Monday, March 11, 2013

Basics of Bowling Ball Balance

"Symmetrical or asymmetrical, that is the question, whether 'tis more advantageous to have the ball roll down the lane in a smoother arc, or hark, would it cause more strikes that the core be left unbalanced for a more radical plunge to the pocket?

To sleep, perchance to dream of the perfect ball, with the perfect drill, impacting the pocket for the perfect strike, hence, I smile; for life indeed is good - I understand my ball and my average is rising.

--Excerpt from the fantasy, "A Mid-Summer Night's Bowling Dream." by Choc Higa--

Technically, the sport of bowling has become a bit more complicated when talking about bowling balls.

In order to keep improving, a bowler has to learn (and understand) about many specifications.

Some of these are bowling ball balance, cover stocks, oil patterns, hand positions, and targeting methodologies.

However, John Jowdy,  the renowned bowling coach said, "There is nothing in the world that can overcome a badly drilled ball."

Some knowledge with regard to bowling ball balance characteristics is important for any bowler.

A bowling ball is manufactured in sections (there are two-piece and three-piece bowling balls), beginning with the core and ending with the shell, or cover stock.

The core of a bowling ball determines the weight (lighter ones use more foamy materials than the heavier ones) and the shape of the core will make the ball roll smoother.

A symmetrical core (visualize a round one) will roll down the lane in a smoother arc and an asymmetrical core (visualize an oblong one) will tend to be more wobbly.

A football is the best example of this effect because it, in itself, is asymmetrically shaped with respect to a round sphere.

The cover stock is made up of one of four different types of compounds - plastic, urethane, reactive resin, or particle.

Each of these types of compounds plays a part in ball balance and how the ball rolls down the lane – plastic tend to hooks less while reactive resin hooks more.

Plastic balls are the popular choice for “spare balls” because they don't react to oil patterns.

Regardless of where a person bowls, the plastic ball will tend to go straighter than say, a reactive urethane cover stock.

(This negates the need to find where your marks are for shooting spares when the oiling patterns are different.)

A locator pin is a colored, plastic rod that is used to suspend the core of the ball in the mold as the second and maybe, third piece of the ball is poured.

In the final manufacturing process when the surfaces are made smooth, the pin will appear as a circular dot.

This, in effect, marks the center of the core of the ball and therefore, its position is very important when the ball is drilled.

Pin IN, Pin OUT, high or low pin, long pin or short pin, there are numerous variations to be considered so consult with your ball driller to determine the "best layout" for you.

The positive axis point (PAP) is a key to pin placement and has a direct impact on how your ball will roll down the lane.

To find your PAP, locate the first oil ring (circle) around the ball, usually the one closest to the thumb hole.

Find the center of this circle and then go to the point directly opposite to it on the other side of the ball.

As young kids, we used to think it was cool to place a white dot, made by cutting out a piece of tape in a small circle and placing it on the surface of the bowling ball, on the PAP and practice being able to throw our ball without that dot moving (of course, in those days we didn't know it was called the "PAP.")

Anyway, the PAP is generally 3 - 5 inches away from the mid-line of the center of your grip and about 1/2-inch up along the vertical axis line.

There is an excellent video here: (Storm Instructional Series).

Understanding the factors that affect bowling ball balance is a key component of how you'll want your ball to be drilled.

I recently watched a replay of a PBA match and noticed that several of them had their balls drilled with negative pin placements. (Normally, their pins are placed with more positive weight factors.)

Of course, the pros have ball specialists and coaches they consult with throughout their tournaments; however, I would venture to say that they, themselves, also know about ball specs, among other technical details.

There are basically three “types” of bowlers.

The TIGHT-LINE bowler tends to have lower ball speed, less revs, and the ball doesn't cover a lot of boards as it goes down the lane. This person must depend heavily on accuracy and consistency of delivery.

A STROKER hooks the ball more than the tight-line bowler so their revs and ball rotation puts them in the middle category. They can bowl well on a variety of lane conditions.

The CRANKER, at the high end of our bowler types is someone who can generate very high revs and a tremendous amount of hook making them very effective on conditions where there is a lot of oil.

Whichever type you are, or decide to be, keep in mind that each one can be just as effective as the next with the proper practice and having a properly drilled bowling ball.

Don’t be like a lot of bowlers who venture into their local pro shop, buy the nicest looking ball (or the one their friends told them about) and then place their fortunes in the hands of the ball driller.

What other choice do they have if they don't know the basics of bowling ball specifications?

If you’re going to get serious about bowling, you would surely want to learn and understand about what you’re doing when you spend upwards of $150 for a state-of-the-art bowling ball.

I would think so, anyway?

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