Sarge Easter Grip

By Kevin Bickel

Sarge Easter Grip

The Sarge Easter grip is a less commonly used ball grip in which the middle finger is drilled fingertip and the ring finger is drilled conventional or semi-fingertip. You may have heard someone talking about this grip, seen someone using it, or seen it on TV. It is not widely known or used, but the Sarge Easter grip has significant advantages. We’ll discuss the pros and cons, who uses it, and how to make the switch.

Pros & Cons

Much of this list will be based on my personal experience with the Sarge Easter grip. I made the switch to Sarge Easter in the Fall of 2012 and haven’t looked back. Here are some of the benefits I have experienced:

Pros

  • More comfortable grip – The overall feeling has been much more comfortable than traditional fingertip. I feel much more overall control over the ball than before.
  • Improved axis rotation – Prior to switching to Sarge Easter, I was having problems with the ball rolling over my thumb hole. Since switching, my axis tilt and rotation has changed such that rolling over my thumb hole is no longer a problem.
  • Turning the ball later – Perhaps contributing to my thumb hole issue was that I had a tendency to turn my wrist too early at my release. Using the Sarge Easter grip helped me to turn the ball later in my release and to stay inside of the ball better.
  • Less tension – Many people switch to Sarge Easter out of necessity or due to injury to relieve tension off of their ring fingers.
  • It’s different – This isn’t a reason alone to switch, just a benefit of switching. If you are in a rut or are constantly having issues with your grip, try something new.

Cons

  • Adjusting – Getting used to something new is always a challenge and this is no exception. It will likely take months to fully adjust to the new grip before you are fully comfortable.
  • Experimenting – Unfortunately, you probably won’t get the feel correct on the first ball you drill. Or the second one. See below for more details on making the switch.
  • New problem area – Until you get the feel right, there is going to be some rubbing around the second knuckle of your ring finger. This will probably cause some cuts and calluses at first.
  • Questions and comments – This isn’t really a con, but I have gotten a lot of questions and even more less-than-useful comments. Just a heads up.

Making the Switch

3 Balls Sarge Easter Grip

This is a big commitment to make for your game. As we know, bowling balls don’t come cheap these days. Do yourself a favor and try it out before jumping in with both feet.

If you have an old ball laying around that you’ve deemed useless, pull it out of retirement. If not, try and ask friends or fellow league members for an old ball. Someone is bound to have one they have no use for. Once you have your ball, head to the pro shop and have the driller measure out a conventional or semi-fingertip span for your ring finger (or just tell him you want to experiment with Sarge Easter; he/she should know what to do).

If you are using your own old ball, you have a couple options. You could either have the driller punch out a conventional hole right below your fingertip hole, or you could have him plug the ring finger first. If you will never use the ball again, go with the first option. It’s cheaper and faster. If you acquired a ball that wasn’t yours, you’ll likely have to plug and re-drill all 3 holes.

As I stated earlier, the first drilling won’t be perfect. You will have to experiment with the size of the hole, tape, beveling, pitch, position, etc. Some of these things, like pitch and position, you can’t just change, so you’ll have to roll quite a few games with your test ball and make note of areas with too much pressure, too much rubbing, etc.

The key to a good fitting Sarge Easter grip is communication with your ball driller. Whether that means communicating the issues and getting advice from him or telling him exactly what to do to the 1/16th of an inch, make sure you communicate. I wasn’t comfortable enough to plug and re-drill my arsenal until my 3rd experimental ball. If you do decide to make the switch, be aware that it is not immediate.

There is a misconception that the Sarge Easter grip decreases rev rates. As is the nature of misconceptions, this is not entirely true. Your rev rate will likely decrease at first while you are adjusting to the new feel, but will go back to normal once you are used to it.

 Professionals who use the Sarge Easter Grip

Have any questions about the Sarge Easter grip? Have your own Sarge Easter experience to share? Comment below and let us know.

10 Comments

Maynard Goplen

I have bowled since 1957, have used the Sarge
Easter all the time, broke the end knuckle on
right hand ring finger, playing baseball, didn’t
know at that time it was called Sarge Easter
grip. I like and it feels great.

Reply
dimsim

hey guys just want to know, will the sarge easter grip be good to get a bit more revs, or will it help to stay behind the ball at all, thanks.

Reply
Kevin Bickel

Hey there!
From my experience, the Sarge Easter grip won’t help you get revs. I found that right after I switched, my revs went down slightly, then went back up to what they were previously once I got used to it.
I did find that the grip helped me stay behind the ball more. I used to have a problem with turning the ball too early and rolling over the thumb hole but since I switched I don’t have that problem any more.
Hope this helps!

Reply
dimsim

yeah thanks I have that problem too of turning my wrist too early, that’s why I had a look a the grip. thanks a lot.

Reply
Jon Aker

I’m so glad I came across this article! I’m considering trying a Sarge Easter grip, but wasn’t sure whether it would help. I’m left handed and have always used a standard fingertip grip. Was averaging mid-220’s last January, then hurt the ring finger side of my wrist at the gym. The orthopedist said it was a muscle pull and it would heal with six weeks off. Took 8 months off…still in pain. I’ve tried wrist braces, strengthening exercises, painkillers, and dropping to 14 pound equipment. Nothing has helped…except that I started bowling right handed just to be able to bowl again… 🙂 Being that you have experience with the drilling, do you think that a Sarge Easter would take sufficient pressure off the injured part of my wrist so that I could finally get back to bowling left handed? Thanks for any advice!

Reply
Kevin Bickel

Hi Jon,

Sorry to hear about your injury!

If the source of the pain is the pressure from your ringer finger at the point of release, I would say that the Sarge Easter grip would definitely help. Once you get used to not putting pressure on your ring finger, the grip starts to feel natural pretty quickly.

If your wrist pain is resulting from somewhere other than your ring finger then the grip might not do much to help. You’ll still be putting pressure on your wrist to generate revolutions.

If you have an old ball laying around or if you can find one for cheap I say give it a shot! Have you experimented with 2 hands at all?

Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it!

Reply
Jon Aker

Thank you for responding so quickly!

I did try two handed. Seemed like to much effort for me. I’m trying to simplify things as I get older… 🙂

I’m going to visit my local shop tomorrow and try it out with an old ball. Hopefully it helps! I like that I’ve gotten a lot better right handed during this time, but I really want to get back to bowling lefty without pain!

Reply
James Hresko

It’s not so much the benefit of the fingertip with the ring finger, but rather of getting your index finger out of the ball and the pinky in. This way you can’t overturn the ball even if you want to . Works equally well with urethane and plastic, too.

Reply
James Hresko

I have been using the Sarge Easter grip since 1966. I had no trouble adjusting at all. It was recommended because I was always tearing my thumb with a full-fingertip. One added benefit is that if you don’t want to use a separate spare ball, you can easily grip the SE ball with your ring and pinky fingers and the ball will go perfectly straight. I have been using this technique for about 30 years. I showed to ex-touring pro John Mazza several years ago and he started using it with great success. I started using finger grips in BOTH fingers about 30 years ago.

Reply
Kevin Bickel

Hey James. That’s really interesting – I’m going to try that spare technique! What is the benefit of using a fingertip grip in your ring finger?

Reply

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