The subject of this discussion may seem to be less important than many of the other topics we cover on our site. It’s true that for most people most of the time the biggest consideration when trying to improve your bowling game is things like your ball and your shoes. But if you neglect other details you are potentially leaving out other simple things that can be incorporated into your game to help you improve even more.
So, even if it’s not the most important thing, don’t you still want to take advantage of this opportunity? All it takes is a little consideration. Other than that, there’s really nothing difficult about exploring some of these other options. Bowling tapes are also sometimes referred to as bowling thumb protector tape, or bowling grip tape.
As these names imply, there are a couple of primary uses for this piece of bowling gear. One of its purposes is to protect your thumb and/or your fingers while you bowl. The other main purpose is to help you improve your grip on the ball. While these are the two main purposes for bowling grip tape there are others as well. For example, if you stack the tape, it can help you get a perfect fit for your fingers in the finger holes of the ball.
Also, with the main uses for this tape come certain added benefits that we would also like to discuss today. We find that this is often true for anything that provides you with convenience, comfort, or any other added performance. Good things often lead to other good things. Let’s start by talking about the protective benefits of bowling tape.
If you are a casual bowler then you may not see a need for something that protects your fingers while you’re bowling. But many of our readers enjoy bowling so much that they often go many times a week. Our hope is also that while many of our readers may not be serious bowlers now, they may be motivated and inspired to bowl more often as they read our blog and interact more with us as a community. For those of you who have, or will bowl frequently, you may already see the potential benefit of using protective bowling tape.
Every time you toss a ball your fingers rub the inside of the finger holes on your bowling ball. Fortunately, balls are made out of materials that can be buffed to a very fine smoothness even on the inside surface of finger holes. But, even with the smoothest surfaces the repeated rubbing action of your fingers in the holes can eventually lead to irritation on your fingers. For most people this is most prominent for your thumb, but it can be an issue with any of your three fingers. Actually, the fact that the inside surface of bowling ball finger holes are so smooth can be precisely what contributes to finger irritation.
Because the surfaces are so smooth, your fingers are more apt to slide around along them. The more sliding there is the more irritation there will be. When you use protective bowling tape it causes your fingers to stay put in the finger holes until you release the ball. It’s true that grip tape has a rougher surface than the bare surface of the finger holes, so if your fingers were to rub against this surface as much as it normally rubs against the inside surface of the finger holes your fingers will probably get even more irritated than they would without the tape. However, because the purpose is to keep your fingers in a fixed position until you release the ball this usually isn’t a problem.
As we mentioned before, there are additional benefits that offshoot from the primary benefits in many cases. The example of the finger protection that is provided by bowling tape is a case in point. Imagine that you are a frequent bowler and that for a period of time you bowl so often that your thumb has become irritated to the point of developing a blister on the pad of your thumb. Having a blister, of course, isn’t a huge deal. It’s not an injury that will cause any real harm or permanent damage. But there is one huge drawback to having even this minor issue.
If you continue to bowl with the blister, it’s only going to get worse. It will never get better if you don’t let it heal. However, letting the blister heal takes some time. Sure, it doesn’t take as much time as letting a broken bone heal, but it does cause an inconvenience. Say it takes two weeks for the blister to heal to the point where you can bowl again. If you’re serious about getting your practice in, then being sidelined for two solid weeks can put a serious wrench in your plans. If you are right in the middle of a practice program and have to take a two-week break, you will never get that two weeks back. Chances are that if you’ve been bowling so much that you developed a blister, then that means that you are in a phase of serious bowling practice.
This could be an opportunity that may not always be available. We are all busy, so when we set our mind to practicing our bowling hobby seriously, it is important for us to give ourselves every chance to capitalize on that opportunity. If we squander the chance because of something like a blister, which is totally avoidable with some protective bowling tape we may be kicking ourselves down the road for not having a little bit more foresight. There are some of us that may not kick ourselves too much over it. We may say that it’s not a huge deal to lose two weeks of practice time. But I would argue that this attitude is not appropriate for somebody that is really serious about improving their game.
