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Equipment And Volume Of Oil

Excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals - Second Edition By Michelle Mullen


Whereas the distance of the oil determines the breakpoint on flatter patterns, the volume of oil dictates what type of ball to use. The cover and type of core of a bowling ball create approximately 75 percent of its reaction. Pin placement, or the position of the core in relation to your track, fine-tunes the ball’s reaction. Therefore, having the proper ball, one with the right cover and core, to begin with is far more important than having the right pin position, but in the totally wrong ball for the conditions.

Because this is largely a game of managing friction to get the ball to hit the pins with the right energy to strike, the coveer plays the most significant role in ball reaction.
Whereas you adjust your angle by moving from side to side on the lane, you adjust the distance at which the ball hooks and the shape of the hook with your equipment and your release. In some cases, you can also manipulate your speed, but that takes a lot of practice to be able to do consistently. As I always say, even some professionals do not master speed control. Therefore, you may consider adjusting your speed as a last resort, especially if you have any timing or swing issues that may be further aggravated by any attempt to adjust your speed.

If you are on a heavy volume of oil, use a stronger cover to cut through the oil and get the ball to hook sooner rather than slide too much. If you are one a light volume of oil, use a weaker cover, perhaps a pearlized cover, to get the ball to skid long enough before it hooks.

In a stronger, more aggressive cover, the coverstock is typically solid. This creates more friction on the lane to grab the lane sooner. Balls that slide more and react later on the lane are more pearlized. Pearlized balls skid longer and save reaction for the back end. Furthermore, some pearlized balls are weaker than others in overall hook to match up properly to lane conditions. Neither is necessarily better all the time. The volume of oil and the friction created by the ball on the lane determine if the ball will hook at the proper distance.

There are different surfaces on bowling balls, just as there are different tires for vehicles. Some tires have a lot of tread, and others have less; you need to match the surface to conditions. You would not want to use tractor tires with chains on dry pavement. Nor would you want to use bald tires on slick conditions. So it is with bowling balls and lane conditions.

Again, bowling is a game of managing friction to get the ball to hit the pocket with the proper energy to strike. Therefore, given the conditions, you need to make adjustments to the cover of your ball as necessary. These are called ball surface adjustments.
Surface adjustments are made to further manipulate your ball’s reaction to improve your scoring. Adjusting the surface of your ball is a huge factor in creating the best ball reaction for the conditions. Again, bowling is about properly managing the friction the ball makes with the lane to achieve the best reaction to strike.

When I was bowling on tour, making surface adjustments to bowling balls was always the key to scoring. We traveled with bowling ball spinners and all the abrasives needed to adjust bowling ball surfaces between and before each block of bowling. We could do this ahead of time, including during warm-up practice, but not during play We rarely used bowling balls the way they came out of the box from the factory. Adjusting the surface is standard practice for fine-tuning performance.
During breaks, we would adjust the surfaces of the balls we thought we would be using for the next block of games. During warm-ups to competition, all of the bowling ball company representatives would be behind us, ready to adjust any of our surfaces as we thought necessary, to finish fine-tuning our ball reaction as we saw fit.

If the ball was sliding a little too much, we would adjust the surface with a more abrasive pad to create more friction so the ball would grab sooner. If we wanted it to slide more, we would use a less abrasive pad to smooth out the finish and get the ball to skid more. We just had to remember how we had last prepared our surfaces to be able to advise on what we needed to make the ball roll sooner or later. We had only about 10 minutes to do this during warm-ups; altering the surface this way during competition is against the rules.

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