Why Is My Ball Doing That

When on challenging oil patterns, do you ever wonder why your ball seems to be hooking early and not finishing as hard as usual?

On a THS(typical house shot), the oil is applied significantly less towards the outer portion of the lane and drastically increased on the inner portion of the lane. On a THS, you can always migrate towards the inner portion of the lane to find more skid. This increased skid allows for the ball to float easier down the lane into the drier boards to the outside and in the back end of the lane.

This is NOT the case in many challenging or sport compliant patterns, the oil is placed more evenly upon the lane. This puts a great demand on accuracy and speed repetition also known as shot making.

As you bowl on these challenging patterns, the lane is far less forgiving and more importantly far less of a static environment. The lane is ever changing, every ball that goes down the lane alters the playing field. As more and more balls travel down the lane, they will absorb oil from the first 1/3 of the lane (the heads) at a far faster rate than they do the rest of the lane. Why is this? There is MORE oil placed in the heads. Wherever there is the most oil, more will be absorbed by today's bowling balls. The more oil that is used, the less static that environment becomes due to ball traffic.

As the traffic dissipates the oil in the heads, your ball may start to do some unexpected things, it can hook early and seem to just wiggle as it travels into the back portion of the lane. When this happens there are a few adjustments that can be made-

  1. You can change to a less aggressive ball and keep your trajectory angles a bit tighter.
  2. You can move farther to the inside portion of the lane, with the same ball, and use more of an open angle, and LOWER ball speed to go around those trouble spots that you are encountering.
  3. This is by far the most difficult, but also most effective- Bowlers who have naturally more axis rotation and reduced axis tilt, are not as susceptible to this particular lane play issue. Imagine a bowler like, Pete Weber, who has a very high amount of axis rotation with a very low axis tilt.

The reason why increased rotation and lower tilt works when the heads start to go away and the oil down-lane has not is track circumference. The more of your ball that comes in contact with the lane bed before it makes a complete rotation, the less sensitive it is to oil/dry differences. The ball has a truer roll to it.

It might seem counter-intuitive to think that a ball that rolls heavier would not hook as early on a dry lane as a ball that spins, but it is a fact. A ball that spins(increased tilt and reduced rotation) loses its energy far faster than the heavier rolling ball. Spin burns off at a drastically increased rate than how roll burns off.

So next time you are encountering these issues, take a look around at which bowler is succeeding. WATCH their ball roll down the lane, not their particular style, just the ball itself. There is a lot to be learned if you allow yourself to learn it!


Tournament Prep List

Keep this list close as you prepare for your next tournament.

  1. Make sure your equipment is ready. Inserts are fresh, thumb holes feel good, interchangeable thumbs are operating properly, and that you a backup interchangeable thumb for any emergencies.
  2. An accessory bag filled with grip adjusting products. Some things to include are: thumb insert tape, thumb/finger protection tapes, tape knife/tape tool, scissors, fingernail clippers.
  3. Abralon pads/surface adjusting products are a must for fine tuning ball reaction. These jewels are a tournament bowlers friend.
  4. Shoes. If you do not have high performance shoes with removable heels and soles, get some. Every bowling center is different and proper footing is essential. Get yourself many combinations of heels and soles. Fine tuning here is paramount.
  5. Add a shoe brush for those slick approaches to your accessory bags.
  6. Rosin and/or hand conditioner can come in handy too.
  7. Shoe covers to protect your shoes for trips out of the settee.
  8. Some anti-inflammatory medication as you never know when those little beauties will be needed.
  9. Storm Shammy to wipe your ball off, do this every shot!
  10. If it is an event that requires proper attire, your bowling clothes! I have forgot my “name” shirt on more than one occasion in my career, it can be quite the embarrassment. Storm apparel works very well in this situation! The most important thing is to bring an open mind and a willingness to learn. Every time we step onto the lanes there are lessons to be learned, but only when our mind is right.

Stay In The Moment

The process... to stay within the moment.

BUT, how does one stay “within the moment”?

It seems to come so naturally for some, Weber, Belmonte, Federer, Nicklaus… any great performer, and it really doesn't matter the sport or disciple. Those who have “it” seem to carry some sort of unique power to always succeed.

Throughout my years of competition, the one thing I consistently witnessed from the best was their commitment to their process. To stay “within the moment”. What does this mean? We hear, “stay in the moment,” often, but how is it really accomplished?

Success is the result of proper execution. Proper execution is a result of being committed to staying focused. Our focus lies within your process which often leads to the ability to stay in the moment. This is accomplished by not allowing outside interference affect your performance and not allowing distraction to interrupt your flow. Distractions come in many forms. The #1 distraction is to be focused on the results. Humans are competitive. We are constantly measuring ourselves against society and against our peers. We want newer cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes, larger bank accounts, the list is endless. Why do we have these desires? The ability to understand this leads to the ability to understand why some can perform “within the moment” and why others can’t.

To be properly focused on the task at hand (the process), one must stay in the moment.

Not the past, no matter how far or immediate, nor the future. It takes great discipline to not be results oriented when we are competing. We can’t look ahead. It also takes great discipline to let go of the negative past results we have experienced. We can’t look behind either. This balancing act is exactly what the greats do to remain in the process. The mind is clear and quiet, the thoughts are purely on the action. It is a form of passive aggressiveness, to get exactly what you want to have and to “let” it happen. You must “allow” yourself to perform, you cannot “make” it happen. It doesn't work that way. It never has and it never will.

A drill that I have used with many of the players I coach is to learn to not watch the scores. This is much easier said than done, but if implemented fully, it will pay immediate dividends. In your next league/tournament, do not look at your score, nor recap, nor results, nor your opponent’s score, nor your friend's scores, nor your rivals scores. What does this drill achieve? Well, it teaches the mind and muscles to stay in the process.

The only shot of any importance is the next one. Nothing else matters.

Our mind knows when we are bowling well, we can feel it. Our mind knows when we are bowling bad, we feel that too. We do not need a number on a piece of paper to tell us what we already feel. Once you feel your body speaking to you and you learn to listen to it, you will then learn to be more honest with yourself. Honest with what you feel, and how to improve on that. The smallest of errors can be felt, things you would have never felt before. Removing the scores from being the dominant factor in how one self-assesses their performance teaches you that you are trying 100% EVERY shot. You are not allowing distraction or the fear of results to affect your performance. You are living in the moment. You are leaving it all out there. No matter what your results are, you tried your best, and that is all we can truly ask of ourselves.