We may not all be Olympians, and bowling may be just a hobby for us, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take it seriously. If we had to justify doing anything seriously by aiming to do it in the Olympics, then there would be little incentive to be serious about anything. Plus, in the case of bowling, I’m pretty sure it’s not an Olympic sport anyway, so this is all the more true.
Even if you’re able to wait two weeks for your blister to heal, or maybe it even if it heals in one week, you never know what else is going to happen. Maybe at the end of that one week your kid will get sick and you have to take care of them at home for another week. Maybe your boss at work will make you responsible for a special project that forces you to work late every day for another two weeks. Maybe the pipes in your house will get clogged and you will have a surprise home project on your hands. All of these things can get in the way of us enjoying our favorite hobbies, and that’s why it’s worthwhile to take them seriously.
When life happens it’s easy for us to say that it can’t be helped and that we have to tend to the requirements of our daily lives no matter how time-consuming they may become. It’s normal for us to drop everything to take care of our child, or to take care of our house, or to take care of our work especially. But I ask you to take a minute to stop and think about how often this happens. Like me, you may find that you are almost constantly bombarded by responsibilities that you can’t avoid. This constant bombardment leads to a constant de-prioritization of activities to be enjoyed in your leisure time.
We have mentioned this concept in other discussions as well, but because our site discusses bowling, which is a leisure activity, it’s worth mentioning again. We believe that it is important for all of us to prioritize activities that we enjoy, and to prioritize providing ourselves with leisure time. While this may be true, we are not naïve to the realities of daily life. We understand that most of us have family responsibilities and the need to work hard to earn a living. It is often difficult if not impossible to strike an ideal balance between responsibility and leisure. While this balance is difficult to find it is important to continually strive toward.
That’s why it’s that much more important to pay attention to details. That’s why we’re spending so much time talking about something as seemingly insignificant as bowling protective tape. But we hope that you understand that even these types of details can be the determining factor between success and failure in your pursuit of balance between work and leisure.
Let’s get back to talking about the benefits of protective bowling tape. To follow up, another reason that your fingers may become irritated while bowling is that the finger holes in your bowling ball will cause more strain on your fingers if they’re too big. If the holes are too big you will have to use more strength to grip the ball without it slipping from your grip too soon. This added strain can make your arm muscles, and your hand muscles fatigued. The added grip takes this strain off of your fingers. When you aren’t straining so hard you can also control your movements much better. You may find that you are not only more comfortable when you are using bowling tape but your scores may see an improvement as well.
The tape doesn’t only provide you with additional grip. Because it is an additional object inside of the finger holes, naturally it reduces the amount of space in the holes. So, if your finger holes were a little bit too big then using tape can help make them fit more snuggly while also providing better grip. If you need to take advantage of the space occupying benefit of the tape even more, most tapes can be stacked on top of itself so that it will make the finger holes even smaller.
You may have realized at this point that there is a potential disadvantage to the fact that bowling tape takes up space in your finger holes. While it helps if the holes are too big, conversely, you can also cause the holes to become too small if the holes in your ball already fit quite snuggly. This is a more significant problem than if the holes are a little bit too big because it’s not that easy to make holes bigger than they already are. So, if you want more grip in your finger holes but you don’t have extra space to put tape into them it may be kind of a difficult situation. With this in mind, when you buy your bowling ball, it may be worth planning for this ahead of time.
We realize though, that planning this ahead of time in this way may not be that simple. For example, if you have never owned your own bowling ball before, how are you to know whether you like using bowling protective tape or not? After all, it’s not practical to test whether you like it or not in a ball that you don’t own yourself. If you are still relatively new to bowling and you usually rent your ball at the bowling alley it’s likely that you have never used bowling grip tape before. And if you do decide to buy a ball having never used bowling tape in the past, you are not likely to plan ahead for putting it into your bowl before buying it. There may not be a perfect solution to this conundrum. All we can say is that we hope you find some way to try using bowling tape in whatever ball you use to see how it works for you. Then, in the future you can plan ahead accordingly.
