By Lou Marquez on Sep 7, 2019 6:29:01 PM
One of the most important aspects of learning and improving your lane play actually deals with another piece of equipment altogether: the bowling ball.
With all the different types, strengths, surface options and drilling layouts available on bowling balls, knowing how to choose the right ball for your given lane condition is vastly important to competing consistently, especially when you're bowling on multiple lane patterns or in different centers that have varying characteristics from your home house.
How to Start Building an Arsenal
Building an arsenal can be overwhelming, especially for beginning bowlers, as there are so many components to what makes one ball different from another. However, if we break it down to the basics and understand what those differences are and how we can manipulate them, we can make the process more inviting for players of all skill levels.
I enlisted the help of Stephen Padilla, USBC Director of Coaching, to talk about the essentials of building a basic arsenal.
The most important thing for any bowler building an arsenal is understanding where you are as a player-ball speed, rev rate, all that good stuff. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses help you select the equipment to maximize your skillset.
You want your arsenal to include different types of bowling balls. Filling a three-ball roller with the three most aggressive balls on the market isn't smart if you're trying to be versatile.
Start with Reliability and Build Out
Just about every bowler has a favorite ball, and this is the perfect place to start. In order to create a three-ball arsenal, Stephen suggests we build out on either side of that benchmark ball. Take your favorite ball and add something a little stronger and something a little weaker.
For example, if your benchmark ball has a 2,000 surface, you can add a ball with 1,000 surface to get an earlier roll and you can add something with a 4,000 surface or even some polish to get the ball farther down the lane. This idea gives you three distinct shapes in your bag so you can adapt to any lane condition.
We've talked a lot about surface changes already in Hot Off the Press and for good reason: studies show changing the surface of a bowling ball has the biggest impact on its reaction on the lane.
Don't be afraid to change surface. A lot of bowlers get nervous about "ruining" their favorite ball by altering the surface, but as long as you know the surface you like, you can always get back there. Taking your favorite ball with a 2,000 surface and scuffing it to 1,000 for a certain lane condition can not only help your game on that condition, but once you're finished, you (or your pro shop) can return the ball to your desired surface.
The best way to develop confidence with changing surfaces is to actually change the surface. If you know a surface you like, then experiment with others, you'll see right away how your ball reaction changes. Again, you can always get back to where you started, but once you see how these changes work within your game, your confidence in changing the surface on every ball in your bag will go up as your knowledge increases.
Expanding the Arsenal
A three-ball arsenal, with three distinct surfaces, is a good place to start. Once you see how the different balls react on the lanes and you gain an understanding of how and why, you'll find it much easier to add or subtract a piece (or pieces) to your arsenal as you bowl tournaments or leagues in any number of bowling centers.