How to take advantage of Surface Preparation

This article will discuss some of the best ways for you to maintain your bowling equipment. We’ll also focus on tips and tricks to create the desired surface and ball reaction.

Coverstock adjustments can make all the difference in your overall ball reaction, but why? Weight block, layouts, and ball dynamics play a significant part in general ball reaction, but keep in mind that the ball's coverstock is touching the lane and interacting with the lane oil. Therefore, making surface alterations will play a significant role in affecting your ball reaction. Adding the appropriate surface to match the lane condition can make the difference in 5, 10, or even 20 pins a game.

Firstly, we’re going to discuss the daily maintenance that should be done on your bowling equipment. You need to be sure you’re wiping your ball off in between shots with a shammy or towel. This practice will do two things: It will slow down the oil absorbing into the coverstock by removing it after each throw and provide a clean surface for your ball. Nothing is more frustrating than leftover oil on your ball causing you to leave a pesky 10 or 7 pin. When you’re finished with your bowling session for the day, you’ll need to clean the ball with a towel (microfiber if possible) and your desired ball cleaner such as Reacta Clean, Xtra Clean, True Blue, or Reacta Foam. These are excellent products to remove all the dirt, grime, and oil from your bowling session. This will also restore the tacky feel to the coverstock that delivers a consistent reaction.

Next, we will be focusing on the use of Abralon pads and how to create surface texture on the coverstock. You can make surface adjustments by hand or on a ball spinner. Each Storm, Roto Grip, or 900 Global ball comes with a particular factory finish which can be found on the box of each ball. Keep in mind that this is the suggested surface for that ball, however, it can be adjusted to better match your game. For example, the Proton PhysiX comes out of the box at 2000-Grit Abralon. Suppose you’re a player with softer speed and have trouble getting the ball down the lane. You can make a slight adjustment with a 4000-grit pad or a small amount of polish to match your unique style for that ball. Adding surface to the coverstock could completely alter the ball's reaction, leading to a successful line to the pocket. This could give you a significant advantage on the field with just one minimal adjustment.

The beauty of surface changes is that there are virtually endless options you can create. Don’t be afraid to try unique surface preparations that might work for your style on that any condition. Some noteworthy surface changes could be taking the ball down to 1000-grit and immediately adding a layer of polish. This will create a cleaner but smoother and predictable motion on the ball. Next, try taking one of the weaker balls in your bag and add a 1000 or 2000-grit Abralon surface. This allows you to play straighter and create a controllable reaction on fresher conditions. One last surface suggestion is what we call a "sheen." This is when you surface your ball to 500-grit for 30 seconds, then 3000-grit for 10 seconds, and finish with a light coat of polish.

As bowlers and competitors, we’re continuously looking to increase our scores and create the most performance out of our equipment. Focusing on maintaining your coverstock and building surface textures to fit the condition will single-handedly produce higher scores and more consistent results.


Making the best of your practice session

In this article, we are going to discuss a vital part of improving your game: practice, practice, practice. Too many bowlers, the idea of practice could be a daunting or misunderstood task. We’re all guilty of throwing shot after shot for hours without a goal to accomplish or feeling like we don't have enough time to work on our game.  Throughout this article, we’ll talk about what tools you can use to improve your physical game and how to best use your time when on a strict schedule. In addition, we’re going to lay out a detailed plan depending on how much time you have whether you have less than 20 minutes, between 20 minutes and an hour, or more than an hour.

The first and most important facet of practice is creating structure within your practice. Creating a plan will help you use your time wisely and get the most of your practice session. There will be two training details that will stay consistent with all three of the time options: drills and not keeping scores.

So, you have around 20 minutes for a practice session, and you’re looking to take full advantage of that time. Let's start by splitting your 20 minutes into two ten-minute sections. The first ten-minute section will be dedicated to drills and pinpointing one aspect of your game you want to improve. For example, if you're going to improve your balance at the line, do 10 minutes of one-step drills and focusing on a stable finish position. Once the first ten minutes have been completed, we now take what was focused on during the drills and incorporate that into a full approach to finish out the practice session.

Let’s now outline the structure for our 1-hour session. For this time frame, we will maintain the same focus for drills and further expand from there. This is the time you can better your game by working on something you consider a weakness. For example, if you struggle with creating an end-over-end ball roll, you can spend about 30-40 minutes of that practice session focusing on that improvement. The most prominent mistake bowlers can make when practicing is working on multiple changes at one time. When you take the time and dedicate your focus to one singular improvement, this will help you see a significant amount of progress in an hour-long session. If available, video recording your session is key. This way you can watch the progress and note improvements from start to finish.

Say you have 1-2 or more hours to practice. We’re going to start with utilizing the advantage of drills. No matter the amount of time you have, drills will always be a great way to start a practice session. This helps reinforce good mechanics and solid fundamentals. Once the drills have been completed, there are a few more elements that we can incorporate to get the most out of our practice. As you know there are many ways to manipulate a bowling ball, and within this allotted time, we can work on versatility. A few skills that can be developed are increasing and decreasing axis rotation, lofting the ball, increasing and reducing ball speed, manipulating rev rate, and increasing and decreasing axis tilt. If you can become comfortable with making these changes when the lane pattern is calling for it, you’ll have a better chance to maintain hitting the pocket as the lane continues to transition. We can now finish up this practice session with spare shooting. Working through a practice spare cycle is a great way to wrap up a practice session.

As we can see, practice is a crucial part of improving your game. These are just a few ideas that can help structure your practice and get the most out of your time. Practicing is not a one size fits all experience; you can get as creative as you like to better your game and enjoy your practice on the lanes.


