One of the most important things bowlers need to know is how to use their bowling balls.
Today, using the right ball is so important.
You can’t always expect to get good ball reaction from one ball. Many times, you will have to change balls to get the right reaction after you have made your normal adjustments and your ball reaction hasn’t improved.
Understanding the basics of the physical makeup of the ball is very important. This includes the core, the material and the coverstock of the ball is made out of, the surface texture and what the drilling layout will do to the performance of the ball.
Once armed with the basic understanding of the ball and how the different balls in your arsenal compare to each other, you are ready to make more knowledgeable ball changes.
What / Who is the problem?
There is no hard-and-fast rule about when to make a ball change. We have to know if the problem is us, the lane, the ball, our lineups or a combination of things. It sometimes is difficult to know what the problem is, but regardless of what the problem is, we don’t want to make the same miss twice in a row.
When thinking about changing balls, you have to decide what you are looking for the ball to do. You have to look at three things.
First, how the ball is reacting front to back on the lane. Second, the shape of the hook you are getting. And, third, how is the ball going through the pins and are you carrying the corners?
What does my ball look like?
Looking at the front-to-back reaction of the ball, is it hooking too soon or too late? Is the shape of the break you are getting too smooth or too angular? Does the length the ball slides and the shape of the hook give you good control over the pocket on small misses?
Where is my ball hitting the pins?
If you are leaving a lot of corner pins on good hits, it’s an indication the ball is not entering the pocket the right way to carry. Keep your eye on the ball entering the pocket and where it exits the pin deck. For a right-hander, if the ball exits the pin deck through the 9 pin on a solid pocket shot, your carry normally will not be very good (this would be the 8 pin for a left-hander). This would mean your ball either is hooking too early and losing energy or sliding too long causing the ball to deflect too much when it hits the pocket.
That’s where a ball change can help improve your angle through the pins. You want to see the ball exit more off the center of the pin deck on solid hits.
All three work together to give you the control of the lane with some area and an angle to carry.
A basic rule of thumb is on a freshly oiled lane is that you want a smooth-rolling ball because there is plenty of oil in the heads and midlane, and the back ends are dry. The fresh pattern gives you automatic skid and automatic back end reaction.
As play continues, the oil gets erased and carried down, especially by the spare balls. Often, we see the ball hooking early and think the heads are drying up. The most oil on the lane is on the heads and doesn’t break down as much as we think. It’s more the midlane area that starts to hook earlier. When this area starts to hook, we naturally want to move in. If, when you move in, the ball slides too long or if you move back and the ball hooks too early, it’s time to change balls.
Every condition will develop to the point where we have some side-to-side area. The more blend the oil pattern has, the more area you potentially have from the start. As play wears away the oil, it creates a wet/dry condition. Once you start getting an overreaction, if you miss outside your target line and the ball hooks too much, or if you miss inside and the ball doesn’t hook enough, it’s time for a ball change. It can get very frustrating when your misses are opposite of the direction of your miss.
One thing to remember is when you are lined up correctly on the pattern, the ball is a tool to help you get the right angle through the pins from the area you are playing. You don’t want to change the ball and play a different part of the lane, you want to change the ball to maximize your area and carry when lined up correctly.
Changing bowling balls is an educated guess. The more you know about your equipment, the better educated guesses you can make.
First, always get lined up correct, then use the right ball to maximize your area on the pattern and get the correct entry angle into the pocket. Remember, you are bowling individual frames. The oil is changing a little with every ball rolled, and it’s your job to figure out what to do based on the ball reaction.