Bowling has undergone several changes in technique and technology since its introduction, from the type of material used in the ball (i.e., from wood to reactive materials) to the way of holding it (i.e., from palming it to holding it through the finger holes). Not all of these changes have been welcomed without controversy and the latest may well be two-handed bowling.
In many ways, two-handed bowling has polarized the sport like nothing ever has, partly because we live in the Age of Social Media. Nearly every Tom, Dick and Harry who has ever played a game at Brunswick will likely have an opinion about it, often either for it or against it.
Who is responsible, so to speak, for the introduction of such a polarizing change in bowling? In 2009, Jason Belmonte, an Australian professional player, won his first-ever PBA championship at The Bowling Foundation Long Island Classic. He did so partly on the strength of his then-novel two-handed bowling and he is now either considered as a hero or a villain of the sports depending on whom you ask.
Not Illegal but Not Acceptable Either
But let’s not be hasty in blaming Belmonte entirely for the controversial move because two-handed bowling isn’t illegal in the books. This has been confirmed by bowling’s national governing body, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC).
Instead, the controversy is kept alive by the debates between the traditionalists – purists, if you will – and the non-traditionalists. Both sides aren’t budging on their stand so this is a debate that will likely rage on for several more years before two-handed bowling can be either be completely accepted or totally banned.
So, what’s the deal? According to traditionalists like PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss, it’s akin to a slow cancer that’s killing the already diseased sport. The main contentions here are that: first, it creates an accelerated progression; and second, it provides more spin. For these reasons, two-handed bowling is an unfair advantage against bowlers who have spent years honing their one-handed technique.
For PBA Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr., however, two-handed bowling is a significant improvement for the sport and so he has added it to his toolkit. He further says that it’s part of the evolution of the sport – and we can say that it’s a welcome one in a game many non-bowlers say is mired in its own traditions.
Many USBC coaches are also teaching two-handed bowling and its techniques to their players and students. It’s an efficient playing style, after all.
What do you think of two-handed bowling?