READING A BOWLING BALL BOX LABEL

  

One of the most exciting times as a bowler has come. It’s time to drill a brand-new Storm bowling ball! There’s no better feeling than walking into your pro shop to drill a new piece of equipment. The importance of choosing the right drilling is key to get the full potential of that ball. Many resources can be used to help map out the correct layout. There’s one piece of information that many bowlers overlook when researching information on their new ball. That is, of course, the label on the bowling ball box. In this article, we’ll discuss each detail on the label and how this information can help decide the correct layout.

At the top of the label, you will find the name of the ball. For this example, we featured the Storm Incite. Just under the ball number, you will find the logo image engraved on the ball. Depending on the color scheme and the name of each color of the ball, you will find the color pallet as the backdrop of the logo image. This will then be followed by something that separates Storm from other ball manufacture brands, and that is going to be the fragrance name feature on that Storm ball. The Incite features a Cherry Vanilla as the scent.

Diving into the information and specs of the ball, we are first going to give attention to the gross weight. This displays the overall weight of the undrilled ball. Just under the gross weight, you’ll find an image of the ball's core. Top weight is a term used to refer to the weight difference measured from the top half of a bowling ball compared to the bottom half of the ball. The pin distance refers to the distance between the colored pin and the CG (center of gravity) marking on the ball. In this case, the Incite has a top weight of 2.50oz and a pin distance of 2.5-3-inches. This is valuable information when deciding the layout of the ball.

Continuing down the label, we’ll find the coverstock and ball finish. For this example, the coverstock on the Storm Incite is R4S™ Hybrid Reactive finished at 3000-grit Abralon. This coverstock is wrapped around the new asymmetric Tensor™ Core. This information is followed by the RG (radius of gyration) and differential of the ball. The Incite’s RG and differential is 2.50 and 0.053 respectively in 15lbs. The next question is, what is does RG and differential mean, and how does it affect your ball reaction? Simply put, the higher the RG, the later the ball is going to hook, or transition and the lower the RG the earlier the ball is going to hook. The overall differential will affect how much the ball will hook. The higher the differential, the more the ball is going to hook.

Now we’re going to breakdown the meaning of the serial number on the ball. The first two digits represent the year the ball was manufactured followed by the three letters of the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) of the ball. This is the individual SKU for this ball and we can track this ball in our inventory. The next character is the letter for the month. “A” represents January, “B” is February, “C” is March, and so on. The next two characters will identify the day of the month, followed by the letter representation of the engraver it was engraved on, and the final three numbers represent the ball number that came from that engraver for the day. Finally, the very bottom of the label features the barcode, website, and the ball's full SKU as the last part of the label.

Getting a new ball will always exude confidence and excitement for every bowler. With all the excitement, the question still stands: "How should I drill this ball?" Always keep in mind there’s plenty of useful material about your new ball on the box label. Before you toss that box away, be sure to utilize all the valuable information you can about your new ball.

 


How to Read a Lane Pattern Graph

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have arrived at your next tournament, paid your entry fee, and notice there is a lane pattern graph? The only problem is, you are not completely sure what you are looking at or how to read that abundant useful information. This article will explain each piece of the lane graph’s importance and how it will impact your lane play.

Pattern Distance:

First, we want to review the pattern graph from top to bottom, starting with the oil pattern distance. For this example, we used the 2020 Storm Utah Open Pattern. We can see that the overall pattern distance is 41ft. This distance falls into the medium pattern category. Now armed with this information, we know there could be multiple attack angles to get to the pocket. Typically, on shorter patterns that fall between 32 feet and 36 feet, bowlers are forced to play the outside part of the lane. In contrast to the longer patterns, 43 feet and longer bowlers are forced to play the deeper inside part of the lane. Therefore, the pattern distance between 37 feet and 42 feet allows the bowler to play multiple angles depending on your ball choice and style.

Pattern Volume:

The next part of the lane graph we will discuss is the Volume Oil Total, better known as the thickness of the oil, applied on the lane. This will be the overall combined volume of oil between the forward oil and reverse oil. As we see in the photo provided, the forward oil total is 20.295 mL, and the reverse oil total is 10.26 for a round total volume of 30.555 mL of oil. Based on today’s standards, this would be considered a higher volume pattern. In comparison, most house patterns have between 22-24 mL of oil. This information will dictate the amount of surface grit to use on your bowling ball, and a good indication of how fast or slow the pattern will break down.

Pattern Ratio:

Moving down the lane graph sheet, we are going to discuss the load structure. This will be a key component of the overall difficulty of the pattern. When using a Kegel lane machine, you have an oil head that moves back and forth at a constant rate and applies that oil to the lane from left to right. As we review the graph for the 2020 Utah Open, we see this pattern has 8 loads of 2 to 2’s. Now, what does this mean? The oil head will apply conditioner on the lane from the 2 board on the left to the 2 board on the right. The more oil applied toward the gutter means the ball will overall hook less as the bowler misses to the outside boards. Therefore, most house patterns will very little 2 to 2’s, if any at all. A typical house pattern’s ratio is around 8 to 1, while this Utah Open pattern ratio is around 1.5 to 1. This means the lower the ratio, the more difficult the pattern will play.

Oil Overlay:

In the last part, we are going to cover the oil overlay of the pattern. The image on the right of the sheet showing an overhead view of the pattern as it would look if the oil had color instead of being invisible.  This effectively shows how the lane machine is applying the oil throughout both passes of the oiling process. The darkest blue is showing the highest concentration of oil in that part of the lane. This is the part of that lane that will create the most amount skid. The teal color box labeled “forward” represents the oil applied during the forward pass heading towards the pins, while the blue box labeled reverse” is the oil applied on the pass coming back to the foul line. The final color is the light blue box labeled “buff.” The buff is once the lane machine stops spraying oil on the lane, the machine rolls out the rest of the oil to correct 41ft distance.


