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Understanding Key Terms Used In Bowling Pro Shops, Originally Posted: 7/27/15; Updated: 3/18/21

If you are a beginner bowler or one planning on purchasing your first high performance bowling ball, understanding key terms used in bowling pro shops will help you learn more about the game and equipment.

There are several terms you will regularly hear tossed around your area pro shops relating to bowling balls; here are several such popular terms:

1. Actual Span: Distance from edge of thumb hole nearest to center, to edge of finger holes nearest to center, including all inserts and/or grips.

2. Axis of rotation: Imaginary line, perpendicular to the track, along which a bowling ball rotates during its path down the lane.

3. Axis tilt: Angle between axis of rotation and the horizontal plane - caused by the bowler at the release, represents an angle of the axis rotation above a horizontal line through the middle of the ball.

4. Balance hole: A hole placed in the ball (usually on the bowler’s vertical axis line to bring a ball back into ABC legal specifications.

5. Bridge: Distance between the finger holes.

6. Center of gravity: The point in a body or system around which the whole mass is concentrated any may be assumed to act. The point on the surface of the bowling ball where the static balance is zero in all directions on a do-do scale - usually marked by a logo.

7. Center line: Vertical line between the fingers and through the middle of the thumb.

8. Flare: Refers to the bowling ball changing its axis of rotation while seeking its preferred spin axis during its path down the lane. The result is several distinct oil rings being visible around the ball.

9. Mass Bias: Weight in a particular area of the ball.

10. Midplane/Vertical Axis Line: A line perpendicular to the midline that passes through the bowler’s positive axis point and the negative axis point when extended completely around the ball. Separates top of ball from bottom of ball on the bowler’s axis of rotation.

11. Pin: A small round discoloration on a bowling ball that marks the top of the weight block.

12. Positive axis point (PAP): Point on the surface of the ball that is the end of the bowlers axis of rotation, on the positive side of the ball.

13. Preferred spin axis: The axis about which the bowling ball wants to rotate.

14. Radius of gyration (Rg): An account of the distribution of the mass in an object.

15. Track: Area of bowling ball that makes contact with the surface during its path down the lane. Because of revolving motion, this area is usually in the form of a ring or rings around the ball.

16. Weight block: Traditionally, the dense part(s) of material found in the interior of a bowling ball.

The pro shop bowling ball terms are frequently discussed in and around pro shop circles and they relate to important factors about bowling balls.

By learning more about bowling balls, learning the key factors about bowling balls, you will use your new equipment wisely and begin to understand about bowling ball motion and about the importance of ball maintenance.
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