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Bowling Ball Surface Friction

The less friction a bowling ball has, the faster it moves. The more friction a ball has, the slower it travels down the lane. Friction is affected by several factors including the ball's shape, by it's weight, and the it's surface texture. All of these factors affect friction when your ball is in contact with the lane.

A ball thrown down the lane will slow down over its course of travel. The main cause of this is friction. The magnitude of the friction between the bowling ball and bowling lane depends on what the ball surfaces are made of, the amount of oil on the lane, and the mass of the ball.

For example, a heavy ball will retain its speed at a greater rate than will a lighter weight ball.

Some lanes will have little conditioner, while others will have heavier concentrations of oil placed on the lane surface in predetermined volumes and ratios.

As the bowling ball travels down the lane, the friction between the ball and the lane surface will slow it down. The composition of the oil and where it is more densely located on the lane will affect the ball skid distance and hook potential as it travels along the lane.

The more oil that is laid down, the less friction there is between the ball and the lane surface.The less friction, the harder it is for the bowler to send the ball in it's arcing path of travel, imparted by the finger rotation, that the bowler applies on the ball at the moment of release.

How much friction a bowling ball has as it moves down a lane is largely determined by how oily the lane is and how much oil the ball retains in the coverstock. A bowling ball's surface can collect this oil over time from contact with the lane surface due to the fact that the surface of the ball is slightly porous.


As the surface of a ball is altered either by time and use or by routine surface maintenance and texturing procedures, the ball may will lose friction when in contact with the lane.

Modern bowling balls are extremely versatile due to planning by the manufacturers and by the material composition used in the manufacturing process. The coverstock of these bowling balls is the key in determining the degree of surface friction a given bowling ball possesses.

With some help from your pro shop professional and a basic understanding of bowling ball surface maintenance, you can control the friction and skid length potential of your bowling equipment.

Scoring well on today’s lane conditions is largely due to getting a good ball reaction and a dependable one. Knowing how to maintain the surfaces of your bowling balls goes a long way in gaining a consistent ball reaction and in playing the lanes properly in competition.

If you must choose a place to apply the greatest emphasis relating to your bowling balls, then it is the coverstock is the answer. The amount of traction your ball possesses on given lane conditions is based upon the surface friction of your equipment. If you do nothing more than learning how to keep your bowling ball surfaces prepared for the conditions you face in competition, you give yourself the best chances for success on the lanes.