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Bowling Ball Terminology


If you are trying to learn more about bowling ball terminology, then kindly refer to the "bowling terms" feature on our website for a complete list of bowling terminology relevant to bowling balls and to many other bowling related topics. Simply click on "Bowling Terms" listed under the "Help" column on our home page and then you may click alphabetically to gain access to literally more than a hundred useful bowling terms.

There are a few important keys pertaining to bowling ball terminology every skilled bowler should take time to become familiar with and gaining a working level of knowledge. In considering a few terms relating to bowling balls, RG, Differential of RG, Track Flare Potential, Hook Potential and Length Potential are likely the most useful terms to almost any bowler because they relate to a bowling ball in motion rather than at static rest.

Radius of Gyration (RG) in layman's terms refers to how quickly a bowling ball gets into its strongest rolling pattern as it travels down the lane. A low RG ball, as example, will roll strongest on the front end of the lane and usually is best suited for heavy oil conditions and with an aggressive coverstock. A Medium RG ball rolls strongest in the mid-lane conserving energy on the front end of the lane and is suited best on medium heavy oil conditions or when you need your ball to pick up a strong roll entering the break point area on the lane. A High RG ball is one which develops a strong roll on the back end of the lane, conserving energy as it travels, and usually matches best on a dry lane. A High RG ball, one with a stiff or pearl coverstock, works well with dry front-end conditions where you must prevent the ball from rolling too quickly and hooking in a non-predictable manner.

The Differential of RG is the reference to the bowling ball's reaction at the break point on the lane to the pocket on the back end of the lane. Low Differential balls, will produce a very controllable and modest hook on the back end of the lane, Medium Differential balls will hook more pronounced hook than a Low Differential ball, and the High Differential balls will hook most sharply from the break point to the pocket.

Since the oil pattern (cross lane and down lane ratios of oil applications) on any given lane determines the break point on the lane, a good idea for any bowler is to try and match the break point on the lane with the break point of the bowling ball created by RG and Differential ratings. The objective is to match the ball to the lane condition and that process involves matching the coverstock preparation as well as bowling ball RG and Differential ratings.

Length Potential is the general description of a bowling ball which involves the RG factor and the coverstock factor which together govern the skid length a bowling ball possesses as it travels down lane. Hook Potential is the term used to describe the bowling ball's ability to hook on the back end of the lane and involves the differential rating and the coverstock factor of a given bowling ball. Length Potential and Hook Potential ratings are commonly used by manufacturer's to describe the ball motion capabilities a given bowling ball is designed to achieve. Of course, the drilling layouts also influence the ball motion and that is something which needs to be addressed with the pro shop before planning a layout strategy.

There are, of course, many other bowling ball terms which might be useful if you have an affinity to learn what pro shop operators must know regarding the process of mapping drilling patterns and in drilling bowling balls. If you have a good relationship with a pro shop, then placing more emphasis on the everyday terms described above is probably best to know. Let your pro shop operator study the science of bowling balls while you study the science of identifying the ball motion which best serves your needs matching to lane conditions you most frequently encounter.

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By the way, there are numerous articles and videos addressing bowling balls, terminology and descriptions of bowling balls all through our site. In fact, you can watch videos of the latest bowling balls in today's market rolling down our private test facility lanes on given lane conditions with given layout patterns to help visualize a bowling ball in motion. We hope these tips help!

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