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.


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.



45 thoughts on “PIN-to-PAP Distance

  1. I am very impressed with your articles. I am an older bowler who struggles with not being able to generate enough speed (12 mph )or rev rate to really kill the pins. most of my balls are drilled pin up and in one house they still hook too much. I have a jig I made for my drill press and have done one ball (Storm Street Fight )myself, with decent results. I have done this because I have tried several local so called “PRO SHOPS” without any different results. Any suggestions you could make as to ball, layout, and pin to PAP positions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hello Ernie,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hopefully you gained some knowledge from reading it. If you would like, please send me an email at and we can talk about some suggestions on ball/layout that will be best for you. Take care!

  2. Love the article but it seems the more i try to learn the more I stay confused Lol that’s bowling! Thanks storm for the article. I’m just a a student looking for wisdom, a piece of the big puzzle.

    1. Brent,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. If you’re ever confused about anything, send an email to I’m always here to try and help in any way I can!

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  5. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back down the road. I want to encourage that you continue your great writing, have a nice morning!

    1. Kris,

      Which images are you not able to see? I’ll see if I can figure out why they are not displaying for you.

    1. Brian,

      Sorry for the issue. I will bring this up and see if we can resolve the issue.

  6. if asymmetrics act similar to symmetrics when the psa is in a weak position, what effect does it have when the psa is in a strong position? do longer pin to pap diistances still mean more length og more pop on the back?

    1. Gunnar,

      If the PSA is placed in a strong position, the longer Pin-to-PAP distance will flare more and blend the lane out more front to back because there is still some imbalance as the ball is rotating. If it is placed closer to the PAP, it will stabilize early and be much more predictable as it transitions down the lane. Reach out to me at if you have any further questions.

  7. Hello Alex, I have a pretty good understanding of what is being stated here. In the case of a short pin where the cg is only one inch away from the pin does it limit the driller to a shorter pap to pin distance? Can the cg be placed above the fingers if you wanted a longer pap to pin distance? What effects do shorter pins have on ball motion? And please if you would why are all balls different when it comes to cg to pin distance?

    1. Bill,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. With the new USBC rules taking effect, the Pin-to-CG distance is significantly less important than it was before. In terms of ball reaction, there is almost no difference between a 1″ Pin-to-CG distance and a 6″ Pin-to-CG distance. With the new USBC rules, you can drill a 1″ Pin-to-CG distance above the fingers and have the CG end up above the fingers as long as the ball has less than 3oz of finger weight. We were only allowed 1oz in the past so this made Pin-to-CG distance a bit more important when a bowler wanted to use specific layouts. Pin-to-CG distances vary because of many things that are difficult to control. If you are 1/64th of an inch off anywhere inside the ball, it can cause a 1-2″ variance in Pin-to-CG distance. We target for about 3″, but there will always be some variance both directions. This is good because some people like shorter distances and some like longer distances. Hopefully this helps. Thanks again for reading the article.

      1. I spin the ball and am looking for a layout that will fit the open tournament in Vegas. Want to try a short pin that allows a good amount of flare.

        1. Brian,
          Thanks for reading the article. If you have a bit more axis rotation and tilt, you are definitely going to want something a bit stronger overall to help it properly see the midlane and come off the pattern a bit smoother. I’ll give you a recommendation that you can take to your pro shop. I would go with something like 3 1/2 x 4 x 1. Of course, I can’t see your exact style or what you will be bowling on, so be sure to check with your PSO before drilling. Bowl up a Storm!

  8. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Concetta,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. We really appreciate the support.

  9. Do you measure the Pin-To-PAP distance from the center of the pin? Or from the bottom or base of the pin? Looks like in the diagrams the measurement is taken from the center of the pin. The reason I ask is that if you are trying to measure the drilling angle on a ball, if you draw a from the center of the pin through the PAP and then draw another one from the base of the pin though the PAP the difference can be much as 15 degrees when measuring the drilling angle on dual-angle layouts!

    1. Always measure from the center of the pin. That is the center of the X-Axis and should always be used as the point of reference. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  10. Thanks so much for your response! You do a fantastic job and I’m sure many of us appreciate the job you do educating bowlers!

  11. I just started experimenting with drilling on my own as it seems most of the local drillers really drill for the masses and I wanted to really learn more about the physics of why a ball does what it does. I really like how your article is written in laymen’s terms. How about adding a little more to the article about working just outside the strong pin to PAP? I’m guessing after reading your article that if I went to 4″, the ball would go a little longer before flipping and rolling and at 3″ it would flip and roll a little sooner? Thanks and you are now bookmarked!

