Match Game

Hello Storm Nation!

Success on the lanes often comes when one matches up their equipment to any given oil pattern. This article should be a great tool to help organize your thoughts regarding ball and layout selection. Having coached players for more than two decades, I have had the opportunity to have direct dialog from bowlers of all skill levels. I believe the most common question I hear begins with “What should I throw on….” To answer this properly, you must take them through a series of questions:

  1. What is your velocity, rev rate, axis tilt, and axis rotation?
  2. What is the volume and length of this oil pattern?
  3. What three key points are you looking to play?
    • Laydown
    • Arrows
    • Breakpoint

Question 1 helps you choose the proper layout for his/her game. Higher ball speeds, lower rev rates, and more side roll require layouts that react earlier or sooner. This can be achieved with layouts such as the 4x3x1 and 3x4x2. On the converse, it is best to select more stable, lower flaring drillings for players with slow ball speed, high rev rates, and/or more forward roll. You might consider a 5x6x4 or 6x5x5.

Question 2, regarding the oil pattern, will help you select the appropriate bowling ball. The Storm website has so much valuable information which will help you understand the intent of each ball we release. Under each ball page you will find videos showing ball motion for each particular ball for three drastically different styles.

Plus, know that the most dynamic balls are found in the Premier Line™ while the rest of the lines feature a variety of core and weight block concepts designed to help you find the perfect ball for your game and condition.

And finally, regarding the three key points, the third question will help you dial it all in. A down-and-in trajectory on a lighter oil pattern will require a smoother surface than one which goes away from the pocket and crosses several boards. Choose a duller surface on a ball that flares more when looking to ‘belly’ the ball a lot. If your player is trying to take the more conservative route, have him/her choose a ball with low flare characteristics. It’s all about ‘matching up’!

We will all score better when we have a true ‘arsenal’ of equipment with a variety of coverstocks and cores or weight blocks. Once this is achieved, the next step is selecting the right ball, or succession of balls, for each situation. Versatility is mandatory to succeed in today’s ever-changing environment.

Best of luck to everyone!

To learn more about Storm’s line of high performance equipment, spend some time on our website, exploring all the different sections here at http://www.stormbowling.com, or feel free to contact me via e-mail at stevek@stormbowling.com.


PSA-to-PAP Distance

Confusion

The preferred spin axis (PSA) on an asymmetrical ball is one of the most misunderstood topics surrounding bowling ball technology in today’s game. A majority of bowlers don’t realize how important it is and how much more the ball reaction can be fine-tuned when drilling an asymmetrical ball. Before we dive into this topic, it is important that we understand what the PSA is, where it exists on a bowling ball, and why it is there. Let’s take a closer look.

Symmetry

Take a look at Figure 1. It highlights the difference between a symmetrical ball and an asymmetrical ball. Looking at the Stinger™ 2.0 Core on the left, you’ll see that the core can be cut in half any direction through the pin and both sides will be identical. This is essentially the definition of radial symmetry, which the bowling industry calls "symmetric" for short. The Stinger 2.0 Core is a symmetrical core. Symmetrical cores are going to tend to transition slower and smoother than asymmetrical cores because of this evenness from side to side. Looking at the RAD-X™ Core on the right in Figure 1, you’ll notice that the same process of symmetrically cutting the core in half around the pin cannot be done. One side of the core is skinnier than the other side. This creates a preferred spin axis and makes the core asymmetrical in shape. Asymmetrical cores are going to tend to transition faster and change direction more violently than symmetrical cores. This is primarily because of the added amount of imbalance caused by the PSA.

Intermediate Differential

Radius of gyration (RG) and total differential are specs that are provided by manufacturers to help pro shops and consumers understand the core technology inside the bowling ball. Intermediate differential is another specification that is only listed on asymmetrical balls. Intermediate differential by definition is the difference between the y-axis and z-axis of the bowling ball. I know this can be a bit confusing, but bear with me for now. Look at Figure 2. You’ll see an image of three different bowling ball cores. The first image is of the Stinger 2.0 Core, the second is of the RAD-X Core, and the third is of the G2™ Core. I've included the intermediate differential on each of the cores to help show their differences. Intermediate differential only exists on asymmetrical cores. It doesn't exist on a symmetrical core because the width of the core is the same all the way around the ball at 6 ¾” from the pin. In other words, there is no difference from the y-axis to the z-axis. Take a look at the Stinger Core. It is the same width all the way around making it symmetrical. This makes the intermediate differential 0.000, which is the primary reason that it is not listed with other manufacturer specifications. Next in line is the RAD-X Core. You’ll see that there is a moderate amount of intermediate differential because it is skinnier on one side of the core compared to the other side. The skinnier this side is in relation to the other, the more intermediate differential the ball is going to have. The intermediate differential of the RAD-X Core is 0.018. Finally, the G2 Core has the most intermediate differential of any ball that Storm has ever created at 0.028.

The higher the number, the stronger the PSA is and the more influence it is going to have when placed in a strong position.