Preparation is key when wanting to better your game and getting bowlers ready for the next event. Having a better understanding of how to read a lane graph will help prepare bowling equipment, surface preparation, and where to start during that valuable practice time.


Proton PhysiX vs AstroPhysiX vs PhysiX

For this test, I drilled one of each of the balls in question and used the same 4.5 x 4.5 x 2 layout across the board. It’s logical to claim they’re going to roll different, but we want to find out just how different.

I tested these balls in three different oil pattern scenarios with the thought in mind that each one would play to a particular strength of each ball. For this test, I will find the optimal line to demonstrate where I would have to play with each ball on each pattern.

Storm is in an interesting position right now. It’s producing relevant and useful bowling balls that all serve a purpose. So how does the company continue to advance the frontier of bowling ball science? Easy: always be at the drawing board. If you’re not at the drawing board, you’re not in the game. You’re something else. By standing at the edge of what is known and unknown, you can create a tried and tested quiver of covers and cores at your disposal. One thing Storm has been particularly good at over the years is evoking memories of previous balls with new releases, which will tug on the heartstrings of bowlers as they fondly remember the gear that they have used over the years.

The Proton PhysiX isn’t only the third representation of the Atomic Core, it comes from a wholly different classification of coverstocks different from its predecessors: the PhysiX and AstroPhysiX. If there wasn’t enough contrast between R2S Pearl and NRG Hybrid on the PhysiX and AstroPhysiX respectfully, throw NeX Solid into the crucible and you pretty much have yourself a full 3-ball arsenal.

As many of you probably know all too well, R2S (particularly in its pearlized form) is the cleanest, most responsive (to friction) coverstock development of this century. NRG itself has been around for nearly ten years and still performs as admirably today as it did a decade ago. When we were first deliberating amongst ourselves which cover to put on the now iconic Atomic Core, the two most noteworthy formulas of our generation were the obvious choices. In typical Storm progression a pearl, solid, and hybrid version of most core types gets introduced worldwide. But rarely, if ever, do we see three balls as diverse as the Proton PhysiX, AstroPhysiX, and PhysiX in such a short timeframe all thanks to their own contrasting chemical elements.

BOWLER STATS:

Launch Speed: 17.5mph

RPM: 450

Tilt:

Rotation: 45°

PAP: 5” straight over

Layout Used for Test: 4.5 x 4.5 x 2 (55° x 4.5 x 30°)

Surface Used: Proton PhysiX: 2000-grit, PhysiX: 3000-grit, AstroPhysiX: 1500-grit Polished

Oil Patterns: Broadway, 37’, 4.09:1, 23.25 mL; Carbon, 42', 10.36:1, 24.60 mL; Statue of Liberty, 47', 3.05:1, 24.73 mL.

 

Highlights from the test:

https://youtu.be/Z22yFF0DR_Q


THE RESULTS

On a condition I would typically use urethane, you can bet that anything will hook on this 37' 4.09:1 pattern. The trick is controlling the ball and the pocket, which is why urethane is a vital resource for anything shorter than 40', depending on lane surface and player style, of course. I did not alter any of the balls' surfaces so the Proton PhysiX stayed at 2000-grit, the PhysiX at 3000-grit, and the AstroPhysiX remained polished. Naturally, the AstroPhysiX played the furthest right with the most entry angle. The Proton naturally had the deepest laydown, but put me in a zone I'd prefer not to be in because it was simply too deep on this shorter pattern. In a perfect world, I would be using urethane on this pattern. But if all I had was reactive, I would drill a Proton PhysiX with a shorter pin, keep it dull, and stay right for as long as I could. The other two balls were just too quick when they encountered friction.

On a 42' 10.36:1 pattern, you can take your pick of what you want to roll. This type of pattern lends itself to many styles, balls, and angles of attack. With this much oil in the middle and friction to the outside, there's a clearly defined breakpoint here and it's going to be outside of 5. The Proton wasn't a bad look, but it started me too deep than I'd prefer. For my style on this pattern, smoother surfaces usually prevail. I appreciated the entry angle the AstroPhysiX was able to provide and I know that as the lanes transition I can stay in this ball the longest while still maintaining great finish down lane.

On the 47' 3.05:1 Statue of Liberty surface will be key. The two balls I would bring to tackle this pattern would surely be the PhysiX and Proton PhysiX. This type of condition is exactly what these balls were built for. As you can see from the graph above the AstroPhysiX struggled to go through the pins the proper way and probably wouldn't become an option for this pattern until very late in the day. I really had to focus on speed control just to be sure to hit the pocket with the AstroPhysiX. However, one of the niceties in the PhysiX lineup is that it's never been easier to adjust between balls. Stepping up to the PhysiX or Proton PhysiX was the obvious choice for this longer pattern.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

The most notable design feature of all three balls is their finish down lane en route back to the pocket. The Atomic Core left me in that confident state of mind where the ball is going to flare when and where I need it to. Because the PhysiX and AstroPhysiX have already been established, it’s important to note the Proton PhysiX has a specific target market of bowlers who are either beginners looking for extra help in hooking the ball, leaguers who need to blend out wet/dry, or high-level tournament players who need the teeth and flare to cut through the heavy conditions they regularly face. You can swing for the fences with this one - there’s no concern of it not making the turn back.

The colors provide instant feedback on just how quickly the Proton loses axis rotation, slows down, and gets rolling forward. This can come in especially handy because of just how strong the ball is and becomes a good indicator when it’s proper time to shell or even ball down. There’s always a bit of a trade-off with midlane read and entry angle when it comes to a ball like this, and you definitely don’t get the same sharp turn as you would on an AstroPhysiX. Understanding the design intent of each ball should make the adjustments between the two that much easier.