    1. Fred,

      Thanks for reading the article. There are a lot of variables that go into drilling and if I were to cover every little detail, it would end up being a book! A 4″ Pin-to-PAP distance is definitely going to get down the lane a bit farther than a 3″ Pin-to-PAP distance will. They will utilize a similar amount of flare, but they are both utilizing different sides of the RG curve. 4″ is more towards the high RG side where 3″ is more towards the low RG side. Both are going to be fairly comparable in left-to right motion, but the 3″ Pin-to-PAP would be slightly stronger front to back. Hopefully this helps. Thanks again for taking the time to read the article.

    1. Angelo,

      Thanks for reaching out with your question. I always suggest asymmetrical equipment for shorter pin layouts because you have the PSA helping the ball continue through the pins more than you can get with a symmetrical. Short pin layouts require longer PSA-to-PAP distances. This helps the ball be extremely stable with the short pin, but not want to lose all energy before entering the pins. I would go with an asymmetrical. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  12. Excellent article. Between the figures showing how the ball rotates in real time and the explanations this bridges the gap for me understanding how to get the the ball motion I’m looking for after taking into account the cover stock. Really appreciate it.

    1. Wayne,

      Appreciate the kind words about the article. I’m glad it helped you out a bit. Bowl up a Storm!

      1. Hi Alex is it practical to put a short pin layout on the phase 3 or does it only work well with asym balls?

        1. Tommy,

          You can definitely do a short pin layout on any ball. I feel they are more effective on asymmetricals because you can manipulate it with the PSA a bit more, but there are times you want it in a symmetrical ball to go even straighter and more forward. Both are really good on the fresh when looking for control downlane. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  13. Hi Ernie. I’m a senior bowler with 14mph, and a low rev rate. I mostly bowl on dry torn up house conditions. I currently use 13lb balls. Any ball suggestions or layout suggestions? Thanks in advance for your help

    1. Marian,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Using a 13lb ball, you aren’t going to see dramatic differences in layouts because most lightweights use the same shape and have very similar dynamics. You’ll want to focus more on surface and coverstock to help your ball get farther down the lane especially bowling on drier house conditions. I’d suggest a 1500-Polished finish along with a pearlized coverstock. A Hy-Road Pearl or Electrify Pearl would fit in well based on what you are describing. Hopefully this helps. Thanks again for reading the article.

  14. Alex,

    Another great article. I feel concepts like PSA, PIN and PAP are sometimes “mythical” terms that an average bowler has difficulty grasping. For someone like myself who is an amauter that challenges himself in different local tournaments and competitive leagues, understanding layouts and selecting which layouts prove beneficial is a huge factor when trying to attack certain lane conditions. As well, it has helped me better understand how my individual ball motion also can benefit from certain layouts. I have always favored strong PIN-PAP layouts but I have come to appreciate how other layouts such as longer PIN-PAP has given me more versatility on difficult patterns or when playing a line that the pattern dictates.

    Awesome information and I enjoy reading.

    #Team Storm

    1. Jonathan,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. I’m glad it has made a difference for you. Keep bowling up a Storm!

  15. Great article. I experimented with a symmetrical ball with a 6 inch pin to pap (prior to reading the article), and I was amazed at the reaction I got from this layout. The ball got through the front part of the lane effortlessly and depending on how much hand I used it recovered from both the outside and inside part of the lane. Generally I used it on the fresh and also when the lanes were burned up. I have bowled at a high level for years (230 + in leagues) and have gone through some medical issues so the speed is not where it used to be. This pin placement really helps when I need to control the ball on dry or short patterns (amazing). I have experienced everything you indicated in the article, you hit it right on the money. I have some others questions on layouts and will reach out for some guidance if its ok. Thanks and keep the great information coming. GO STORM!

    1. Greg,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Glad to hear you are having some success on the lanes and found some use for this article. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us at We have a technical team that is ready to assist! Again, thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  16. thanks for this article . its really helped me to understand kinda why my ball reacts the way it does .also gave me info that my proshop couldnt explain this smoothly . now i can feel better about buying my next ball

    1. Mac,

      Thanks for reading the article. I’m glad it helped you out. We appreciate your support. Bowl up a Storm!

  17. Really good article and I am trying to learn things and being a senior a lot of it is confusing. I am slow speed and low revs. My axis oil line was about 4 5/8 inches from my finger hole. I just bought a Tropical Storm and also a Hy Road. I am left handed and when I got them drilled the pin is in the same location as right handed bowlers with the same balls have their pins. Both of them are on the right side. Just don’t understand how a right and left hand bowler, both with low speed and low revs can have the pin in the same place. Thank you for a good article.

    1. Edward,

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. When thinking about pin position, what matters most is where the pin is in relation to your PAP. All bowlers have unique PAP’s and there are some scenarios that the pin can end up in a similar position for a right and left handed player based on their style and what they are trying to accomplish with the ball and layout choice. Understanding how the core is oriented when the pin is different distances from the PAP and how that applies to your game is what you should focus on as opposed to how it compares to what other players use. Thanks again for reading the article. Glad you enjoyed it.

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