It’s important to note that it is nearly impossible to see this with the naked eye. We are talking extremely small numbers, but they have a large effect on ball reaction. This is why it may be difficult to see that the G2 Core is skinnier than the RAD-X Core. Keep in mind this intermediate differential is only going to have an influence if it is placed in a strong position relative to the PAP. Placing it in a weaker position is going to reduce the impact it will have on ball reaction. These numbers are taken from 15lb bowling balls. Keep in mind core numbers can all change depending on what weight you throw. Be sure to make sure you're looking at the correct weight when looking at these numbers.

Understanding the PSA

Any time that there is the presence of a PSA, it is always going to be the preferred axis for the ball to rotate around when energy is applied to the ball. In other words, the ball will always orient itself and rotate around this axis because it is balanced in this position. The laws of physics dictate this happening. Depending on where the PSA is placed in relation to the bowler’s positive axis point, different reactions can occur. How much of a difference you might see in reaction depends on the amount of intermediate differential in the PSA. In other words, the intermediate differential is the indication of how strong the PSA is on the undrilled ball. The higher the intermediate differential, the stronger the PSA. There is not a strongly defined PSA on symmetrical balls because there isn't a significant amount of intermediate differential. Keep in mind all of the other variables of ball motion have an effect here as well. As I’ve stated in previous articles, we are simply taking a look at this one variable and holding all the others constant. Take a look at a few generalized examples below and see what they look like when put in motion.

Longer PSA-to-PAP Distances

PSA-to-PAP distances of 4 ½” or more are going to result in the PSA being oriented closer to a stable position at the moment of release. Take a look at Figure 3. The picture shows the rotation of the core with the PSA placed 6 ¾” away from the PAP. This is an extreme example. You’ll see that this puts PSA in a stable position as the ball is released. This is going to reduce the overall track flare and cause the ball to transition slower as it travels down the lane. This is going to make the ball get through the front part of the lane cleaner, and be much smoother as it releases energy down lane. Keep in mind, these balls show 0 degrees of both axis tilt and axis rotation. They also show a Pin-to-PAP distance of 6 ¾”. I’ve chosen these because it makes the differences in PSA-to-PAP distance the easiest to see visually. Additionally, the balls do not have holes. When you add in tilt, rotation, layout, and size of the holes, the actual orientation can get extremely complicated to show visually. We are keeping these examples extremely simple so it’s easy to see the difference in orientation upon release.

 

Shorter PSA-to-PAP Distances

PSA-to-PAP distances of 2 ½” or less are once again going to result in the PSA being oriented in a more stable position at the moment of release. This is similar, but not to be confused with the longer distances. It is similar to Pin-to-PAP distances. When using shorter PSA-to-PAP distances, the PSA is going to line up extremely early on the lane as it is nearly lined up already at the moment of release just as a short Pin-to-PAP distance nearly balances the core at the moment of release. Take a look at Figure 4. The picture shows the rotation of the core with the PSA placed 0” away from the PAP. You’ll see when the ball is in rotation that the PSA is completely lined up at the moment of release. It doesn’t have to migrate to be in a stable position. A ball with a shorter PSA-to-PAP distance will want to line up quickly and stabilize early as the ball is traveling down the lane. As I mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph, PSA-to-PAP distance is relative to all of the other factors of ball motion. They all work together to create the desired ball motion.

 

Stronger PSA-to-PAP Distances

PSA-to-PAP distances longer than 2 ½” but shorter than 4 ½” are going to result in the PSA being oriented in a strong position at the moment of release. It will be in a very unstable position and it will want to migrate to a more stable position as it transitions down the lane. Take a look at Figure 5. The picture shows the rotation of the core with the PSA placed 3 ⅜” away from the PAP. You can see how unstable this is even with the Pin-to-PAP distance being 6 ¾". On a side note, this shows you why an asymmetrical ball will flare more with longer Pin-to-PAP distances if the PSA is placed in a strong position. There is still imbalance present in the PSA that wouldn't be present on a symmetrical ball. With a stronger PSA-to-PAP distance, the ball is going to transition quickly, flare more, and react stronger as it rolls down the lane. This is a great example to show you how intermediate differential affects the imbalance. The higher the intermediate differential is, the more effect it is going to have when placed in this unstable position. You can also see why it is only relevant when placed in a stronger position. In the previous two examples, the PSA begins in such a stable position that the intermediate differential is largely irrelevant. This is the same relationship as total differential and Pin-to-PAP distance. It doesn’t matter if the ball has 0.060 differential if the Pin-to-PAP distance is 0”. The core is balanced upon release and isn’t going to flare as it travels down the lane.

 

Symmetrical Misconception

Most players believe that changing the PSA-to-PAP distance on a symmetrical ball will create a significant difference in ball reaction. When changing the PSA-to-PAP distance on a symmetrical, all you are really doing is rotating changing the position of the center of gravity. Figure 6 shows a classic example of two bowling balls with identical Pin-to-PAP distances and pin buffers. The only difference is the PSA-to-PAP distance. We have used a 2” PSA-to-PAP distance on the ball on the left and 6” PSA-to-PAP distance on the ball on the right. Before looking at the next figure, imagine what the difference in core position looks like.