The Proton PhysiX was intended to make life easier for bowlers who need to dig in and create some significant motion front to back. The bottom line from this review – that is absolutely true. You can be confident that no matter which “PhysiX” you choose, it’ll have all of Storm’s best research and development technologies packed into it.


How to Prepare Your Tournament Arsenal

For this article, we will be discussing and outlining the steps it takes to decide the most versatile and completive 6-ball arsenal. When choosing the correct 6 balls you must keep in mind a few keys factors to ensure you are selecting the best arsenal for the event.  You want to make sure you have a good mix of RG’s, differentials, coverstocks, and surfaces. Being sure to avoid having too many of the same type of bowling ball. Each ball serves a purpose in creating the correct shape or ball motion that the lane is calling for. Think of it as a toolbox. Saws are used for cutting, a hammer is used for nails, etc. Therefore, looking at your bowling equipment in the same way will make that decision making easier.


Fresh/Benchmark Ball

The first ball we are going to discuss the “Fresh Ball”, which is better known as your benchmark ball. Usually, this ball is the first ball out of your bag when are preparing for practice. The purpose of this ball will be the blend out the wet/dry, creating a predictable motion, and provide an overall feel for the pattern. For example, if the fresh ball over-reacts, we now know we throw a weaker option and vice-versa. If the fresh ball doesn’t hook quite enough on that pattern, we now know we can throw one of our ball-up options.

Ball Up

The second and third ball in our 6-ball arsenal is going to be the ‘Ball-Up’ option. This ball is used once the lane first starts to break down and move into more oil. Typically, this ball is going to be a touch stronger overall and is going to create more shape on the lane, increasing your margin for error and producing higher scores. For the majority of players, one or both balls will feature an asymmetrical weight block.

Late Hook

The next ball up for discussion will be the “Late Hook.” This ball will be best used when the lane gets into a later transition. It  allows you to start shutting down your angles through the fronts but, will still respond when the ball gets to the dry. When the lane breaks down enough and requires you to play straighter, but you still need the ball to recover off the friction, then a ball change is needed and the ‘Burn-Ball’ which we will discuss next will be the right choice for this reaction.

Burn Ball

Now we have discussed the first 4 balls of our arsenal and next is the “Burn-Ball.” It will be the weakest and smoothest reactive ball on your bag. Its purpose is to create very little shape, allowing you to shut down your angles and play closer to the pocket. This ball will perform best when needing to play fallback, or “shim” the lane.

Plastic/Urethane

The sixth and final ball with be either urethane or plastic. This can be a very useful weapon when competing in tournament conditions. This will, of course, be used for spare shooting, but urethane is a great option too for fresh oil conditions, flatter patterns, and blending the wet/dry early in the event.

Keep in mind there are many variations of this arsenal that can be made. The house player can apply this to create a 3-ball arsenal, while the recreational or competitive player can use this same information to create a 4, 5 or 6 ball arsenal.


Below you will find the detailed process from our Technical Service Representative Chayton Petersen on how he decided 6-ball arsenal:

Since I’m rev dominant, my selection of balls will differ slightly than Kendle’s who is speed dominant. I have to rely upon the weight block clearing the fronts while still getting into a roll before it meets the pins. I favor high RG balls with weaker layouts so the weight block doesn’t transition as fast. I will walk you through my list of six balls I would take to a tournament based on my style.

Fresh/Benchmark

The Phaze II is my go-to benchmark for a few key reasons. First, any good benchmark ball gives you predictability, and that’s exactly what Phaze 2 does. Its combination of low RG, high differential, and a strong cover give me a motion I can rely on with any pattern. Although rev dominant players lean towards higher RG’s, low RG’s deliver this predictable motion that I need to give me an accurate representation of how the lane is playing. Combine that with a solid, aggressive cover that blends the lane out, I know exactly where the lane hooks, where it doesn’t, and where I should be playing.

Ball Up Option 1

The Axiom is my strong ball because of NeX, Storm’s strongest cover. The Axiom digs in the best on high volume and longer length patterns. A medium-strength layout provides me just enough length to match my ball speed. Sometimes, an asymmetric ball can hook too much or too early. Since the Orbital Core is symmetric, it stays in constant motion because it doesn’t have a high undrilled PSA torqueing the ball in one direction versus another.

Ball Up Option 2

The Parallax is a great additional ball-up option for me with its unique weight block and cover combination. The higher RG, differential, and strong undrilled PSA proved me the boosted torque I need down lane when I need to move left and hook the ball. Utilizing a weaker layout on the Parallax, I’m able to keep the ball in my hand longer. As the lanes break down and I need to step left, TractionX7 gets me through the front part of the lane while offering midlane read to help me control the pocket, especially on tougher patterns. Thankfully, versatility comes in spades because the cover easily accepts surface manipulations. When I need slightly more dig, I can put some surface on the ball and get it to read the lane sooner and blend the lane out more.

Late Hook

When I need a strong motion down lane and a clean look through the fronts, the Hy-Road Pearl is my go-to ball. R2S Pearl is the best choice when the front part of the lane starts to go away. As a rev dominant player, my ball wants to read early, and that is why getting a cover as clean and responsive as R2S is will help me get the ball to the correct part of the lane. Inverted Fe2 has the highest RG of all high-performance Storm balls and thanks to its higher differential it has no shortage of movement at the end of the pattern and at the pins.

