When it comes to purchasing a new ball, it is very important to drill it in a way that is going to benefit your bowling style, as well as better your scores on the conditions you bowl on. Bowling balls have either symmetric or asymmetric cores, each of which requires different layouts to maximize their reaction potential.
First we will examine the reactions of a bowling ball with a symmetric core. When first glancing at the ball, you will notice a small, colored circle, also known as the pin. The pin is generally used as a guide for where the finger holes will be drilled in the ball. In terms of reaction, placing the pin above the fingers will encourage length and more backend, or down lane hook, and placing it below the fingers will result in an earlier, more smooth reaction. Layouts designed for length are beneficial on lanes that have dry-medium oil, since you want the ball to retain its energy before it reacts, and earlier rolling layouts excel on the heavy stuff, since an earlier rolling ball will cut through the oil and still have enough pop to strike. Another marker to take into account is the center of gravity, usually marked with a symbol (depending on the company, they vary), a few inches below the location of the pin. The CG also plays a role in determining how your ball will react down the lane. For a right hander, moving the CG to the right of your grip center will also promote length and more overall hook, whereas moving it to the left will allow it to roll a bit earlier, and not make as drastic of a move down lane. The same can be said for a lefty, just the other way around. Also, moving the CG closer to where the finger holes were placed will add more backend, whereas moving it closer to the thumb will result in a more even reaction overall.
All of this information is the same for balls that have asymmetric cores, but there is one more factor that needs to be accounted for; the mass bias. The mass bias, usually marked somewhere below the CG, can also be used to dictate length in a ball’s reaction. For a righty, placing the mass bias to the left of the thumb will result in a milder reaction, whereas moving it to the right of the thumb will result in a ball with more length and backend.
Now these are just very general guidelines as to how to layout a bowling ball for drilling, but every bowler should take into account how they throw the ball, their track, and their PAP (positive axis point), since they are unique to everybody. Somebody who has a high track, or tracks closer to the finger and thumb holes, will benefit from a different layout than someone with a low track. Rev rate can also be a factor as well. Someone who has a high rev rate may not want to use a layout that places the pin below the fingers, since it will hook incredibly earlier for them. Finally, ball speed can dictate how you are going to want your ball to roll. High ball speeds can be overcome by using earlier rolling layouts, since they will almost cancel each other out, whereas bowlers with slower ball speeds want the ball to go long before it reacts.
I hope I have provided some insight into the tricky game of making your bowling ball work for you. The goal is to find the balance between how you bowl, and what you want the ball to do. Once this is achieved, take the pin, CG, and mass bias and place them in spots that are most likely going to result in your desired reaction. All that is left to do after that is taking your ball to the lanes put it to good use.
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