Now take a look at Figure 7.1. You’ll see that no matter how much we rotate the center of gravity, the position of the core stays in relatively the same overall position because the Pin-to-PAP and pin buffer distances have remained unchanged on the symmetrical. Imagine screwing an incandescent light bulb into a socket. No matter how much you rotate it, the orientation of the light bulb does not change because it is symmetrical in shape. In a bowling ball, the only difference you will see is in the static weights of the ball, which we already know from previous articles are not very influential to today’s ball motion. Take a look at Figure 7.2. You'll see that there is a difference in core position when rotating it because of the asymmetrical shape. The PSA moves a significant amount and can be placed in a certain position to manipulate ball reaction. Hopefully these visual aids really helps you see what difference there is when comparing the PSA-to-PAP distance on a symmetrical to an asymmetrical.

 

Test Data

I’ve provided some data using Specto by Kegel® to visually help you see the difference of changing the PSA-to-PAP distance in a symmetrical compared to an asymmetrical. There were a total of 4 balls tested in this experiment, 2 Sure Lock bowling balls and 2 Torrent bowling balls. Figure 8 shows the four different balls that were tested, the layouts on those balls, the migration paths, the top weight, and the after-drilling total weight.

Looking at the data, Figure 9.1 is showing the ball paths of the two different Sure Locks as they were thrown down the lane. You'll notice at first glance that the blue line (5 x 2 x 2) sees the lane earlier. It was launched with slightly more angle and still didn't get as far right at the break point. The red line (5 x 6 x 2) stays on a straight line path longer, gets farther right, and recovers more down lane even though it was launched with slightly less angle. You can see that the true break point distance is a few feet farther down the lane for the red line compared to the blue line. Figure 9.2 is showing the ball paths of the two different Torrents as they were thrown down the lane. You'll see that there is nearly no difference in the two shots. They were released within ½ of a board of each other at the exact same launch angle and ended up within ½ of a board of each other at the pins with the overall shape being nearly exactly the same.

All of these shots were kept within an extremely tight tolerance so that the difference you see in the plots is purely from the difference in the balls. Most will look at the graph and say, "Oh, they aren't that different." Looking closely at some of the data will show you some subtle front to back changes in ball motion. Reading your ball motion front to back is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. The primary reason for the difference between the Sure Lock and Torrent data is the PSA. You can really see how much influence the 0.018 of undrilled intermediate differential has on ball motion. Keep in mind that both of these Sure Locks are utilizing relatively "weak" PSA positions of 2" and 6". If I would've used a stronger PSA position, we would see an even bigger difference.

 

Analyzing Further

You can see that the 5 x 2 x 2 Sure Lock sees the lane a few feet sooner. If you look at the Torrent data, you’ll see that the lines are overlapping. There is so little difference, it is not significant to the ball motion. The primary difference we see is caused by the difference in static weights. Might be a bit surprising to some that a ball with nearly 2 ounces of positive side weight reacts nearly identical to a ball with ½ an ounce of negative side weight. When throwing a 15lb bowling ball, there are approximately 240 ounces of total weight in the ball. 1 ounce of positive or negative side weight is not going to have a significant influence on the overall motion of the ball when there is such a large imbalanced core inside creating large flare patterns. The position of the core along with coverstock/surface preparation are going to have much more influence.

For those of you who really want to get technical, Figure 9.3 is a swing sheet for each of the balls that were tested in this experiment. I'll highlight some of the major differences between the two. Look at the data from the Torrents. You'll see the RG on both is 2.56, the differential is 0.048, and the intermediate after drilling is relatively close. All of this information is why you don't see much difference in these two balls going down the lane. Go back to figure 8 and notice the migration paths of the two Torrents. The yellow dot on the right is the initial axis and the red dot on the left is the final axis the ball migrates to as it travels down the lane. You'll notice they go in exactly the same direction and flare the exact same amount. This is because after drilling, the PSA ends up in the thumb hole on both of the balls since there wasn't a strong PSA present to begin with. Since the PSA is in the exact same position on both of the drilled balls, along with the Pin-to-PAP distance and pin buffer, the balls are going to flare the exact same way. This really shows how insignificant static weights are to ball reaction in today's game. The 5 x 2 x 2 Torrent has 2 ounces of positive side weight, where the 5 x 6 x 2 has 3/8 of an ounce of negative side weight. You can see this has nearly no impact on the ball path in Figure 9.2.

Now take a look at the Sure Locks. You'll see the RG on both is 2.49, but that's where the similarities end. You'll see the 5 x 2 x 2 has 0.056 differential and 0.019 intermediate, where the 5 x 6 x 2 has 0.060 differential and 0.025 intermediate. We have significantly changed some of these important numbers, which is why we see a slight difference in ball reaction. Keep in mind, both of these PSA positions tested are considered to be in a relatively "weak" position. If we split the difference and had a 3rd ball with a PSA-to-PAP distance of 4", we would see even more significant changes to the ball reaction. This was simply to show you how much earlier the PSA lines up with closer distances, and how much later it lines up with longer distances. Even in these relatively "weak" positions, they have more effect than any position does on a symmetrical. Now take a look at the migration paths of the two Sure Locks in Figure 8. You'll see when the PSA is pushed to the right, it forces the migration down. When the PSA is pushed to the left, it forces the migration up. This is because the migration path is always going to want to stay on the same RG plane that it began on. In other words, it's going to follow the path of least resistance. Since there is already a strongly defined PSA present on the Sure Locks, drilling a thumb hole doesn't pull the after-drilling PSA into the thumb hole. It will settle somewhere between the two.

