The Classroom With Luke Rosdahl – Bowling Ball Formula vs Bowling Ball Surface

Surface prep is extremely important for bowling ball reaction but so is having the right coverstock formilas

Bowling Ball Formulas VS Bowling Ball Surface Prep

Hey everybody, now that we’ve gotten a good feel for coverstock formulas, we’re going to step sideways and look at the differences between changing formulas and changing surfaces.  Once again, a few shameless plugs to get started, follow the link in the description or at the end of the video for any of your bowling needs at BowlersMart, supporting them supports me, and don’t forget my code “Rosdahl10” the next time you go to order anything at Coolwick to get 10% off, they’re the ones that keep stuff like this coming.  

So in the last two videos I talked about different formulas creating different reactions.  However, as you noticed, I often was going back and forth between surfaces.  Some were sanded, some were shiny, some had been sanded but were now lane shined, etcetera. Some of that served certain points, such as the shiny hybrid Parallax being smoother than the sanded solid Rubicon despite conventional “wisdom” saying that a shiny hybrid would always be longer and sharper than a sanded solid.  However, balls having different surfaces when talking about things like length and friction response makes for an inaccurate comparison because that’s what surface is used to control or adjust, so in this video we’re going to bounce all over the place, starting with what I’ve been showing first, a bunch of shiny stuff.  Now if you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t have any idea which ones are pearl, hybrid, or solid, because all the ones I’m showing are factory polished, yet the lengths and friction responses are all over the place.  While they have different cores, which I’ll show the effects of in an upcoming video, the biggest difference here is the cover formulas.  Cores and layouts can make quite a difference in ball reaction, but if you put a super strong asymmetric core in a plastic ball, you’re not likely to see much of a difference between it and a regular plastic ball because the core, or engine of the ball basically has no tires to work with.  Once you have the right tires to work with, the engine will then make a lot more difference, and we’ll expand on that when we start talking about cores, BUT it’s all relevant and relative.  

Do Not Over Complicate Surface Prep on a Bowling Ball

Surface is a very simple concept and I think people make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Here’s some clips from a surface tutorial I did a couple years ago with the Wild Streak on the 2019 Open championships doubles and singles pattern.  When you add surface, that’s adding texture to the ball, with added texture, that gives it teeth to help dig through the oil and get contact with the lane.  As you watch through this, that’s exactly what you’ll see.  At the beginning with the lane shine, it doesn’t have a whole lot to work with, the smooth surface hydroplanes on the oil, but then results in a lot of surface area to contact the lane and move strongly on the dry boards.  This however can make ball reaction really over/under because the ball is relying on friction or dry boards for traction, so where there’s oil, it’s not going to move, but where it’s dry, it’s going to move a bunch.  On tougher conditions especially, this can create problems with a ball that’s overly sensitive, especially as the lanes transition, and this is why surface is so useful.  Surface gives the ball more traction in the oil and less sensitivity to the dry.  What you’re doing with surface is adding microscopic peaks and valleys to the cover which makes it like putting snow tires on a car, so you’re creating tread and channels for the ball to dig into the oil, but reducing the surface area in contact with the lane at the same time, so traction in oil and a smoother read on friction.  There is however a limit or a boundary where you get too much traction too early and it makes ball reaction suffer.  

Using Surface & Coverstock Formula Together on a Bowling Ball

Surface and cover formula can be used together to further adjust your reaction.  Surface and a strong cover formula is going to dig through the heaviest oil out there, but something with a weaker formula at the same surface isn’t going to dig as hard or move as much.  The discussion about matching surfaces and covers and layouts and lane surfaces and lane conditions could take hours and again, it’s largely experience based because with everyone’s bowling styles being different, the combination for success is going to be different.  Think about certain centers you have success in while others don’t, and vice versa, or certain patterns you don’t do well on that others whack, or popular balls that seem to work for everyone but you.  You may not be able to throw strong stuff or weak stuff, or use much shiny stuff or sanded stuff, and just be at a disadvantage when a certain look is required, but there are a lot of other things you can do to get close.  

Knowing How to Balance Bowling Ball Surface & Coverstocks Formulations

I can’t use surface much, it really messes with my angles if the ball starts up too early, so I tend to use a lot of stronger balls with stronger cover formulas with the factory shine or lane shine.  If I was in a situation where I needed surface however, putting surface on weaker balls or weaker cover formulas will create the same type of balance.  Surface is more mathematical, the smoother the surface is, the less it’s going to hook in the oil and the sharper it’s going to be, the rougher the surface is, the earlier it’s going to hook and the more traction it’s going to have, and depending on how much rougher you make the surface, an initially shiny pearl ball like the Parallax effect can be earlier and smoother than a sanded solid ball like the Rubicon.  Surface is a whole lot easier to understand and to see or feel the differences in right away, however, despite different surfaces producing or forcing quite different reactions out of the same ball, you can’t then just say you’re going to universally use surface to control your reactions just because it’s easier and makes more sense.  Once again, going back what I showed in the beginning, all the balls I showed had the same surface, but all reacted differently.  

There are going to be situations when you need both length and blend out of a ball, so you’d go with a smoother or more controllable shiny ball like an IQ Emerald, and on the other side, you might need both traction and some punch out of a ball, so you’d go with a stronger yet quicker sanded ball like a Rubicon.  Depending on the lane surface, you might have to use a weaker coverstock that’s not going to be as aggressive and would possibly burn up on super high friction lanes for example.  You can’t just say well ok, the ball is hooking a lot and is hooking early, so I’ll just polish it or use something shiny, it HAS to be a weaker cover formula.  I’ll reiterate again like I’ve said in a lot of videos, bowling isn’t mathematical, there’s an infinite amount of variables, the vast majority of which you have to figure out in real time.  You need knowledge and experience, not equations, or rather you can’t plug in a bunch of information and calculate the required reaction, you have to do it backwards, you have to first figure out what reaction you need, and that will tell you what you need to use, and that’s the real trick.  There are some centers in the Kansas City area that I’d take completely different equipment to than another center, even if the pattern was exactly the same.  The pros aren’t pros because they have all the equipment and all the hook ups, they’re the pros because they first know how to figure out what the lanes want, and then they know how to use the equipment they have.  This requires a knowledge of how to connect and balance all the things that create ball reaction, but you first have to start by understanding ball reaction before knowing what you need and how to make that happen.  

In the next video we’ll also see that even with the same cover formula, same cover type, and same surface, that different cores will create different looks there as well, and again it’s all part of understanding and then creating the ball reaction you need.  Thanks for watching and may the strikes be with you. 

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