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Bowling Terminology

If you are trying to learn more about bowling terminology, then kindly refer to the "bowling terms" feature on our website for a complete list of bowling terminology relevant to many bowling related topics. Simply click on "Bowling Terms" listed under the "Help" column on our home page and then you may click alphabetically to gain access to literally more than a hundred useful bowling terms.

There are a few important terms contained in the wide scope of bowling terminology every advanced bowler should take time to become familiar with thereby gaining a working level of knowledge. In considering a few terms relating to bowling balls, RG, Differential of RG, Track Flare Potential, Hook Potential, and Length Potential are useful terms for any bowler because they relate to a bowling ball in motion rather than at static rest.

Radius of Gyration (RG) in layman's terms refers to how quickly a bowling ball gets into its strongest rolling pattern as it travels down the lane. A low RG ball, as example, will roll strongest on the front end of the lane and usually is best suited for heavy oil conditions and with an aggressive coverstock. A Medium RG ball rolls strongest in the mid-lane conserving energy on the front end of the lane and is suited best on medium heavy oil conditions or when you need your ball to pick up a strong roll entering the break point area on the lane. A High RG ball is one which develops a strong roll on the back end of the lane, conserving energy as it travels, and usually matches best on a dry lane. A High RG ball, one with a stiff or pearl coverstock, works well with dry front-end conditions where you must prevent the ball from rolling too quickly and hooking too early and in a non-predictable manner.

Length Potential is the general description of a bowling ball involving the RG and coverstock factors which together govern the skid length a bowling ball possesses as it travels down lane. Hook Potential is the term used to describe the bowling ball's ability to hook on the back end of the lane and involves the differential rating and the coverstock factor of a given bowling ball. Length Potential and Hook Potential ratings are commonly used by manufacturer's to describe the ball motion capabilities a given bowling ball is designed to achieve. Of course, the drilling layouts also influence the ball motion and that is something which needs to be addressed with the pro shop before planning a layout strategy.

There are, of course, other bowling ball terms which might be useful such as ones pertaining to the bowling lane. The term "Break Point" (BP) refers to the point on the lane where the ball routinely changes direction and begins to hook toward the pocket. The BP is usually located about 5-7 feet past the final distance the lane machine applies oil on the lane surface or buffs oil into the surface. Bowling center lane conditions generally end the oiling anywhere from 36 feet distance to 42 feet distance. The BP, therefore, is located between 42 feet and 48 feet distance from the foul line. In the example of the shorter oiling distance, the break point will be located about 42 feet down the lane and closer to the edge of the lane, about the five or six board, as opposed to the longer distance oil pattern where the BP is about 48 feet distance and perhaps three boards nearer the lane center around the eight or nine board. It simply makes sense that the longer distance a bowling ball skids while traveling in oil, the less time and distance it has to hook on the dry back ends, thus the BP is nearer the center of the lane on a longer pattern compared to a shorter distance oil pattern.

Remember, bowling balls create their own BP by means of the ball construction core designs and coverstock compositions. It is the best strategy for you to try and match a bowling ball BP to the BP on the lane so your overall bowling ball reaction is dependable and predictable.

Lane maintenance personnel refer to the lane in three sections, most commonly. The "front end" refers to the portion of the lane also known as the "heads" located from the foul line forward to just beyond the targeting arrows to a distance of about 20 feet and where the heaviest concentration of oil is placed. From the 20 foot distance past the foul line to the distance the lane machine completes the oil application is referred to as the "mid-lane" and is the portion of the lane surface where your ball usually rolls most strongly and prepares for a change in direction at the Break Point. Finally, the "back-end" of the lane is the portion where the application of oil ends and continues to the end of the pin-deck. The "back-end" of the lane is where your bowling ball changes direction at the BP on a dry surface and continues at an angle of entry into the pins which is determined by the "hook Potential" of the bowling ball.


By the way, there are numerous articles and videos addressing bowling balls, terminology, and descriptions of bowling balls all through our site. In fact, you can watch videos of the latest bowling balls in today's market rolling down our private test facility lanes on given lane conditions with given layout patterns to help visualize a bowling ball in motion. We hope these tips help?

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