Think of it like a tug of war to get balanced. Intermediate differential is the force pulling one way and the mass taken out from drilling is pulling the other way. I've created one final image to help explain this. Figure 9.4 shows the after-drilling position of the PSA on the 5 x 2 x 2 Sure Lock. You'll see that the thumb pulled it away from its original position, but not all the way to the thumb as it did in the symmetrical. The intermediate differential from the PSA pulled it back and it settled between the two in a balanced position. The larger and deeper the holes are drilled, the more it will pull the after-drilling PSA towards them. Tying in with my article about balance holes, you can see how this after-drilling position of the PSA can be manipulated even more depending on the extra hole's distance from both the pin and the PSA. Asymmetrical bowling balls are truly unique in the amount of fine-tuning you can do to the reaction.

 

Final Thoughts

This article was a bit difficult to keep light when the topic is more complicated. Reading over it more than once will definitely help you understand this complicated topic a bit more. I hope a few of you have made it to this point and feel like you learned something. Even if everything wasn't completely understood, hopefully it opened your eyes to the complexity of ball motion and how much really goes into it. If anything was unclear or you're looking for more information, please comment below or reach out to me directly. I'll do my best to help in any way I can. Learning more about the PSA and its effect on ball motion will significantly help you appreciate the difference an asymmetrical ball can give you. I’m sure most readers will find the test results comparing the symmetrical versus asymmetrical differences to be the biggest takeaway from this article. As I’ve said in previous articles, the laws of physics can’t be broken. Understanding more about what causes your ball to transition as it goes down the lane will make you a more powerful and versatile bowler in the long run. A smarter bowler can definitely beat a more talented bowler. Putting in some extra time to learn what is happening might just be the difference in your next match. Thanks for reading!


PIN-to-PAP Distance

Decisions Decisions

There are many decisions that need to be made after purchasing your newest bowling ball. All of them are pieces of a puzzle that fit together properly to create good ball motion. The Pin-to-PAP distance is going to be the first and one of the most important decisions that should be made regarding the layout. Of the changes you can make to a layout, Pin-to-PAP distance is going to have the greatest effect. If you are starting to build a new arsenal, it is best to take a look at some of your current equipment to see what types of Pin-to-PAP distances you have been utilizing. You may notice you prefer certain distances over others. You might find that all of your equipment utilizes a similar distance. Does that distance match up well to your ball speed/rev rate or the conditions you are bowling on?

Pin-to-PAP distance might happen to be the piece of the puzzle that was missing for you.

After reading this article, you may begin to understand why you struggle on certain conditions. The goal of this article is to open your eyes to experimenting with different Pin-to-PAP distances to create different shapes. Let’s take a look at some background information on what the Pin-to-PAP distance is and how it affects ball reaction.

 

Orientation of the core

The Pin-to-PAP distance (appropriately enough) is the distance from your positive axis point to the pin. It is going to control how much of the core's flare potential you utilize in the bowling ball. It is controlling how the core is oriented at the moment of release. The Pin-to-PAP distance can range anywhere from 0 to 6 ¾". You might notice that this is approximately 1/4 of the bowling ball. We have turned the coverstock and core translucent in the above figures to show you the orientation of the weight block with different Pin-to-PAP distances. It's important to note that these do not take into consideration axis rotation or axis tilt. They are simply rolling forward with 0 degrees of both axis rotation and axis tilt. Figure 1.1 shows the position of the core at release with a 0" Pin-to-PAP distance. We've put a green dot on the weight block to aid in visualizing the rotation since there is minimal movement. This illustrates how stable the weight block is upon release and why it doesn't create a significant amount of track flare. It is rotating around the lowest RG axis. Skip over to Figure 1.3. Once again the weight block is in an extremely stable position. It is standing completely up rotating around the highest RG axis. Figure 1.2 illustrates the rotation of the weight block exactly halfway between these two points at 3 ⅜". The weight block will be in the most unstable position because it is sitting at a 45-degree angle inside the ball at the release point. This is going to result in the highest amount of track flare that particular core can produce. Different cores are going to produce different amounts of flare depending on the amount of total differential in the shape of the weight block inside of the core. Simple shapes can produce as little as 1" of flare. More complex shapes can produce upwards of 6" of total flare on the bowling ball. Now that we know the flare potential of the bowling ball can be manipulated using different Pin-to-PAP distances, we need to see what happens on both sides of the RG curve to understand why a ball can flare the exact same amount, but give us two completely different shapes down the lane.