One idea that you can consider is using a friend’s ball. Many of us got better at bowling, and got better at a lot of things, by doing it with other people and friends that were already into the activity. A lot of times, these friends were better than we were at the time that we started. People that are helping you get started in a hobby that they love themselves are often more than happy to do little things that might help you along the way. Allowing you to try bowling with a ball that already has some tape in it is a perfect example of a small thing that a friend can do to help you figure out how to improve your game.
When you’ve decided on getting some bowling tape to use in your ball you will then need to decide what type you want to get. You will find when you do a search for it that there are a number of different types. There are two basic categories of bowling tapes that you can buy. The first type is made in individual pieces that are oval shaped so that you can place them in your ball finger holes one at a time. The other type comes in a roll. With the roll, of course, you can use as much or as little as you want. Personally, I’ve always preferred buying the rolls because it allows me to use the exact amount that I want.
I often found that the pre-sized oval shaped bowling tapes were more than what I needed. So, I would end up cutting them in half only using the grip tape on the deepest parts of my finger holes to get the grip on the ends of my fingers. So, instead of buying the sized tapes and cutting them in half, it made more sense to just buy the rolls. But there is a reason that there is more than one style available. Some people like one style and some people like another.
Another thing that I found is that there is such a thing as using too much grip tape. Aside from the fact that it can constrict the amount of space that you have in your finger holes, it can make it harder to release the ball than you want. I found that having the grip tape all the way down along my fingers made it harder for me to effortlessly release the ball exactly when I wanted to. This issue isn’t caused only by the quantity of bowling tape used. It can also be caused by the amount of roughness on the tape.
When I have the grip tape contacting only my fingertips it gives me exactly what I need. It keeps the ball securely in my hand, but also allows me to release exactly when I want to. It took some time for me to figure out what I was most comfortable with, and it is likely that this will be true for you too. Fortunately, most of the tapes that you will find advertise that they are easily removable. This fact helps you experiment with different types, different sizes, and different amounts.
While it’s great for the tape to be removable there can be drawbacks to this fact. You may find that if the adhesive isn’t strong enough, the tape may come off from inside the finger holes when you don’t want it to. This may sound like a small problem but it can be incredibly frustrating. Imagine trying to put these pieces of sticky tape into your finger holes. The holes aren’t that big, obviously they are no bigger than your fingers. And, if you’re like me, you want to get the grip tape to make contact with the ends of your fingers. This means that you have to get the tape into the deepest part of the finger holes.
When you’re trying to get the tape into the holes it often gets stuck to parts of the hole walls before you get it all the way down to where you want it to be. The best solution that I’ve found for this is to stick the tape onto a skewer. You probably have some of these in your kitchen already. You can use a wooden skewer or a metal skewer that you may have used on the barbecue. If you own an air fryer you probably got some of these with it. So, you can dig through your box and pull them out. You may find these to be handy in an unexpected way!
When you stick the tape to the skewer, lower the skewer with the tape all the way into the finger hole. And then with another skewer hold the tape down to the surface of the finger hole while you unstick the tape from the first skewer. Then use both of them to rub the tape into place and secure it to the wall of the finger hole. You may need a flashlight to see what you’re doing while you do this. I find that a headlamp can be pretty handy when doing things like this because both of your hands will be occupied with the bowling tape.
Before you put the tape into every finger hole you may want to experiment with which holes you actually want to have it in. You may find that you only really need or want extra grip on your middle and ring fingers. Again, additional grip can be incredibly helpful but too much grip can make things more difficult too. So instead of putting it in every hole and then figuring out that you want it only in some of them put it in one, try it, and go from there.
Also, to address the problem that we mentioned a minute ago with removable tapes, if you find that the tape won’t stay securely in the bowling ball, you may want to secure them with additional adhesive. But, be sure to determine exactly how much, in which holes, and what types of tape do you want to use before doing this because depending on the type of adhesive you use it may be quite difficult to remove it after you’ve put it inside.
Because talking about protective bowling tape is one of the less common discussions when it comes to bowling, we are that much more interested in hearing about what do you think, and hearing about your own experiences with this handy piece of gear. We look forward to your comments, stories and ideas.