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Bowling Ball Reaction Keys

By: bowlingball.com, 7/28/16

A few simple bowling ball reaction keys can help you visualize the transitions your ball makes as it travels down the lane to the pocket and help you make decisions in aligning yourself to hit the pocket consistently.

First, there are three phases of ball motion with two transition points as your bowling ball travels to the pocket.

Skid Phase - the initial phase of ball motion is the skid phase where the ball has not encountered enough friction to begin hooking.

Hook Phase - the 2nd phase of ball motion is the hook phase where the ball has encountered enough friction to transition from the delivery angle path during the skid phase to the point where the ball transitions to the Roll Phase.

Roll Phase - the Roll Phase of ball motion is where the ball has stopped hooking and is traveling in a fairly constant direction from the 2nd transition point to the pocket.


The Skid Phase of ball motion is where the greatest volume of oil conditioner is applied to the lane surface. Typically on most house shots, the oil is heavily blended both across the lane and down the lane to where a lighter blend of oil is applied in accordance with the given oil distance programmed into the oiling machine.

The Hook Phase of ball motion is commonly referred to as the the mid-lane where the oil conditioner is applied with a lighter blend of oil both down the lane and across the lane compared to the front end of the lane where the ball travels in the Skid Phase of ball motion.

The Roll Phase of ball motion is the point down the lane where the ball transitions from the lightly blended oil condition to a dry section of the lane, commonly known as the back end of the lane, where no lane oil is applied to the lane surface.


You can easily notice a variation in your ball motion when you change bowling balls used on the given lane surface.

Generally, the surface texture of the given bowling ball, the ball dynamic created by the drilling layout of the given ball, and the lane surface texture are other factors which affect ball motion.

When you switch bowling balls with varying surface texture, you will see a slight change in the ball skid distance and a change in the transition point on the back end of the lane.

Your job when bowling in competition is to be aware of how each bowling ball you bring to your competition reacts in comparison to one another.

Matching the bowling ball to the given oil pattern is the chief challenge any top player encounters when seeking proper alignment to the pocket based on his or her ball reaction.

Knowing your equipment and how the lanes are oiled are the two key factors in making a decision on your initial alignment to the pocket. Adjustments to your initial alignment are based upon when the pattern wears from lineage accumulated on the pair of lanes where you are competing. It is important to know your equipment by knowing how each bowling ball is drilled and what surface texture and oil absorption rate each ball possesses.


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