Burn Ball

The most challenging conditions I face are when the lanes get burned. I find myelf running out of room to the left, but I still need the ball to get to the pins without using energy up too soon. The Electrify Pearl fits the bill in this situation. Reactor Pearl gives me the most amount of length I can afford when the lanes get bad. Because the differential isn’t too high or too low, the Circuit Core gives me a predictable motion that isn’t too much off of the spot. I am able to square up and shim the ball off of the friction in order to not have to cross too many boards.

Plastic/Urethane

Storm has several urethane options for various styles. For how I like to play, I prefer to use the Fast Pitch because of its slightly cleaner look compared to the Pitch Black. It still features a higher RG than most Storm cores so that allows rev dominant players like me to keep my angles shut down. I can still shape the Fast Pitch when I need to, though. An added benefit to carrying a urethane with you at all times is doubling it up as a spare ball. This frees up a slot in my bag and adds to my overall layout versatility.


Bowling Ball Motion: The Basics

There are many variables that can affect the way your ball rolls, but why should you care? Some are related to the way you release it and your unique delivery. Other variables can be credited to that evil lane man and how he conditions the lane. Then there are factors that are above and beyond anyone’s control, and, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change them. We are going to discuss the subtle distinctions in how you roll the ball and what you can control in your game that play a bigger role than you might think. Understanding these characteristics will help you in choosing your next ball and, furthermore, help your pro shop operator decide a layout for your brand new toy.

https://youtu.be/lh0nWHT9p4I


WHAT IS SURFACE?

The chemical composition in conjunction with the surface preparation of the coverstock matters greatly. A solid coverstock with a low grit surface texture will lose speed at a higher rate than a polished, pearlized coverstock. Friction reduces ball speed, so this actuality is highly linear with that of wood lanes or lanes that have not been oiled in a long time. Harder lane materials usually require more ball surface whilst softer lanes demand less ball surface. Fact: You will never meet a professional bowler of today that dislikes a good amount of texture on their ball. Why? Not only do they recognize the fact that when a ball rolls into the pocket it carries significantly better than a ball that skids into the pocket, but it also reduces the vast majority of any over/under reaction tendencies; a bowler’s worst nightmare. Not saying polish on a ball is a bad thing by any means, just that there's a time and place for both and it's the bowler's responsibility to know when to use it.

WHAT IS SPEED?

Bowlers with high ball speeds and without the revs to match can be considered “speed dominant.” They will typically favor more aggressive surfaces and layouts to help their ball pick up sooner on the lane. “Rev dominant” players with slower ball speeds typically like less aggressive balls, layouts, and surfaces to help prevent their ball from overreacting. Did you know that your ball decelerates as it travels down the lane? Depending on its surface, it can lose 3-5mph every shot. So, when you see the speedometer clock your ball on the scoring monitor, it’s taking that measurement down by the pins, not at your release.

WHAT IS REV RATE?

Rev rate is a calculation of the amount of revolutions a bowler imparts on a ball. The common unit used is revolutions per minute, or RPM. Over the years, bowlers have generalized the RPM gamut into three categories: stroker, tweener, and cranker. Understanding your rev rate (and its relationship with your speed, axis tilt/rotation) is important because it helps to categorize your specific needs as a bowler. Knowing what type of ball to buy, what techniques need to be applied, or the type of wrist device needed all depend heavily on your rev rate.

WHAT IS AXIS TILT?

Axis tilt is the vertical angle at which the ball rotates. Commonly known as spin, axis tilt is determined by the position of the thumb during the release. If the hand turns too early, the thumb exits on top of the ball. Bowlers with a high degree of axis tilt will be able to see the top of their hand during the release and follow through. The resultant path of a ball with a higher degree of axis tilt is extended and the amount of backend potential is reduced. Oily lanes become quite difficult when the core is rotating in a vertical fashion but is actually favored on drier lanes. Being able to have the thumb exit at the bottom of the forward swing minimizes axis tilt. The lower the axis tilts, the sooner the ball will enter its roll phase before making impact with the pins.

WHAT IS AXIS ROTATION?

Axis rotation is the horizontal measure of the angle of the ball’s revolutions, and much like axis tilt, it is also determined by the bowler’s release. Axis rotation is commonly known today as side roll. When the ball has no axis rotation, the fingers exited directly underneath the ball at the 6 o’clock position. End-over-end roll (0° of axis rotation) removes all hook potential from the ball regardless of the amount of revolutions, speed, or lane conditions. High amounts of axis rotation (90° of rotation) will cause the ball to skid further, but unlike axis tilt, will cause an intense hook angle at the breakpoint. Players with high amounts of axis rotation will favor drier lanes, and lower amounts of axis rotation usually like more oil. Higher amounts of friction will cause the ball to lose axis rotation at higher rates. Initial axis rotation, ball speed, axis tilt, and lane friction all dictate when side revolutions become end-over-end revolutions. Generally speaking, balls skid, then hook, then roll. Less rotation will shorten the skid phase and get the ball into the hook phase earlier, while maximum rotation will extend the skid phase of the ball and increase its hook potential down lane. Manipulating your axis rotation is a valuable tool because it will change the ball’s reaction while still allowing you to stay in the same part of the lane and use the same break point. Ideally, you would like to limit lateral moves on the lane because it forces you to make multiple adjust­ments with speed, tilt, etc. and often, particularly on challenging conditions, the zone you’re going to have to play and the break point are pretty defined.


Through practice, you can alter or enhance your ball speed, rev rate, axis tilt, and axis rotation. The best bowlers in the world have the ability to manipulate any and/or all of these at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, having a solid understanding of surface and when to use it is equally as essential. Technology of the sport today only enhances the subtleties of your game. Rubber balls and wooden surfaces did not place an emphasis on shot making versatility. Ball technology and oil patterns of the modern era force quick-changing conditions and different parts of the lane to be utilized that were not in play thirty years ago. Knowing your roll is more important now than ever before.