 

Strong pin-to-pap

Figure 2 shows the general position of the core with a strong Pin-to-PAP distance. You can see that a Pin-to-PAP distance of 3 ⅜" utilizes 100% of the core’s flare potential because it is sitting in the most unstable position at the point of release. This is going to cause the core to wobble more than any other position which produces the most track flare. Stronger Pin-to-PAP distances are going to give you a strong predictable motion that you can count on in the midlane. This can be good in many different situations. One that comes to my mind is when the lanes are transitioning and you need something to blend out the pattern. Depending on the lane surface and volume of the oil pattern, you can even get away with these stronger Pin-to-PAP distances on some shorter patterns because it revs up strong in the midlane and blends out the end of the pattern. If we move up the curve, we increase the distance from 3 ⅜" towards 6 ¾" we utilize the higher RG side of the curve. As we get closer and closer to 6 ¾", the flare potential in the bowling ball is lowered because we are putting the core in a more stable position. This results in the ball hooking less and later down the lane. This happens because we are standing the core up in a more stable position about the higher RG axis. The higher the RG, the more resistant the ball will be to changing direction as it travels down the lane. Using longer Pin-to-PAP distances is going to raise the RG and promote a slower transition with a cleaner shape through the front part of the lane. You will see more change in direction down lane with longer Pin-to-PAP distances.

 

long pin-to-pap

Figure 3 shows the general position of the core with longer Pin-to-PAP distances. In general, longer Pin-to-PAP distances are good to use on the burn when you need the extra tumble through the front part of the lane. The ball is going to want to conserve energy much longer and transition slower. As soon as the bowler releases the ball, the energy the bowler imparts on the ball will begin to be lost. Controlling how quickly the energy is lost is crucial to creating good ball motion. There are more variables than just the Pin-to-PAP distance that influence the rate that energy is lost, but for this article's purpose we are simply looking at this one piece of the puzzle. Using too strong of a Pin-to-PAP distance when the pattern is extremely dry will result in the ball losing too much energy too early on the lane. It is going to be very difficult for the ball to get through the pins properly when it has used up a majority of its energy in the front part of the lane. We only have 15lbs of ball to knock down 34lbs of pins. We need the ball to be in the proper phase of ball motion at the correct entry angle to win the battle. To accomplish this, you'll want to make sure you are using longer Pin-to-PAP distances when the lanes are drier to promote a cleaner look through the front with more energy down lane. This will allow the ball still have enough energy to make it around the corner and get through the pins properly. Keep in mind there are always exceptions in our game, but this gives a good generalization to get your mind headed the right direction.

 

short pin-to-pap

Figure 4 shows the general position of the core with shorter Pin-to-PAP distances. The more we begin to decrease the distance from 3 ⅜" towards 0" we utilize the lower RG side of the curve. As we get closer and closer to 0", the flare potential in the bowling ball is lowered because we are putting the core in a more stable position. This will result in the ball hooking less and earlier on the lane. This happens because we are lying the core down in a more stable position about the lower RG axis. The lower the RG, the less resistant the ball will be to changing direction as it travels down the lane. Using shorter Pin-to-PAP distances is going to promote a faster and smoother transition through the front part of the lane. You will see a much earlier roll with not much direction change down the lane if you utilize shorter Pin-to-PAP distances.

In general, this would be good to use on either the fresh, or a very short pattern where you are looking for control off the end of the pattern. The ball is going to get into a roll extremely early because the core is laying in such a stable position around the lowest RG axis. This means that it will use a lot of its energy early and smooth out the reaction down lane. This can be great when the lanes are really flat and you are looking to stay out of trouble. You will get a smooth predictable reaction out of shorter Pin-to-PAP distances. Of course, it could be a bit of a challenge to get them to go through the pins properly because so much of the energy is used in the front part of the lane. Remember, we have a 15lb ball against 34lbs of pins.

Luckily modern day bowling balls cause lane patterns to transition extremely fast.

The bowler should be able to move from these shorter Pin-to-PAP layouts to other layouts that will give them more shape down lane. Shorter Pin-to-PAP distance layouts definitely aren't what you want to have on every ball, but they can save you from the dreaded 150 game on the fresh or when the pattern is extremely difficult. That could be the difference between winning and losing. It's not always the ball that you throw in the finals that got you the win. Sometimes the unsung hero is the ball that keeps you out of trouble when the lanes are tough. A good arsenal is always going to have at least one shorter Pin-to-PAP distance ball for control.

Symmetrical verses Asymmetrical

One final topic that must be addressed when discussing Pin-to-PAP distance is the different effects it has on a symmetrical ball verses an asymmetrical ball. Figure 5 shows the difference between a symmetrical shape and an asymmetrical shape. Since an asymmetrical ball has the presence of a preferred spin axis (PSA) there can be significant differences when using longer Pin-to-PAP distances. These differences depend on the location of the PSA. If the ball driller puts the PSA in a weak position, longer Pin-to-PAP distances will react similar to a symmetrical ball. If the PSA is placed in a strong position, the ball will actually flare more with longer Pin-to-PAP distances than they will on a symmetrical ball. This is just another example of how much more versatile some of those asymmetrical shapes are. They can be fine-tuned further than a symmetrical ball to get a closer match to what you are looking for.

