time to time, even though we really ought to know better.

There are many types of mistaykes. Some are mental: we know we should do this, but for some reason we do that. Others are physical: we omit key components of our setup, approach, release, etc., even though we know what we should be doing. The fact is, most mistaykes are the “Duh!” type.  These are usually things we are or aren’t doing, things that, if we stopped and thought for even a few seconds, we’d slap ourselves for and wonder how we ever manage to make our way in the world.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the more common mistaykes we make as bowlers. These are all legitimate – I’ve actually seen (and sometimes done…) all of them.

Not changing your slimy thumbhole tape

One of the most effective bowling aids is white thumbhole tape – the stuff you put in the front of the hole. It’s available in several widths and it provides a consistent and reliable gripping surface. That is, consistent and reliable unless you don’t bother to change it from time to time, in which case you’ll have slimy, yellowed, ineffective grip tape. Ugh.

Change your thumbhole tape as often as necessary. I change mine about every five or six games – if I wait longer, it begins to get slicker and I start dropping or squeezing the ball.

Not changing your slippery finger grips

This one is a cousin of slimy thumbhole tape, and it’s a real puzzler. Joe Bowler comes to my shop to complain about his ball “just not feeling right.” Upon inspection, I see that his soft grips (also known as inserts) were installed quite some time back – maybe during the Reagan administration. They’re dirty, worn down, and as slippery as lane oil. The mistayke here is that this bowler should have remembered that not everything lasts forever…and, in the case of finger grips, that they sometimes don’t even last for more than a couple of weeks.

The functionality of grips is fleeting. New ones have a nice, tacky feel to them, helping to make it easy to grip the ball. With use, though, they lose that tackiness and the bowler then loses “feel” for the ball. Gripping ...

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Phil Regan

About Phil Regan

Phil Regan, a USBC-certified Silver coach, has been teaching bowling since 1964. Retired from corporate life, he coaches bowlers of all levels in the northern California area and competes on the PBA50 and PBA Regional tours. Phil can be found online at