Bowling Tape is a Must for Every Bowler!

If you bowl on a regular basis one of the things that will happen is that your hand will change sizes, especially the thumb for most bowlers, with the hand sometimes being larger or even smaller, and in order to make the fit of the ball feel comfortable you will need to know how to use bowling tape.

The size of the hand can change from many different circumstances, whether it be from food, weather (usually when it’s hotter the hand gets larger but when it’s colder the hand gets smaller), or even putting in more games than usual.

One of the most common mistakes that bowlers make is to put the bowling tape in the wrong place, but there is a method that you can use to make sure you put the tape in the proper place in the thumbhole. Here are a few things that you will need to get started.

1. A grease pencil (your local Bowlersmart pro shop will have one).
2. Any type of tool that you can use to guide the tape into the thumbhole. My preference is to use a screwdriver that is normally used to repair glasses.
3. Black and white tape.

Once you have everything ready, here is how you use this method.

  • Take the grease pencil and wet the tip of it. Don’t be shy about getting the tip pretty wet. It’s actually a benefit if the tip of the pencil is too wet rather than too dry.
  • Once you have the grease pencil wet you will want to rub the tip of it on the front and back of the thumb making sure that it’s in the center of the thumb on both sides.

After you have the markings on your thumb ready you will then want to put your thumb in the thumbhole of the bowling ball while the markings are “still wet”. This will assure a good marking in the thumbhole to show you where the tape will go.

As you have your thumb inside of the thumbhole you will want to rub both the front and the back of the thumb against the walls of the thumbhole while it’s in its natural position inside the hole. The goal is to leave as much of the marks from the grease pencil that you put on your thumb inside the thumbhole as you take your thumb out of the bowling ball.

If you have done the above mentioned processes correctly, when you take your thumb out, you should see the markings up against the walls of the thumbhole on both the front and back of the hole.

These two markings are where you will put the tape inside the thumbhole.

“As a general rule” most players prefer to put the white tape, which has a rougher texture than the black tape in the front of the thumbhole, and the black tape which has a slicker texture in the back of the thumbhole. Again, it’s a general rule and can be modified to what the bowler wants to feel. Now that you know where to put the tape you have to know how to handle the tape.

When it comes to handling the tape of the things that you want to avoid is touching the top of the tape. The more you touch the top of the tape; it can cause the tape to peel away from the thumbhole if you should happen to get oil or dirt on it. It’s much better to peel the tape off of the backing (paper) from the bottom corner.

Once you have completely peeled the tape away from the paper backing you will then want to apply a tool to the tape at the top of the piece of tape.

Once you have applied the tool that you are going to use to insert the tape inside of the thumbhole you will want to take the “edges” of the tape with your thumb and index finger of your other hand and squeeze in lightly to “bow” the tape so that it has a similar look to the roundness/contour of the thumbhole.

You will then want to put the tape “right on top” of the marks that you made in the thumbhole when you started this process, and there are a couple of things you will want to be aware of:

  • The tape should NOT be put at the very top of the hole but down a little bit below the top of the hole. Usually a good starting point is 1/8 of an inch below the surface of the thumbhole.
  • If you need more than one piece of tape you will want to “layer” the tape with one being slightly lower than
    the other. A good image is to layer them as though they are a flight of steps.

The way that you insert the tape on the front of the hole will be the same method that you will use inserting tape at the back of the hole. It does take a little bit of experience to get it comfortable, but this is a method that I’ve used with many players as a great starting point in working with tape, and knowing where to put the tape.

Bill Hall
Bill Hall is a USBC certified coach
, an award winning writer for bowling magazines Bowlers Journal and Bowling This Month.
 Bill is also the designer of the Rejuvenator machine that extracts oil from the modern bowling ball surfaces.
Bill Hall
Bill Hall

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1 Comment
  1. That is probably the best explained procedure of using tape that I’ve ever seen. Very well done. Especially showing how to use the grease pencil to get the spot correctly.

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