In the last several episodes, we've talked about what surface adjustments are, how to apply them and a little about how they work in practice. Today, we're going to show you exactly how they work in practice with the help of USBC Director of Coaching Stephen Padilla. In The Lab, we know him as The Coach.

Press-Blog-Ad-370x355-4Before we get started, I should remind everyone Stephen is an elite-level bowler who has won an Eagle at the USBC Open Championships. I'm going to force him to slow down his normal adjustment process so we can see, step by step, how different surfaces change the ball motion on the lane.

4,000-Grit Pad
Stephen starts with a ball sanded with a 4,000-grit pad as he tries to get lined up on a competitive oil pattern. I've asked him not to move his feet or his target and to simply throw a couple shots to the same spot to get a feel for how the ball is reacting.

It's pretty obvious, as he missed the head pin twice, we don't have the right setup for him yet. Looking at the Specto data, Stephen's speed from one shot to the next is extremely consistent, which tells us he's throwing the ball consistently, which helps a lot as we adjust to get lined up.

Since we're trying to explain surface adjustments, I'm still not going to let Stephen move his feet or his eyes, as much as he may want to. Instead, we're going to resurface the ball with a 2,000-grit pad. As we recall, the lower the grit on the pad, the stronger the pad actually is.

2,000-Grit Pad
As Stephen rolls a couple shots with a stronger grit, we expect the ball to pick up a little earlier on the lane, and that's exactly what we see. He's still coming in late and missing the head pin, and I'm still not letting him move (sorry, Stephen). We want to see how surface alone can affect ball motion.

With this pad, Stephen is getting closer and he can see his ball starting to pick up a little better. Still, we're not there yet, so we'll hit the ball again with a stronger pad-1,000 grit.

1,000-Grit Pad
After hitting the ball with a 1,000-grit pad, Stephen is starting to see results as his ball begins to pick up closer to an area he'd like to see on the lane. I keep joking about not letting him move his eyes or his feet, but at this point we're getting pretty close to that being the only thing left to do.

Different bowlers get lined up in different ways, but for this exercise, we really want to get Stephen's surface exactly where we want it before he tinkers with where he's rolling it on the lane. While the 1,000-grit pad is getting us close, we want to hit it one more time to see if we can get his ball into the roll phase at the right spot on the lane.

500-Grit Pad
With the 500-grit pad and Stephen still standing in the same place and looking at the same spot, we finally start to see the ball motion we want to see.

For this lane condition, the magical surface appears to be applied by the 500-grit pad. Stephen is happy with the skid/hook/roll phases of his shots and feels comfortable with the surface on the ball.

Now, all that's left to do in order to get lined up is to finally allow him to adjust his feet and his eyes. As we can plainly see, he's able to find the pocket and strike the moment he does that.

Applying Surface Adjustments to Your Game
You can play around with surfaces during practice, prior to league or anywhere you're working on your game. The best way to determine which surfaces work best for you and your given lane conditions is to experiment. We had Stephen step through four different pads before he found the one that worked for his game on this competitive pattern. Sometimes, you'll find what you're looking for a lot quicker and sometimes it will take longer. Sometimes, because it's bowling, you'll never quite find it, but that's why you need to keep experimenting and practicing.

If you can master surface adjustments, your game will be many steps ahead of those who never change surfaces.


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