Creating the Simple and Effective Bowling Ball Arsenal Part 1 By John Gaines

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How To Make A Great Bowling Ball Arsenal Simplified

Are you confused by all of the ways to create different bowling ball motions? Do you have bag after bag full of bowling balls, and not really know how they compare to each other? Ever been confused with which ball to go in a tournament setting (haven’t we all at some point)?

In an upcoming series of blogs, I’ll give you a solid strategy to create a simple but effective arsenal of bowling balls that will make sense to your mind and your eye, giving you the confidence to execute the shot you need when you need it.

There Are Many Different Ways To Create Different Ball Motions In Your Bag.

There’s really three different areas you’re in control of when heading to the lanes.

  1. Bowling Ball Model Choices

  2. Ball Layouts

  3. Ball Surface

If you asked me which one of these is most important, I would immediately respond with ball surfaces. Interestingly, that’s usually the one of those three options that bowlers ignore the most.

So How Do I Go About Creating My Own Arsenal

I try to eliminate variables that cause confusion and make the bowler comfortable. The very first thing I want to get is the bowler’s favorite ball layout. Every bowler out there has a “signature” ball motion to their game. It’s the result of your combination of ball speed, revolutions, axis rotation, and axis tilt. They’re what sum up to give you your everyday ball shape on the lane. For some bowlers, such as Jason Belmonte, the bowler forces are such that he’s going to see large hook with sharp backend movement nearly every day. Chris Barnes, who is lower ball speed, revolutions, and rotation, will typically see smoother shapes that change direction slower.

I look to understand that natural ball motion of the bowler first so I can then find their “favorite layout.” You know the one. It’s that layout that you seem to be able to drill in nearly any ball and get good ball motion from. It’s the one that seems to bail you out when you’ve been searching for ball motion with different layouts and exotic drillings. Every bowler has one of these, whether you’ve found it or not. I’ll give you my personal example:

Ball Speed – 17 mph
Revolutions – 375 rpm
Axis Rotation – 40 degrees
Axis Tilt – 10 degrees

Those forces add up for me to be slightly speed dominant at times compared to my revolution rate, with a lot of forward roll and a low amount of tilt. Given some other physical attributes of my approach, I tend to prefer balls that want to get started a little sooner than most. In the past, I’ve found that I tend to prefer lower pin position balls versus higher pin position balls. I’ve also found that I prefer slightly stronger drilled pin positions than most use relative to their positive axis point. These are all things you’ll naturally learn over time when you drill some balls and begin to pick up similarities and differences. The key here is to find what seems to be the “can’t miss” layout for you. Mine looks like this:


My positive axis point is 5 ½” over by ½” up. That makes this layout 45 degrees x 4 1/2″ x 70 degrees, which places the pin just below and slightly right of my ring finger. You can see the center of gravity in this picture on the lower-right portion of the ball. I typically drill the fingers deep enough so that I can use a weight hole on my vertical axis line, 1” below the midline.

For me, I get average to strong mid-lane traction out of this layout, and the backend motion is typically smooth but continuous hooking. I rarely see the “check-mark” shape in my ball path when I use this layout.

It’s important to find that reliable layout, as we’ll be using it several times as we continue this blog series. To me, one of the easiest ways to confuse yourself on the lanes is to have 4-6 different ball layouts sitting in your bag. Bowling balls and surfaces create huge differences in ball motion by themselves. There’s no reason to complicate the issue by placing different layouts in all of your stuff as well. The bowling ball layout, while important to ball motion, is not my main focus. My goal is to find one that I like, and use ball and surface choices to build my bag.

So find that layout that seems to reliably work for you. It won’t be hard. Think about the last few balls you’ve owned. Think about the ones you’ve liked. There’s most likely some consistency there when it comes to ball layout. Once you have that, we’ll be ready to discuss our next step, finding your target core specs.

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2 thoughts on “Creating the Simple and Effective Bowling Ball Arsenal Part 1 By John Gaines

  1. Pingback: Creating the Simple and Effective Ball Arsenal #2 - Industry Insider by Jeff Ussery - Bowling Blog

  2. Pingback: Creating the Simple and Effective Ball Arsenal #3 - Industry Insider by Jeff Ussery - Bowling Blog

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