PARALLAX | LAYOUT COMPARISON | PIN BUFFER DISTANCE

This article is the third and final part of our three-part series where we are looking into the effect of different layouts with the Parallax and the all-new Aeroflo Core. The previous two articles have shown that changing the pin-to-PAP and PSA-to-PAP distances can cause tremendous change in ball motion for particular styles of players. The final question is... What effect will large changes in the pin buffer distance have on ball motion?

To find out, I drilled 3 different Parallax bowling balls. I used a consistent pin-to-PAP distance of 5 ½” and a consistent PSA-to-PAP distance of 4” on all 3 balls. The only difference between each of the 3 balls was that they utilized a different pin Buffer distance. I went with 1”, 3”, and 5” pin buffer distances to showcase the differences the pin buffer can make in ball reaction for my particular style. When looking at any layout comparison, it’s extremely important to keep your bowler statistics in mind. Ball speed, rev rate, axis rotation, and axis tilt will all play a large role in what ball motion you will see out of certain layout combinations and how much difference you will see between different layouts. For this article’s sake, it’s important to keep in mind that I have slower ball speed of approximately 15mph combined with a slightly higher rev rate of 350rpm. I have a medium amount of axis tilt at 18° and slightly higher axis rotation at approximately 60°. This combination of bowler statistics allows bigger differences to be seen between each of the balls. Another bowler who is more speed dominant with less rotation might not see as big of a difference in the reaction. The differences will always be unique to your particular style so it’s important to understand who you are as a player.


I split the testing up into 3 separate tests. For test #1, I lined up to strike with 5 ½ x 4 x 1 Parallax, then threw the other two in the exact same place to see how they would compare. For test #2, I lined up to strike with the 5 ½ x 4 x 3 Parallax, then threw the other two in the exact same place to how they would compare. For test #3, I lined up to strike with the 5 ½ x 4 x 5 Parallax, then threw the other two in the exact same place to see how they would compare. Overhead lane graphs for each of the tests are shown.

Results from test #1 show that I was forced the farthest left of any of the tests to strike with the 1” Parallax. Shorter pin buffers cause the ball to transition from skid to hook to roll faster as they transition down the lane. Because of this quick transition, the 1” Parallax was the only ball that was able to get back to the pocket and strike. Both of the other test balls transitioned from skid to hook to roll too slowly to make it back from that deep of an angle. They needed more friction to accomplish what the 1" Parallax was able to do on the fresh. The 1” Parallax created the most entry angle at 5.2° and finished the highest of the 3 balls on the head pin at 16.50.


Results from test #2 show that I was forced back to the right in order to strike with the 3” Parallax since it transitioned slower than the 1” Parallax used in test #1. Utilizing this medium pin buffer distance made the ball transition very smoothly down the lane and gave a very benchmark type of ball reaction. As expected, the 1” Parallax thrown in the same place hooked more and earlier overall because of the faster transition caused by the shorter pin buffer. The 5” Parallax hooked less overall and transitioned even slower causing it to not have enough time to change direction and get to the pocket from that deep of an angle. Similar to the previous test results, the 5” Parallax gave the least amount of entry angle and hooked the least overall because it’s the slowest of the 3 balls transitioning down the lane. More friction is needed to get the 5" Parallax to see the lane the right way.


Results from test #3 show that my feet needed to be the farthest right of any of the balls tested to strike with the 5” Parallax. Utilizing longer pin buffers will cause the ball to transition much slower. They need to encounter enough friction to help them get from skid to hook to roll quick enough to properly get through the pins. This typically makes longer pin buffers better when playing straighter as opposed to hooking the entire lane, unless there is a significant amount of friction on the lane. As expected, both the 1” Parallax and 3” Parallax test balls both out-hooked and created more overall entry angle compared to the 5” Parallax thrown in the same place.


Moving into the dynamics of the drilled bowling balls, you’re going to notice that there isn’t as drastic of a difference in RG’s, total differential’s, or intermediate differential’s as one might expect with such large changes in pin position from the different pin buffers. This really shows how the Aeroflo Core is unique. It maintains its dynamics through multiple drilling combinations. The Aeroflo Core does this because of the elliptical cavity found on the inside. In my 5 ½ x 4 x 1 Parallax, the thumb goes straight into the elliptical cavity. Since the thumb hole is removing lighter core material far from the pin, the total differential doesn’t go up as much as one might expect. In contrast, on the 5 ½ x 4 x 5 Parallax, the thumb goes straight above the elliptical cavity. Since the thumb hole is removing heavier weight block material and it's still more than 3 ⅜” from the pin, the total differential doesn’t drop as much as one might expect. The key takeaway here is that the Aeroflo Core is extremely driller friendly and easily accepts many different layout combinations to suit any style of player. Even though we don’t see large changes dynamically through drilling, there will still be distinct differences in ball motion because of the initial orientation of the mass and migration of the weight block as it transitions down the lane. Let’s take a closer look at some on-lane performance testing.



Overall, we saw some very consistent results across the 3 different tests from the 1”, 3”, & 5” pin buffer distances. The shorter the pin buffer, the stronger both front-to-back and left-to-right the ball motion was. As we started increasing the pin buffer distance, we saw less and less overall performance. We were forced more and more to the right in order to strike. As we talked about in the beginning these differences could be magnified or minimized depending on the player’s style and what they are bowling on. Simply understanding what is happening when you change the Pin Buffer distance is the first step into translating it into how it’s going to affect your particular game on whatever you are bowling on that day.