Wrap-up

Concluding this article, we can see that the Pin-to-PAP distance is a powerful tool in creating proper ball motion. It controls how much flare and what side of the RG curve we use. A problem many bowlers have when they run into issues with carry is their ball either still hooking or being completely rolled out at the pins. There is a small window in there where the ball is in a strong roll. A ball is always going to transfer more energy if it is rolling through the pins. We are bound by the laws of physics in our world. We have 34lbs of pins is standing in the way of a 15lb bowling ball. The pins are always going to win unless we get the ball into the roll phase at the correct time and at the proper entry angle. Pin-to-PAP distance is going to help you control how much energy your ball has and where it begins to use it so you can begin to create the proper shape and entry angle. Always be sure to have a few different Pin-to-PAP distances in your arsenal to be sure that you can create the right amount of flare for anything you are bowling on. As previously stated, there are many more variables that influence ball motion. This article looked solely at Pin-to-PAP distance and held other variables constant. This is just one piece of the puzzle to creating good ball motion. Future articles will cover other pieces of the puzzle to help you understand the entire picture.

 

 


Balance Holes

Background

A balance hole is an extra hole in the bowling ball that is not used for gripping purposes. Balance holes are primarily used to make the ball static weight legal to the current USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual if they are outside the legal limit after drilling. Once a bowling ball has been drilled, there are still options to fine-tune the reaction for the bowler. This article is going to look at how balance holes can be used to alter the reaction of a bowling ball.

Traditional thinking

Balance holes can influence ball reaction depending on the size and the location of the hole. Before reading this article, take a look at your current equipment. Do any of your bowling balls currently utilize a balance hole? If so, was there any thought put into the location of it, or was it simply to make the ball static weight legal? You may notice that you really like a ball with a certain location and size of balance hole, but it might not be your favorite on a different ball. Why is this? Let's examine.

Traditionally, balance holes were presented in very simple terms. Historically, the higher the balance hole is in relation to the midline, the more it decreases the flare potential of the bowling ball. The lower the balance hole is in relation to the midline, the more it increases the flare potential of the bowling ball. Figure 1 illustrates this. While this is mostly true, there can definitely be some exceptions. Not all balance holes in the same location are going to have the same effect on the ball. There are other variables that are going to influence how they alter the bowling ball's performance.

The term "RG" refers to the radius of gyration - a very important bowling term to become familiar with. This basically tells you how much of the mass is located towards the center of the ball.

Low RG's means more of the mass is centrally located. Higher RG's mean that more of the mass is located away from the center. Lower RG balls are going to require less energy to change direction. They will transition faster and roll earlier. Higher RG balls require more energy to change direction. They will transition slower and roll later.

Every ball is going to have both a low RG and high RG axis. Take a look at Figure 2. It's important to note that the pin is the surface designation for the low RG x-axis of the bowling ball. In general, 6 3/4" from the pin is going to be the high RG y-axis of the bowling ball. The distance from the x-axis to the balance hole is going to be crucial in determining how much and what kind of effect that the balance hole has on the reaction of the bowling ball. Shorter distances (3" or less) to the x-axis are going to decrease reaction. Longer distances (4" or more) to the x-axis are going to increase reaction. Distances somewhere in the middle are going to have little to no effect. Why does this occur? Let's take a look.

the difference in RG's

Every hole that you introduce to a bowling ball is going to raise the RG of the ball in that particular location of the hole itself. We know that the pin designates the low RG axis on the entire ball. Figure 3 represents a 15lb Torrent. Looking at the numbers, a Torrent in this weight has a low RG of 2.56 and differential of 0.044. This means at the location of the pin, the RG of the bowling ball is going to be 2.56. If we go approximately 6 3/4" away from the x-axis, we will find the y-axis. The y-axis is the high RG axis of the bowling ball. This is essentially a 90° angle from the top to the side of the core. The difference between these two axes represent the total differential of the ball. Using some simple math, we can calculate what the high RG axis of an undrilled 15lb Torrent is. 2.56 (Low RG) + 0.044 (Differential) = 2.604 (High RG). It is important to note that the RG of the ball is going to change as we move across the surface of the ball. Somewhere in between 0 and 6 3/4", the RG will be somewhere between 2.56 and 2.604. The shape of the core primarily influences this. Now that we know the RG's of the Torrent, we can take a look at how balance holes are going to influence them.

 

 

Distance from the x-axis

Let's start with hole placements with shorter distances from the x-axis. Imagine putting an extra hole directly through the pin as an extreme example. We know that introducing a hole into the ball is going to raise the RG of the ball in that particular spot. The x-axis is the lowest RG spot on the entire ball. If we add a hole to it, we are raising the RG of the lowest RG spot on the ball. This makes the lowest RG spot on the ball higher and closer to the high RG axis. This is lowering the total differential between the two, which makes the ball weaker and respond slower as it transitions down the lane. Think about where the mass is being taken out of the core. The pin is designating the top of the core. If we drill a hole directly through the pin, we are taking more mass out of the top of the core. This essentially makes the core shorter, which lowers the total differential and raises the overall RG.

