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The Success and The Failures of Lefthanders in Sports

Why Not More Lefthanded Bowlers?

Bowling is one of our country’s most popular recreational activities, and the American Bowling Congress estimates that seventy-million Americans bowl at least once a year.  Since bowling lanes and pin placement are symmetrical, and there are no visible obstacles on the left sides of the lanes, one could assume that lefthanded people are just as likely to bowl as righthanders.  This would mean at least seven-million lefthanders bowl at least once a year, but this estimate is probably too high.  While many lefthanders like bowling and are good at it, the majority of them have a rough time getting started.

The first problem facing lefthanded children is getting adults to let them try to bowling lefthanded, and to keep bowling lefthanded.  Then they face the problem of their fingers hurting in the standard bowling balls offered at the bowling alley, because they are all drilled for the fingers of the right hand.  If a lefthander really wants to continue bowling, they will need to purchase their own bowling ball with the holes drilled at the proper angle for their left hand and fingers.  This is no more difficult or expensive than a ball drilled for the right hand, but the problems is often in convincing parents that it is needed.

Once a lefthanded bowler finds a ball that fits their hand and fingers comfortably, they can take the next steps in their bowling career.  Which steps (or which foot) comes first, can be more difficult for lefthanders because there is often no lefthanded example to follow, while righthanders almost always have other righthanders to watch and learn from.  Bowling instruction books offer detailed text and diagrams on bowling righthanded, but rarely has anything been written for lefthanders.  Most bowling instructors are good at teaching the right way to bowl, but not so good at teaching the left way.

Taking those steps properly also requires lefthanded bowling shoes, made with the left shoe as the “traction” shoe and the right foot as the “sliding” shoe.  These shoes should not be any more expensive than the righthanded shoes, but they may be harder to find, and again the problem can be convincing the parents that it is really necessary.  And while they are shopping, they might also need to look for a left hand bowler’s wrist support.

Some people think that lefthanders have an advantage in bowling, because the left side of the lane is not used as often as the right side.  Therefore, the lane is less grooved, providing a more-true roll for a lefthanded bowler.  There have even been complaints by righthanders in some tournaments about this so-called lefthanders advantage.  Most lefthanders don’t feel they have an advantage, but they enjoy seeing righthanders feeling disadvantaged.

With better instruction and more encouragement, many more lefthanded children would begin to learn and enjoy bowling.  There would be even more lefthanders growing up to become regular bowlers and maybe even professional bowlers.  Bowling is a game where individual talents have a chance to shine, and lefthanded people can show that they have as much talent as righthanders do.  It is also a game that all ages can plan, and it is never too late to learn.