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Top Tips - September 2012 - When Should You "Ball Down"?

League bowlers seem to want hook. That’s because it’s almost counter-intuitive to think that a ball that hooks less would be more effective. But sometimes, in later games, going right a couple of boards with a ball that hooks less works wonders. How and when do you “ball down”?

Susie Minshew Answers...

AH, HOOK. That’s where the magic is, isn’t it? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. There is no doubt that bending the ball is great fun. If the lane and pins don’t want that, though, you are in for a long night.

We hear a lot about the entry angle of the ball into the pocket. We should. It’s important. I’m not sure, however, that it is more important than the exit angle. Where the ball leaves the deck is information you must have in order to understand what the ball has been doing before falling into the pit.

We know the ball has three phases of motion occurring in the three parts of the lane: skid in the heads, hook in the mids, and roll at the backend. From a physics standpoint, it is well known in bowling that a hooking ball can never hit as hard as a rolling ball. A ball that is still hooking as it enters the pocket leaves a lot of back row opportunities.

In recent PBA telecasts, both Chris Barnes and Randy Pedersen have mentioned the importance of how the ball goes through the pins. When a ball looks like it needs a blinker at the breakpoint and jumps high, you must smooth out that breakpoint, changing the way the ball enters the pocket and goes through the pins, therefore changing your carry. Choosing a coverstock and core combination based on how the ball is going through the pins is the way to go. For me, that’s the definition of that “effective” word in the question. You can hook it or you can score. You get to choose.

Hank Boomershine Answers...

THE AVERAGE BOWLER always seems to be looking for more hook. Balls that hook a bit sooner in the oil don’t always give the perception of hook, so average bowlers often shy away from this type of ball reaction for fear of losing scoring potential. Yet many of the tour’s top players don’t always seek balls that give them the biggest visible hook.

On fresh patterns, we often see higher average players start with earlier rolling balls, or those with stronger layouts. The idea is to get the ball to start into its hook phase sooner to blend the reaction throughout the lane for more scoring potential and more forgiveness for errant shots.

Balls tend to react sharply off higher friction, such as when the lane’s backend is very clean or dry. A larger amount of ack-end reaction becomes magnified by lanes with cleaner backends. This creates a dramatic over-and-under move, sometimes called the 250/150 reaction (the player could shoot either 250 or 150 at any time).

As the games progress, some players might move to the right with a ball that has a higher RG value. The idea is to get the ball through the front of the lane as the oil diminishes and still control the amount of back-end reaction. It’s the same principle as the fresh, where you’re trying to “maximize” your miss and have a ball that allows you a bit of forgiveness. Many players are concerned that this will not allow big scores, yet history has proven that this will allow a higher average scoring pace over the long haul.

Susie Minshew is a USBC Gold certified coach who has given thousands of private lessons and clinics since becoming a professional instructor in 1995. She was the first two-time USOC Bowling Coach of the Year and was adjudged “best coach in the nation” in a poll.

Hank Boomershine, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Storm Products, is a USBC Gold certified coach, an advanced certification instructor with IBPSIA and a member of the Storm coaching staff. Listed for years among BJI’s 100 Top Coaches.

Posted with permission from Luby Publishing