 

Highlights from the test:

https://youtu.be/ToUaVOB12_g

 


High Performance Asymmetrical

Parallax | Layout Comparison | PSA-to-PAP

Steve Kloempken | USBC Hall of Fame

 

For this article, the second in a three part series, we are going to continue our deep dive into understanding the effect of different layouts with the Parallax™ and its new Aeroflo™ Core.

As we learned in our first article featuring Chad McLean and his demonstration of different Pin to PAP distances, adjusting the distance of the pin from your positive axis point creates a much different ball motion, especially for those with higher rev rates because they have the greater hook potential. One with a very low rev rate and low axis rotation would surely not see as much of a difference between layouts. My bowler stats wouldn’t quite put me in the very low rev rate category, but as we dive into the results, know that, if your rev rate is faster than mine, you may see an even bigger difference in ball motion by adjusting the PSA.

For this article and video, we locked in two of the three measurements of the layout, the Pin to PAP and the Pin buffer distance. As you can see in the image here, doing so positioned the pin just above and outside of the ring finger. If we were to keep with the standards of the warranty requirements, we would have shortened the pin buffer to create more space between the edges of the pin and the ring finger, so please keep that into consideration as you or your pro shop operator select layouts for you.

Before hitting the lanes, we wanted to share the following information which many consider to be highly technical. So, if that’s not you, feel free to jump ahead to get right into the effects the layout adjustments had on ball motion! Many are familiar with the RGs (radius of gyration) and differentials as they are located on nearly every crazy 8 displayed in all pro shops as well as every ball page on every manufacturers website. But what you won’t always hear come up is that these RG values, and thus differentials, change once holes are drilled in the ball. There is no escaping or changing that…it happens whether you like it or not.

In this image you will see that the RG values remained quite constant among the three different drilled balls, with one exception. Can you spot it?

It’s the third number in the 5 x 2 x 2… the intermediate mass bias of 0.021. While that ball remained the closest to the un-drilled ball, you can see in looking at all three drilled balls that the other two balls, the 5 x 4 x 2 and 5 x 6 x 2, were the most similar to each other dynamically speaking.

Stepping up on the lanes, we started with the 5 x 2 x 2 to see what type of motion we would get with it and to use that as the baseline for this test.

*Notice the PSA close to the VAL

We selected Kegel’s 39 foot Middle Road pattern which would typically entice you to position your breakpoint near the 8 board when using Kegel’s “Rule of 31” which says that if you take the length of the oil pattern and subtract 31 that you will get the point at which your ball should leave the oil to have the best angle to towards the pocket.

Sliding 22 and keeping our target at the 12 board gave us a great look to the pocket. This type of layout, with the PSA near the VAL (vertical axis line), is most often preferred by players at the highest level looking to gain a reasonable amount of control on the backend. And if you look at the numbers below, specifically the position at the head pin and the entry angle, you will see that this one, the 5 x 2 x 2, ended up the most light in the pocket and produced the least amount of entry angle.

 

Moving on to the second Parallax, the 5 x 4 x 2 layout, we immediately notice the ball finishing much deeper in the pocket, almost a board and a half!

*PSA just right of thumb

That may not sound like much, but rest assured that it was eye opening since we used Specto to confirm that nothing had changed with respect to our speed and laydown or launch angle. We were strictly seeing the effects of moving the PSA 2 inches farther away from the PAP than in the first test. We also saw our entry angle go up from 3.59 degrees to 4.16, an increase of more than 15%. These are some big numbers where looking at what some view as slight tweaks to the layout.

And finally, we rolled the third Parallax, the 5 x 6 x 2, which positioned the PSA just to the left side of the thumb hole.

*5 x 6 x 2

A layout not typically used or as popular for those looking for a big change of direction, the 5 x 6 x 2 created the latest break point distance of the three. And with respect to the total ball motion, which references the position of the ball at the head pin, and to entry angle, we saw this third Parallax fall right in-between the first two on both accords. It was a fine balance of an aggressive skid-flip motion with ample control. We could see this one working on a wide variety of conditions and surfaces, especially if you’re like me with respect to a lower rev rate and a preference to play the lanes with a more direct line to the pocket.

 

In summary, thanks for your interest in learning some of the finer details with respect to layouts. For more detailed information and understanding, be sure to visit Storm’s YouTube channel and search for the Pin Buffer Layout System. You’ll find three very detailed videos that are sure to help you dial in your arsenal of equipment with ball choices and layouts in no time. To see the video specific to PSA location, watch the video below:

 

If you have any further questions, please contact us anytime at tech@stormbowling.com or call us at 800-369-4402.

 


Parallax | Layout Comparison | Pin-to-PAP

For this comparison test, I selected three different layouts each with the same pin buffer and PSA values but differing pin-to-PAP distances. I will find the optimal line with each ball/layout and roll similar lines with them to distinguish each ball’s unique layout characteristics.

 

The pin-to-PAP is unquestionably the most influential variable in the layout selection process. It's immensely important to not only look at the innate characteristics built into the balls themselves, but the layouts, most specifically the pin-to-PAP distance, as well. For an in-depth analysis of what pin-to-PAP distances represent in bowling ball layout application, be sure to check out Alex Hoskins' thorough column on the subject here.

I’ve maintained the pin buffer and PSA radii with each of these layouts but adjusted the pin-to-PAP separation across the test balls in 2” increments.

