Understanding Bowling Ball Motion

Understanding bowling ball motion will help you make a good decision in purchasing your next bowling ball.  This is simply done by examining the overall path a bowling ball takes while traveling down the lane derived from research and development by manufacturers and amplified by field studies performed by the United State Bowling Congress (USBC).

USBC Gold Coach Lou Marquez and USBC Director of Coaching Stephen Padilla increase our understanding of bowling ball motion and provide pointers on how to make your game stronger, as in this clip below.

Video courtesy of USBC Bowling Academy

As the ball travels down the lane, it passes through three phases and two transitions. This motion happens as follows:

1. the skid phase (the first transition from skid to hook)

2. the hook phase (the second transition from hook to roll)

3. the roll phase

During the skid phase, the force from the ball speed exceeds the force from the rev rate.  As the ball travels down the lane, the friction between the ball and the lane reduces the ballís speed and increases the ballís rev rate.  When the forces from the ball speed and the rev rate become equal, the ball transitions (first transition) into the hook phase.

In the hook phase, the force from the ballís rev rate exceeds the force from the ballís speed.  During the skid and hook phases, the ballís axis rotation always exceeds the ballís axis tilt.  The ball will lose itsí axis rotation faster than it loses itsí axis tilt during the skid and hook phases.

When the ballís axis rotation and axis tilt become equal, the ball will transition (second transition) into the roll phase.  Once the ball enters the roll phase the ball will no longer hook and the ballís axis rotation will always equal the ballís axis tilt.  The axis rotation and axis tilt will decrease slowly as the ball travels down the lane during the roll phase.  The bowling ball will reach itsí maximum rev rate at the second transition.  The ballís rev rate will always be less in the skid and hook phases than it is in the roll phase.

The bowling ball always hits harder after it stops hooking (the roll phase), rather than while itís still hooking (the hook phase).  Once the ball reaches itsí entry angle at the second transition, the entry angle will remain the same until the ball hits the pins.  This is a scientifically accurate description of bowling ball motion.