Now let's take a look at hole placements with longer distances from the x-axis. Imagine putting an extra hole 6 3/4" away from the x-axis. As always, when introducing a hole into the ball, that hole is going to raise the RG of the ball in that particular spot. Approximately 6 3/4" away from the x-axis is the high RG axis. If we put a hole on the high RG axis, we are raising the RG of the already high RG axis of the ball making it even higher. What is this going to do to the overall differential? The low RG axis remains unchanged, but now the high RG axis is even higher. The total differential has increased and the RG has remained lower. Imagine where the mass is being taken out of the core with the hole 6 3/4" from the pin. All of the mass will be removed from the side of the core. This is going to make it skinnier than it was before compared to its height. This will increase the total differential and keep the overall the RG lower.

Finally, let's take a look at medium distances. If we put an extra hole at 3 3/8"away from the X-axis, we are precisely between both the low RG axis and high RG axis. This is going to have little effect because we are taking mass out at a 45° angle relative to each axis. We are taking mass out of the top and the side which cancels out the effect. If we get farther than the 3 3/8" distance, we remove more mass from the side. If we get closer than the 3 3/8" distance, we remove more mass from the top. Each of these effects have been outlined above and should make sense.

Sizes are pretty self-explanatory. As you can imagine, the larger and deeper the hole, the more effect the hole will have on the reaction of the ball. This is because we are removing more mass out of the core. This means there are a lot of options when it comes to size and depth. I always suggest starting with a smaller hole because you can always increase the size based on what you see from the initial ball reaction.

 

Position on the arc

The final variable to look at is the position of the balance hole on the arc. Let's imagine that we put an extra hole in the ball 5" from the pin. There are many different positions on the ball that are 5". Looking at the Figure 4, we can place a balance hole anywhere on this arc and it will remain 5" from the pin. The further out we put the hole towards the VAL, the more we are going to smooth out and slow down the reaction. This happens because the holes are further apart. The closer we get the hole towards the thumb, the faster this ball is going to transition. This happens because the holes are closer together creating a larger intermediate differential after drilling. It is important to note that you always need to make sure that tracking issues won't occur when determining where to place the balance hole. You will always want to throw the ball first and make sure you aren't placing the balance hole near any track flare. Keep in mind, if you are using a flare increasing hole (4" or more), the ball is going to flare more after the hole is drilled. You will need to put the hole further away from the flare rings.

 

 

Looking at balance holes like this makes it easier because it gives you consistency from ball to ball. The mass is being taken out of the same spot on the weight block to create a more consistent reaction regardless of the differences in layout. In Figure 5, the ball on the left is drilled 3 x 4 x 1 and the ball on the right is drilled 6 x 4 x 3. If both balls were to have a balance hole located on the PAP, the balance holes are not going to have the same effect on each of the balls. It's going to increase the total differential and lower the RG on the 6 x 4 x 3 ball because the balance hole is 6" from the pin. On the 3 x 4 x 1 ball, the balance hole is going to have less of an effect because it is drilled in the neutral zone of 3-4" from the pin. Keep in mind, all of this information is relative to all of the other pieces of the puzzle. Remember that Pin-to-PAP distance is going to be another variable influencing the reaction. Clearly a ball with a 6" pin-to-PAP distance is going to be cleaner through the front part of the lane and flare less. The location of the hole is one of the secondary factors that goes into ball reaction.

 

 
symmetrical verses asymmetrical

The last thing we cannot ignore is the effect of hole placement on a symmetrical versus an asymmetrical core. Take a look at Figure 6. Remember that an asymmetrical ball can be fine-tuned even further because of the presence of the PSA, or the preferred spin axis. The closer the balance hole is drilled to the PSA, the higher the intermediate differential is going to become. The ball is going to transition faster because it has a higher intermediate split. The further the balance hole is drilled from the PSA, the more intermediate differential you are drilling out of the ball. Essentially, you are drilling out some of the asymmetry which makes it transition slower as a symmetrical ball would. All the other principals aforementioned are the same regarding balance hole distance from the x-axis.

Essentially, if we put a 1 1/4"  hole 6 3/4" away from the pin and drill it 3 1/2" deep, we are going to significantly increase the total differential and lower the RG of the ball. This is going to result in it transitioning much faster and hooking more front to back and right to left overall. If we put a 1 1/4" hole through the pin drilled 3 1/2" deep, we are going to significantly decrease the total differential and raise the RG of the ball. This is going to result in the ball transitioning much slower and hooking much less front to back and right to left. If we decrease the size or the depth of these holes, we will reduce the impact that they had in their respective locations.

summary

In summary, you can really see how much of an effect can be created using different balance hole locations and sizes. Hopefully now, you have a better understanding of how balance holes further from the x-axis increase flare potential and balance holes closer to the x-axis decrease flare potential. Keep in mind that there are many pieces to the puzzle that is laying out a bowling ball. Some are more influential than others. This article strictly looks at the effects of balance holes and keeps all other variables constant. Learning more about how these variables work together to create good ball reaction is crucial to understanding what your ball is doing as it transitions down the lane. Knowledge is power - put them all together and you've got some serious power.

