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The Importance of the Positive Axis Point (PAP) and How To Find It

So many times, a customer will come in to the shop looking to buy a bowling ball and when I ask them what type of ball reaction they are looking for they say “Well, my friend has this same ball. The pin is over the ring finger and he strikes a lot with it.” What this customer doesn't realize is that the layout that their friend is using will create a completely different ball motion for him due to the fact that his positive axis point is different.

When a bowling ball is thrown, the ball revolves around an axis. At the ends of this axis is the positive axis point (PAP) and negative axis point (NAP). The PAP is the one that is the most important. The PAP is determined by how you release the ball and is different for everyone. The reaction of the bowling ball is going to be based on how far the pin and mass bias (MB) is away from the PAP. When you throw a newer reactive bowling ball you will notice the oil on the ball comes back in rings, each one of these rings indicates how many times the ball makes fresh contact with the lane. This is called track flare. How far the pin is from the PAP along with the differential of the core determines how much the ball flares. Maximum flare is achieved in a bowling ball by placing the pin 3 to 4 inches from PAP. How far the Mass Bias is from the PAP determines how fast or slow the ball revs up. Mass Biases closer to the PAP make the ball rev up sooner, farther away makes the ball rev up later.

Now, let's go back to my customer. It turns out that his friend is a medium rev player and has a PAP of 5 ½ inches over. The ball he is throwing the pin is around 5 ¼ from his PAP, which is a lower flaring layout for a symmetrical core ball. My customer is a high rev player and has a PAP of 3 ½ over due to the high amount of axis tilt he creates. With this same layout the pin ends up being 3 3/8 inches from PAP, this is a high flaring pin position. Because of these differences this ball is going to roll ENTIRELY different for the 2 bowlers. For my customer the ball is going to flare very quickly making the ball more responsive to friction, for his friend the ball flares a lot less making the ball smoother and more forward rolling. If we would have drilled this ball for my customer like this, he would have been expecting the ball to go be long and be smooth in the back of the lane since this is the reaction his friend gets. In reality with this layout putting the pin in a higher flaring position and his high rev rate there is a good chance this ball would try and read too early for him not giving him the ball motion he was looking for.

Due to so many different styles and releases in the sport of bowling drilling a ball from your PAP is very crucial. To get the desired reaction you want out of a bowling ball you can't just go off of where the pin and mass bias is in relation to your hand in the ball. Most pro shop operators can measure out your PAP in just a few minutes. Combining this with the proper layout for your game will make sure you get the most out of your next ball purchase.

How to find your PAP:

  1. 1. Cut a piece of white tape into about a 1" square.

  2. 2. Place the tape on the side of the ball opposite your track (right side for righties, left for lefties).

  3. 3. Throw the ball down the lane and adjust the tape until it makes a stable dot on the side of the ball through the front part of the lane.

  4. 4. You will then need to find out the horizontal and vertical measurements in relation to the center of your grip. Find the center of your grip (the point directly inbetween your fingers and thumb).

  5. 5. Draw a horizontal line intersecting that point and extend it toward the piece of tape until you reach the distance of the white tape. Measure this distance.

  6. 6. Then, if the tape isn't directly on the line, draw a vertical line intersecting the horizontal line and extend it up or down until you reach the center point of the tape. Measure this distance

  7. 7. You now know your PAP! Ex. 5 1/2 right x 3/4" up