Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Hockey Stick" or "Banana-Shaped" Bowling Ball Arc?

I saw a video on youtube by the "Virtual Bowling Academy." It's a great series of videos with terrific learn-to-bowl tips and suggestions.

One that recently caught my eye talked about the shape of your bowling shot as it moved down the lane.

It compared the shape to a hockey stick and a banana, preferring the "curvy" one to the "snappy" one.

I started looking more carefully into arguments for-and-against this theory and it appears that the "curvy" wins out over "snappy."

It hit close to home when my girlfriend mentioned that she was having a really difficult time controlling her reactive resin ball and she wanted to go back to one that didn't have such radical reactions to the oiling conditions.

Isn't this the biggest problem all bowlers are having with the modern sport of bowling – controlling the reaction of their high tech bowling ball?

Really, when you think about it, the great majority of league bowlers are all about once or twice a week with "decent" averages and scores, one bowling ball, and possibly, one practice session in between league nights.

In the days of less aggressive bowling balls, bowling pro shops used to joke that their most common request was to drill the ball so it would go "lo-o-o-n-g, snap back, and hit like a truck."

That was fine in the days when lanes were oiled from the foul line down to the headpin; but, for the past twenty years or so, oil is placed on the lane considerably less than sixty feet.

I'd like to remind the reader that in the "perfect pocket strike,” the ball makes contact with only the 1-3-5, and 9 pins, after it hits the pins, and if the ball enters the 1-3 pocket at the 17-1/2 board it will result in a strike every time.

New technology has opened up the potential for strikes by going beyond those two “perfect” conditions, causing pins to "fly all over the place" and knock them down in a diverse number of ways.

It also, however, opened up the potential for some radical combinations of pins in seemingly solid hits.

The 4-9 split, light hit 7-10 split, and stone 9's, 8's, and 7's are all too common in the modern game.

It's also made for unlikely spare combinations like the 1-2-6-10, 2-8-10, 3-4-6-7-9-10, and the ubiquitous 4-6-7-9-10, or it's left-hander counterpart, 4-6-7-8-10, commonly referred to as the "Greek Church."

PBA tour and international elite bowlers are migrating to the "straighter is greater" theory and using various methods to counter the "snappy" reaction of their bowling ball arc.

A lot of their balls are drilled neutral or "pin-down" and/or they're using Urethane bowling balls to counter-act the radical ball reactions that occur after the ball leaves the end of the oil pattern.

(Note: The "pin," is the colored dot in the bowling ball that marks the location of the ball core. The term, "Pin-down," indicates that, after drilling, it’s located between the finger and thumb holes.)

I won an Elite Spider Wasp in a raffle on New Year's Eve and had it drilled "pin-down," and plugged and re-drilled my Rogue Cell into a verisimilar style.

I’m using the cover stock properties to make up for the "tamer" drilling pattern. The "pin" to CG (Center of Gravity) line is also in a "tamer" configuration.

I’ve managed to maintain my average but find that I don't need to move very much as the lane dries up.

I also find that I need to be more accurate with my targeting because the banana-shaped arc of my ball doesn‘t allow me to miss by seven boards and expect the ball to return to the pocket as with my reactive resins and "pin-out" balls.

This may work out in the long run because it’s easier to control my ball on the lanes, even as the oil pattern deteriorates.

I’m still learning how, and when, to use my two balls and thus far, I'm encouraged with the results.

As bowlers who can't practice the way the Pros do, as bowlers who only have one bowling ball, and as bowlers who can't replace our reactive resins every time a new model comes out, it make more sense to get to something that takes less "work" in order to have a consistent movement down the lane.

I need to find a combination that will merge the latest technology with an easier tactic to control my ball and simplify my game.

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