 

BOWLER STATS:

Launch Speed: 18mph

RPM: 480

Tilt:

Rotation: 45°

Layouts Used for Test: 2 x 5 x 1.5 (30° x 2 x 50°), 4 x 5 x 1.5 (60° x 4 x 25°), 6 x 5 x 1.5 (65° x 6 x 20°)

Surface Used on All Balls: 1500-grit Polished

Oil Patterns: 1.) Broadway V2, 37', 4.77:1, 26.45 mL  2.) Tungsten, 39', 6.25:1, 25.60 mL  3.) Beaten Path, 41’, 4.04:1, 24.25 mL


The 2 x 5 x 1.5 layout is an option for players looking for stability. When the patterns are short without much hold and urethane isn't an option, shorter pin-to-PAP distances become the go-to choice. In this instance, the Aeroflo Core is almost completely laid on its side which puts it in a lower RG orientation. The lower the RG orientation, the less resistant the ball will be to changing direction down lane. This type of layout rolls early and smooths out the breakpoint shape; smoothness equals predictability here. The 2 x 5 x 1.5 shined on the shorter pattern, naturally. At just 37' and a 4.77:1 ratio, Kegel's Broadway V2 is short with not much hold. The 5" PSA-to-PAP distance ensures sufficient entry angle and the 1.5" pin buffer provides ample roll through the pins, but because it's still a very stable overall core position, this layout may struggle on lengthier patterns. But if urethane is not your "thing", then consider a shorter pin-to-PAP layout to help control those more compact patterns when the ball tries to dart sideways off the breakpoint.

At just over 4° of entry angle, the short pin was able to control the pocket much better than the other two test balls despite being thrown at the same set down and launch angle. The longer pins simply created too much flare and volatility which made it problematic in the effort to keep them on the right side of the headpin on this short, flatter pattern. Instability in core orientation is what makes a ball hook in the first place, but knowing when and where to use such flare potential remains the bowler's responsibility to determine. 

A 4 x 5 x 1.5 Parallax is a versatile layout that provides a player whose speed and rev rate match an all-around functional ball able to be used on a variety of conditions. On the medium 39' Tungsten pattern, this layout shines. With a subtle change in hand position or speed I can navigate to just about anywhere on the lane with this layout and still get the ball to go through the pins the way I need it to. At 4" from the PAP, this pin distance puts the core in a position that's suitable for most house and challenge conditions. It truly is the best of both worlds connecting early roll in company with backend entry angle. The location of the pin falls between a high-RG and low-RG axis orientation which is considerably unstable. Since the core is wobbling vigorously in this position when rolled, this type of setup yields a dependable motion in the midlane which can be useful in many different circumstances. One can avoid getting caught up in a sudden, unforeseen transition because of this layout's ability to read the midlane and blend out the end of the pattern.

Consistent with the shorter pattern, the 4 x 5 x 1.5 layout shaped an entry angle that fell evenly between the long and short pin test balls. On a middle-lengthed pattern such as Tungsten, I could maneuver left or right and still be in the pocket with a subtle hand position or speed change. The 2" pin and 6" pin were either too soft or to sharp respectively on entry and required a complete zone change in order to get back to the 1-3.

An Parallax drilled with a 6 x 5 x 1.5 creates some serious entry angle. On any pattern, any line, it produced the greatest amount of corner to the pocket. In layouts such as this, there is a very specific time and place they should be used. When the pin is 6" from the PAP, the core is stood up on end internally and in a stable, high RG state. This results in the ball focusing its efforts in the later part of the lane since it is tumbling more. When a ball like this is in a higher RG posture, it will be more resistant to changing direction as it rolls down the lane. Longer pin-to-PAP values raise the RG and encourage a slower transition with a beeline shape through the first 2/3 of lane. Because of this, you'll notice more change of direction down lane. For this test I went with the 41' Beaten Path to show just how vast the differences are in these three layouts. The ideal time I would use a 6" pin layout is when the oil is depleted rather than freshly dressed. This is because the ball isn't slowing down as quickly. With every ball, every throw, energy is lost the moment it leaves the bowler's hand. Other factors that contribute to how quickly a ball slows down include surface roughness of the coverstock and lane materials, but this test is solely looking at core properties. When there's a lot of friction on the lanes forcing the ball to slow down too quickly, a longer pin-to-PAP layout can help combat those conditions because the core is allowing the roll phase to happen closer to the pins.

When the pattern is shorter with more friction for balls to react on, everything tends to hook at same spot. How much it hooks is dependent on things like core strength, layout, surface, etc. On this longer test pattern, the differences in the three balls became even more evident with breakpoint distances and entry angles in line with exactly what you would expect from such layouts. The 6" pin had the latest breakpoint and the most angle, with the 4" and 2" falling directly in line behind the former. 

Here's the drilled and un-drilled RG analysis for each of the balls is showcased below. Based on the above ball motion breakdowns on the test patterns, it's understandable why the 6" pin is the most dynamic of the lot. It has the highest combined differential (total and intermediate). The 2" test ball's total differential was comparable to the other two balls, but its extremely stable core position keeps the aggression in check. The 4" test ball's drilled RG turned out exactly as expected: precisely between the 2" and 6". If I was only allowed to choose one ball for a tournament, it would be the 4 x 5 x 1.5 by virtue of it being the most versatile layout of the three. Always remember, it's your job as the bowler to determine when and where to use such layouts. There's a time and place for every ball, every layout.

As mentioned many times before, whenever a hole is introduced to a bowling ball the RG value of the ball rises in that precise spot. Acknowledging that fact, the results from the RG swing test on the three balls aren't that surprising. The pin up Parallax maintained the lowest drilled RG and highest differential thus, making it the most aggressive of the three. It's also objectively true in ball dynamics that an asymmetrical ball becomes even more asymmetrical if the thumb placement is closer to the PSA. And since balance holes are now a thing of the past, being it's important to be mindful and receptive of where the holes may end up in relation to your gripping holes.

 

Knowledge isn't power until it is applied. Now go apply it!

 

Highlights from the test:

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