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Bowling Ball Speed Chart


Using a bowling ball speed chart will help you determine your ball speed at impact with the pins. If you wish to learn more about your speed control and average ball velocity, then use the bowling ball speed chart below to identify information relating to your delivery style.

Following the guidelines provided by the manufacturers and the United States Bowling Congress' (USBC) recent Ball Motion Study regarding optimum ball speed will help you determine if you need to alter your normal ball speed range for the best results.

The information compiled from field studies shows that an effective bowling ball speed is about 16-17 miles per hour (mph) measured at impact with the pins and about 20-21 mph when the ball is released onto the lane, plus or minus one mph tolerance, and about 18 mph overall average speed.

Typically, a bowling ball takes about 2.5 seconds elapsed time, plus or minus 0.15 seconds, to contact the pins at an instantaneous velocity of 16.7 mph, a recommended time by USBC and by ball manufacturers. This is very near 18 mph average velocity.

It should be pointed out, however, that elapsed travel time varies in accordance with three key factors:

1. Lane oil conditions
2. Bowling ball coverstock surface texture
3. The amount a bowling ball hooks as it travels down the lane

Using the help of a friend, deliver a series of shots down the practice lane while your friend clicks a stopwatch at the precise moment you release the ball from your hand and then clicks it again at the precise moment your bowling ball contacts the head pin. Using a stopwatch is one way to determine the elapsed time your ball takes to travel down the lane and impact the pins.

This elapsed time information can be calculated into an instantaneous speed at impact with the pocket so you will know roughly how close your speed matches to the USBC field studies and to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best ball speed to provide you optimum performance and pin carry.

Of course, use of a stopwatch is not a perfect science but it is surprising how with a little practice, one can achieve fairly consistent readouts of elapsed time using a stopwatch device.

Here is a Bowling Ball Speed Chart used to help you convert your elapsed time into ball speed data:

Elapsed Time Ball Speed

3.0 sec. 13.9 mph.

2.9 sec. 14.4 mph.
2.8 sec. 14.9 mph.
2.7 sec. 15.4 mph.
2.6 sec. 16.0 mph.
2.5 sec. 16.7 mph.
2.4 sec. 17.4 mph.
2.3 sec. 18.1 mph.
2.2 sec. 19.0 mph.
2.1 sec. 19.9 mph.
2.0 sec. 20.8 mph.

As we can tell from the chart, the elapsed time it takes your ball to reach the pins will give you a good idea if your speed range is close to the recommended speed by the ball companies or by the USBC field studies. If you are in the middle readings of the chart, you should be in good shape with your average ball speed and should strive to maintain that speed when you bowl competitively.

If your speed is slower or faster than the mid-range readings on the chart, then you may wish to make adjustments to your technique to alter your delivery speed.

Because you do not have a speed measuring device manufacturers use to test bowling balls like the C.A.T.S. (Computer Aided Tracking System) computer, the stopwatch is a good substitute to help you determine your ball speed by referencing the speed chart above.

Merely use a given series of deliveries and then average the results to yield a speed your ball travels at impact with the pins.

You certainly can use the speed readout device on automatic score devices at your local bowling centers but there are associated challenges to the information scorers provide. Often times the scorers are not routinely calibrated for accuracy nor are the scorers measuring the speed at the precise moment your ball impacts the pins.

Because of this, use of the stopwatch system and the Ball Speed Chart can help you get a fairly close reading of your speed and can thereby lead you to determine if you require adjustments to your delivery speed, either faster or slower, to best match with the optimum speed the computer data offers.

Variables such as the volume of oil used in the lane dressing procedure, the amount you hook your bowling ball, and the texture of the surface of your ball are all contributing factors in measuring elapsed time readouts by use of the stopwatch method.

If you have an uncertainties, we highly recommend you consult with a certified coach or local bowling professional to learn more about your present ball speed and how to make any possible adjustments in technique to develop effective ball speed control.

Any coach will tell you that once you find the right ball speed at a given time you are bowling, maintaining consistent speed control is a key factor in producing good results and high scores.

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