Over the years, the continent of Australia has been known as the land 'down under'. But when it comes to the creation of athletes, the land down under has brought superstars to the surface.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Aussies led the brigade into the U.S. Tennis market. Names like Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, and John Newcombe were synonymous with winning. Greg Norman led Australia onto the golf scene with a number of masterful performances. And now comes another Aussie, Jason Belmonte, entering the pro bowling scene. In actuality, ladies pro, Carol Gianotti was one of the first high-profile Australian bowlers, but Belmonte has burst onto the scene not only as a representative from the Australian continent, but he's also sporting a dynamic innovation on the tenpin bowling scene--the two-handed delivery. Just as tennis icon and legend, Jimmy Connors, brought the two-handed backhand into the game and set a new standard for tennis, Belmonte's new style is a drastic change from the conventional hook-ball thrower, and is quite possibly establishing a new benchmark for high-revs in bowling.
Although Belmonte's style bucks tradition and is new to the tenpin bowling world, the sport of duckpin bowling is not surprised at such a variation, as the 2-handed delivery has been witnessed on the duckpin pro tour since the mid-1980s. In the modern small-ball bowling era, the first player to use a 2-handed delivery in professional competition was trailblazer Eddie Wirt. Wirt carried a 140+ duckpin average in numerous years of league play and was a member of the duckpin Pro Tour. Noted for extreme accuracy, Eddie perfected his unorthodox style while laying the ball almost directly down on the foul line and into a roll. As time has progressed, two other young superstars in the duckpin game have mastered the 2-hand bowling motion, breaking the '140 average' barrier--James Taylor and Chris Harwood. Taylor made a splash on the pro tour, and nearly won an event at Riviera Bowl in Pasadena, MD back in 2001, finishing runner-up to Bryce Kasalonis. Laurel, Maryland's, Chris Harwood uses the 2-handed delivery, and has been a force in professional events since the mid to late 1990s. A tremendous talent, Harwood is the premier 2-hander in duckpins at the present time. It should be emphasized that Chris is known as a sharpshooter just as his predecessor Wirt, demonstrating superior accuracy with spares, and at times has been known to string strikes--his most recent highlight occurring in the last game of the qualifying round at Hagerstown's Long Meadow Bowl in 2009, when he climaxed his 8-game block with a sensational 5-bagger en route to a 222 game.
Being on the unconventional side, the 2-handed style in bowling does require developing this method in the early stages of a bowler's development, as it can be very taxing on a person's anatomy (especially the back) if attempted after a player is accustomed to a one-handed delivery.
|Tenpinner Jason Belmonte|
(Photos courtesy PBA LLC)
|Duckpinner Chris Harwood|
Shown here are the tenpin and duckpin pros' similar approaches using the 2-hand method. The major difference in the 2 bowlers is that Belmonte's tenpin delivery generates an extreme number of side-revolutions on the bowling ball, allowing it to curve at the desired point down the lane, thus optimum for striking. Harwood's ball reaction, when compared to Belmonte's rotation, appears to be more of a flat delivery, as duckpins demands a different line to the headpin when attempting to procure consistency on the object pin. The 2 bowlers look very similar from the front as we analyze their deliveries, although there's a distinct difference when viewing them from behind. If you were to watch videos of the 2 bowlers from the rear, you'd notice that Belmonte's left-hand gives the impression of functioning as a support guide from the side of the ball, as his right hand ultimately generates the rotation, while Harwood's right and left hand stay with the ball all the way through his roll.
While the bowling motions of these talented players appear unorthodox, there's no arguing the results they have achieved. Just another remarkable example of how everyone is different, and if positive numbers and statistics are generated, no one can say that there's a right way and wrong way to roll a bowling ball.
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