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Ball Motion

"Some people ask questions expecting you to give an answer as a multiple choice question...what if the answer isn’t an option? It’s an art form not a science test. Why drill a strong ball weak ... a weak ball strong ... do you do this and why? Neither, because the layout is best used as a transition tool. The layout doesn’t make a ball do anything but tweak the characteristics of the ball. Transition is easier to follow with certain layouts. Once you figure out what they are for your game you should stay within that range and select the motion characteristics based on the construction of the ball." - Rick Benoit, founder of Bowl U.

"More people should focus on choosing the proper response level of the cover and the getting the surface prep right. If that’s right, that can overcome a layout that’s a little off. Doesn’t work well the other way around" - John Janawicz

There are 3 types of ball motion. They are Smooth, Hook and Set, and Skid/Flip. These motions are all based upon how the bowling ball responds to FRICTION. How a bowling ball responds to friction will determine its reaction. Always remember that bowling balls all respond the same way to oil, they skid.

There are 3 types of responses to friction.

  1. Too Slow
  2. Too Fast
  3. Correctly.

2 of the 3 responses to friction are horrible with the worst one being a ball that responds too fast to friction. This response will create an Over/Under reaction.

Pin Down or Pin Up?

Pin down does not make the ball roll earlier and Pin up does not make the ball roll later. You can test this yourself. Take a pin down ball and polish the cover as smooth and shiny as you can get it. Take a pin up ball and sand the cover with 500 grit. Throw both and observe which one hooks and rolls earlier. Then what does it do? It influences the ball's response time to friction. Pin down will slow down the ball's response to friction and Pin up will cause the response to friction to be faster. You change the coverstock, using sanding pads or polish, to get the ball to the desired breakpoint (where you want the ball to start reading the friction) and use the layout to help control the ball's response to the friction.


Bowling is an Optical Illusion. What you see is not really what happens. Watch each of these videos. This is what you see as the ball travels down the lane.

Now here is what the motion of a bowling ball really looks like as it travels down the lane.