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How Should My Bowling Ball Be Drilled?, Originally Posted: 1/8/2015; Updated: 7/20/2022

Have you asked how should your bowling ball be drilled? Not an uncommon question by bowlers everywhere.

The answer is difficult to arrive at unless you take many factors into consideration.

In fact, even the manufacturers typically place a drilling spec sheet in the box of high tech bowling balls to give the bowler and the pro shop ideas for drilling layout options.

In case you are not aware of the term drilling layout, it simply means how and where the holes are mapped out for drilling holes into the ball for gripping purposes in relation to the bowling ball locator pin and mass bias marker.

Drilling layouts are an important part of the ball selection process. Each bowler wishes to gain a ball reaction which matches best with the lane conditions and with the bowler’s delivery technique.

As important as the drilling layout is to affecting ball motion, it is not as effective as the combination of choosing the type of ball construction coupled with the type of coverstock.

The core and coverstock must be determined first before a drilling layout option.

Once you have selected the type of high performance ball you wish to purchase (symmetric or asymmetric), you must decide the type of coverstock which gives you the best options to match with the friction factor the lane conditions provide. There are shiny reactive coverstocks, matte finish reactive coverstocks, pearl coverstocks, and hybrid coverstocks to select from.

The final step in the process is to decide which layout option will merge with the ball type and the coverstock type so the end result is the ball reaction you seek based on your game.

Drilling layouts have simple reference terms you might hear in bowling circles such as a weak layout, a strong layout, or a control drilling which meets in the middle of the first two terms.

Avoiding using the technical terms describing layouts and flare patterns, the best way to understand layouts is these common reference terms.

A weak layout gets the ball out of the skid phase of motion sooner than a strong layout but has a very mild backend reaction.

Weak layouts are favorites of high and medium-high rev players because they will not snap unpredictably on the back end of the lane.

Weak layouts can work well for low rev players who hook the ball a small amount when this type of “stroker” player encounters house lane conditions such as wet/dry (block patterns) or very dry lanes where the bowler wishes to contain the back end reaction.

Strong layouts provide a longer skid length in the front end of the lane and a stronger, more angular motion on the back end compared to weak layouts.

When a moderate or low rev player must adjust toward the middle of the lane when the lanes burn up (breakdown occurs due to excessive linage throughout the day), a strong layout provides a good back end reaction so the ball can more easily move back to the pocket without laboring as much on the back end as would a weak layout on the same condition by the same bowler using the same ball and coverstock texture.

A control drilling is one which provides both good front end skid and a controllable and decisive arc motion on the back end. Control layouts should be a staple in every bowlers arsenal because they work well on most house lane conditions.

To answer your question how should my bowling ball be drilled, identify a specific ball motion missing from your present arsenal and use the layout which tweaks your ball motion giving you the best chances at hitting the pocket with regularity.

If you are experiencing too sharp of a back end reaction and have difficulty holding the ball back from hooking too hard in the mid lane, then perhaps discuss which option of a weak layout would temper the back end ball motion and help you hit the pocket.

If your ball is quitting on you in the back end, then perhaps the next ball should be a stronger layout which will give you slightly extended length and a stronger back end reaction.

Typically, the higher the differential rating on a new ball, the more to ball will display a strong back end motion and high track flare pattern. A low differential rating will describe a low flare potential with a mild back end reaction.

If you are into the science of bowling ball technology, you must collaborate with your pro shop professional to help you determine which layout will match best with the given new ball you have chosen and with the lane conditions.

The most difficult question for any pro shop professional to answer relates to drilling layout options.

The pro shop pro must first learn about the bowler’s delivery technique, rev rate, axis tilt, rotation, and ability to control ball speed and loft distance on given lane conditions.

There are no magic computers to input your data and then arrive at a drilling layout option.

Depending on how many bowling balls you use and which type of competition is more relevant, tournaments or leagues, the type of layout for your next bowling ball should be targeted at matching well with the lane conditions you face and with your game.

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