Always remember: not all balance holes are created equal!


Bowling for Health and Performance

There is an overlap between games and sports. Generally, sports require some sort of physical effort of specialized skill while games are more organized affairs with rules. The word game has several meanings. You can, for example, play a game of sports, but you can't sport a game. A good example would be if you think of the Olympics. The Olympics are referred to as the Olympic Games yet the game is a competition to collect as many medals as possible by partaking in specific sports. Whether you are a fulltime professional or a weekly leaguer, there’s no refuting that bowling deserves its place on the pillar amongst other sports. A physiological analysis confirms bowling requires strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility to perform in the upper echelons of the competitive scene. Long gone are the days of calling bowling a “pastime.” Cutting-edge knowledge and techniques are being applied to the training protocols of top professionals and Team USA members. Being cognizant of your personal fitness levels can only help propel you to the top of your game as well.

Physical activity alone promotes muscle toning and strengthening, weight loss, stress relief, and reduced risk of disease. Depending on your weight, you can burn 200-600 calories per hour of bowling. Not only does bowling favor the aforementioned benefits, it can improve your social life, increase hand-eye coordination, and can be enjoyed at any age. Unlike most sports, the health gains far outweigh the risks for injury. Incorporating strength training, cardio, and stretching into your daily routine will not only make you a better bowler, it will improve your overall quality of life.

It’s been noted that Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from bowling because it improves balance and preserves motor skills. Also, repetitive movements like that of bowling may decrease anxiety because patients don’t have to make decisions about the activity.

Warm-ups and flexibility have been traditionally linked, but it is important to differentiate between them as they have different key functions. Warm-up is designed to prepare an athlete for training or competition and can improve subsequent performance and lessen the risk of injury. A well-designed warm-up can increase muscle temperature, core temperature, and blood flow and also disrupt transient connective tissue bonds. These effects can have the following positive impacts on performance:

  • Faster muscle contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles
  • Improvements in the rate of force development and reaction time
  • Improvements in muscle strength and power
  • Lowered viscous resistance in muscles
  • Increased blood flow to active muscles
  • Enhanced metabolic reactions

The degree of movement that occurs at a joint is called the range of motion (ROM). The ROM of a particular joint is determined by a number of factors including connective tissue structure, activity level, age, and gender. Range of motion is specific to each joint’s anatomy and the movements required at that joint. Flexibility is a measure of ROM and has static and dynamic components. Static flexibility is the range of possible movement about a joint and its surrounding muscles during a passive movement. Static flexibility requires no voluntary muscle activity; an external force such as gravity, a partner, or a machine provides the force for a stretch. Dynamic flexibility refers to the available ROM during active movements and therefore requires voluntary muscular actions. Stretching should be performed following practice and competition. Post practice stretching facilitates ROM improvements because of increased muscle temperature. It should be performed 5 to 10 minutes after practice. The increased body temperature increases the elastic properties of collagen within muscles and tendons, which allows for a greater stretch magnitude. Post-practice stretching may also decrease muscle soreness. If increased levels of flexibility are required, additional stretching sessions may be needed. In this case, stretching should be preceded by a thorough warm-up to allow for the increase in muscle temperature necessary for effective stretching. This type of stretching can be especially useful as a recovery session on the day after a tournament or league play.

Bowling is primarily considered an anaerobic sport, or one that does not place a demand on the cardiovascular system such as running or swimming. It focuses on short bursts of anaerobic power that stress the musculoskeletal system instead of the circulatory and pulmonary systems. During activity, the degree to which aerobic and anaerobic systems contribute to the energy being produced is determined primarily by the intensity and secondarily by the duration. Because a bowling session can last a few hours over the course of several days in most tournaments, training the cardiovascular system is equally as important as training for strength and power.

Because bowling is predominantly an anaerobic activity where you don't get sweaty and winded, it may not look, or even feel, like you're exercising.

Bowling competitively requires a certain amount of physical prowess from head to toe. Strength training the upper body, core, and lower body is more important now than ever before. Exercises for your upper body you can do at home like push-ups, bicep curls, and dumbbell rows can go a long way for your game. Grip strength is a commonly forgotten area of great importance. Even squeezing a racquetball at your office desk as little as 10 minutes a day can help make that 15lb ball feel several pounds lighter over time. Lunges, squats, and calf raises are excellent strength building exercises for your lower body, but developing your stabilizer muscles via balance and isometric exercises can be a game changer.

Prime movers work more efficiently with strong stabilizer, or fixator, muscles. Stabilizers contract, primarily isometrically, to immobilize a limb so that another part of the body can act. For example, the hip flexors are immobilized during knee flexion, and the abdominal muscles serve as stabilizers when the arms rolls a ball. In bowling, when the core muscles act as stabilizers the trunk transmits leg power to the arms, which translates to ball speed. A weak stabilizer inhibits the contraction capacity of the prime movers. Improperly developed stabilizers may hamper the activity of major muscles. The arms and legs are only as strong as the trunk. A poorly developed core is a weak support for hard-working limbs. Strength training programs should first strengthen the core muscle before focusing on the arms and legs.