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Common Bowling Ball Terms

Familiarizing yourself with the common bowling ball terms will help you gain understanding about bowling balls and to identify terms which can be very useful when selecting a new bowling ball. provides a glossary of bowling terms to help you broaden your bowling vocabulary.
Common bowling ball terms are easily found at our site by clicking on the "Bowling Terms" link provided under the the "Site Features" column found near the bottom of our home page. You may then review the alphabetized index of comprehensive terms to help you become familiarized with some of the bowling lingo used by manufacturers, by pro shop professionals, and by experienced bowlers throughout the world.
Here are a few random and very useful bowling ball terms with simple explanations:
Angle of Entry – angle measured parallel to the boards of the lane and at which the bowling ball hits the pocket. USBC has confirmed, that an entry angle of about 6 degrees improved overall strike percentage.
Axis of Rotation – an imaginary line perpendicular to the track along which a bowling ball rotates.
Axis Point – one of two points located on opposite poles marking the end points of the axis of rotation.
Axis Tilt – known as the angle of rotation of a bowling ball imparted by the bowler. Rotational positioning is critical in determining bowling ball hook potential.
Balance Hole – an extra hole drilled in a specific position in the bowling ball used to balance the ball statically and alter the overall reaction of the bowling ball.
Ball Track – the portion of the bowling ball which comes into contact with the lane surface as the ball rolls down the lane.It can be visually identified from the oil rings on the ball surface after making a ball delivery on the lane.
Break Point – the point on the lane created by the ratios of oil application on the lane surface where the bowling ball completes its transition from skid to traction and begins the rolling process. The break point usually exists from 5-7 feet past the final distance of oil. As a rule of thumb, the longer the distance of the oil pattern, the closer to the center of the lane is the break point. The shorter the distance of the oil pattern, the break point is nearer the edge of the lane.
Differential of RG – the difference of the radius of gyration (RG) of a bowling ball’s “X axis” (weight block vertical) compared to RG of the “Y” or “Z” axes (the weight block horizontal). Differential is an indicator of a bowling ball’s flare potential. High Differential of RG, high track flare – low Differential of RG, low track flare.
Flare Potential – the maximum amount a bowling ball can migrate while traveling down the lane. Flare Potential can be used as an indicator as to how sharply a bowling ball in motion will hook from the break point to the pocket.
Length Potential – an evaluation of how far a ball will travel before it begins to hook.
Positive Axis Point (PAP) - the point on the pocket side of the ball at the end of the Axis of Rotation upon delivery of the bowling ball.
Radius of Gyration (RG) – an account of the location of the mass inside a bowling ball. RG tells whether the ball mass is toward the center of the ball (low RG), toward the cover (High RG), or between (medium RG).
There are a great deal more terms used in addressing the construction, drilling layouts, and motion of bowling balls. At times, it can become confusing trying to learn the meaning of every term. If you are a newcomer to the game or someone trying to learn more about bowling balls, start with learning these above mentioned terms.
Three important factors when choosing a new bowling ball and understanding ball terminology are:

1. Selecting the type of coverstock and factory finish of the ball surface.
2. Selecting the length and hook potential ratings best suited to your game.
3. Selecting a drilling layout to fine tune the ball reaction you seek on lane conditions you frequently encounter.
Your pro shop professional can help you with all three decisions before drilling your new bowling ball. If you take a few minutes more while visiting our site and check out the hundreds of articles and videos in the "BowlVersity" section, you will find a great deal more comprehensive information about the science of bowling balls.
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