As Andrew Swift matured as a bowler, he evaluated every part of his game.
The DeSales senior switched from the traditional one-handed style to bowling with two hands for two reasons: power and control.TWITTER POLL
Read@ThisWeekDave's story on the rise of two-handed#bowling among central Ohio high-schoolers and then answer this poll question.https://t.co/EA7Cj9q9XD— ThisWeek Sports (@ThisWeekSports)December 20, 2019
"I throw it slower, per se, but it has a lot more power on it," Swift said. "There are a lot more (revolutions) on the ball and it really gets through the pins more. It makes the pins fly around to my advantage."
Swift averaged 158.4 pins per game as a sophomore and began experimenting with the two-handed technique that year. His average increased to 195.1 last year and he rolled a 342 two-game series in his first match this season, Dec. 6 against St. Charles at Capri Lanes.
Swift is one of dozens of area bowlers in recent seasons who have begun competing with two hands, a style popularized by Professional Bowlers Association star Jason Belmonte among others.
Bowlers who roll the ball with one hand generally insert the thumb on their dominant hand into the largest hole on a traditional three-hole ball, then place their middle and ring fingers in the two adjacent holes. They hold the ball and then remove their less dominant hand before releasing the ball down the alley.
Two-handed bowlers place their dominant hand under the ball and their less dominant hand on top, bring the ball behind their body and then take the less dominant hand off the ball just before release.>> 5 pros who bowl with two hands <<
"It was definitely very weird at first because I'd never done it. But in all honesty, I got used to it a lot quicker than I expected," said Pickerington Central's Jude Shreffler, a junior who learned the two-handed technique last year from then-senior teammate Travis Allasi. "When I bowled one-handed, I didn't really know how to adjust when I'd pick up pins after I didn't get a strike, so I wouldn't get spares. But two-handed, I could tell where I needed to step and where I should throw it."
Tigers coach Jason Roach estimated that Shreffler's average increased by approximately 50 pins after the switch, but cautioned that the two-handed technique can be "a double-edged sword."
"The more you get the ball to spin, the more pin action you're going to get. The thing is, sometimes it takes a funny turn and leaves weird splits," Roach said. "Sometimes you see strike, split, strike, split and maybe you only score 150 or 160. You can hit five or six strikes in a row, too. Anything is possible. And the (two-) hand bowlers have trouble picking up spares as a result. If you're going to be a two-handed bowler, you really have to practice with single pins and picking up spares."
Belmonte, a native of Australia who has won 22 titles on the PBA Tour since 2008 and has been named its Player of the Year six times since 2012, began rolling the ball with two hands when he was less than 2 years old because the ball was too heavy to lift with one hand.
"Because I generate so many revolutions of the bowling ball, my ball, when it hits the friction part of the lane, wants to curve so much harder and so much more angular than a traditional player," Belmonte told The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman in 2016. "(People) still say, 'You should bowl with one hand. The way you play is not right. It's not the correct way to bowl.' Ultimately, I think it's a good thing because every time someone says I can't or shouldn't do something, it just gives me that little extra push in the back to prove to myself that I can do it and to prove it to them that it's possible."
Delaware bowler Hannah Halstead, a sophomore whose 203.0 average was third best among girls in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference as of Dec. 16, adopted the two-handed technique in much the same fashion as Belmonte.
"She's bowled this way since she was about 3. It was the only way she could bowl. I taught her how to bowl with one hand, but she is more comfortable with two," said Pacers coach Darin Halstead, Hannah's father. "The past three or four years at the state level, it seems like half the (competitors) there are two-handed bowlers. The most difficult thing is adapting to where you need to set yourself for the ball to go to a certain place. You can't necessarily walk to the same spot as you would if you bowled with one hand. It's about experimenting and seeing what you're most comfortable with."
Olentangy coach Jim Brehm noted that the twists of consistently bowling with two hands potentially can take a toll on the body.
"A person has to be really fit and flexible to be able to throw it this way for an extended period of time," Brehm said. "The motion reminds me of throwing a bale of hay some distance without the knee assistance or cast at the end. You don't see too many older folks throwing this way."
Swift's DeSales teammate, senior Isaiah Thomas, has stuck to bowling one-handed for a simple reason: it's all he knows. That was his father's style when Thomas was young and he watched him bowl in leagues, and Thomas feels he has more control with that style.
Thomas was third on the Stallions last season with a 183.6 average, 14 pins better than his sophomore year.
"Wherever I want the ball to go, I just put it there," Thomas said. "I've never tried two-hand so I can't say that wouldn't do the same thing, but I like the comfort of bowling one-handed."