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Bowling Ball Traction, Originally Posted: 9/4/2014; Updated: 9/16/2022

Bowling ball traction determines the skid length distance your ball travels before entering the hook phase of ball motion. The skid phase of ball motion is the initial phase and directly corresponds to the skid distance your ball travels on the front end of the lane.

With less friction, the faster your ball moves. The more friction a ball has, the slower it travels down the lane. Friction is a result of the ball surface texture and the amount of traction the ball surface provides in the heaviest concentration of lane oil on the front end of the lane. The more texture the surface has, the more traction the ball will have to react on the lane surface.

Friction and traction are affected by several factors including the ball's shape, by its weight, and the its surface texture. All of these factors affect friction when your ball is in contact with the lane. A ball will lose velocity and slow down as it travels down any given lane. Friction and traction are the main causes of this loss of velocity.

The magnitude of the friction and traction between the bowling ball and bowling lane depends on what the ball surfaces are made of, the texture of the ball surface, the amount of oil on the lane, and the mass of the ball.
As example, a heavy ball will retain its speed at a greater rate than will a lighter weight ball but the amount of traction the ball generates depends of the surface texture and corresponding friction factor.
Some lanes will have little oil conditioner while others will have heavier concentrations of oil placed on the lane surface in predetermined volumes and ratios.
The density and location of the oil on the lane will affect of the ball skid distance and hook potential as it travels along the lane.

The more oil that is laid down, the less traction there is between the ball and the lane surface. The less friction, the straighter a ball will travel for a greater distance than with more friction. How much traction a bowling ball has as it moves down a lane is largely determined by how oily the lane is and how much oil the ball retains in the coverstock.
A bowling ball's surface can collect this oil over time from contact with the lane surface due to the fact that the surface of the ball is slightly porous.

As the surface of a ball is altered either by time and use or by routine surface maintenance and texturing procedures, the ball may will gain or lose friction when in contact with the lane. Modern bowling balls are extremely versatile due to planning by the manufacturers and by the material composition used in the manufacturing process. The coverstock of these bowling balls is the key in determining the degree of traction your ball will present in conjunction with the oil conditions of the lanes.

With some help from your pro shop professional and a basic understanding of bowling ball surface maintenance, you can control the traction and skid length potential of your bowling equipment.
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