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Ball Review


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Tips from the Pros for Ball Junkies HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED how pro bowlers approach their equip-

ment, drillings, layouts and lane play? So have I, and that’s why I decided to pick the brains of three well-known pros — Chris Barnes, one of the most versatile players in the game and a consummate technician; Mike DeVaney, a power-fi nesse player who possesses uncanny instincts; and Scott Norton, a courageous and intelligent player who bowls on the “easy” side of the lane (he’s a lefty). As space allows, we’ll feature some questions and answers with these three

pros, beginning with this question: When do you prefer to use a stronger core/ cover ball drilled with a weaker layout, such as a 6-inch pin distance? DeVaney: “I rarely use such weak pin placements, regardless of a ball’s

strength.” Barnes: “I prefer this type of drilling when I’m playing the gutter on one of the

shorter patterns, or when I am not able to ‘cross zones’ (crossing fewer than 3-4 boards through the front of the lane) and the lane has a lot of oil in the front.” Norton: “Fortunately, or unfortunately, I’m left-handed, so I don’t chase transi-

tion as much. But I tend to prefer changing balls because left-handers are very often pigeon-holed into one zone of the lane, so if we were to move out of it, our chance at scoring would decrease dramatically.”

Each month, bowlers journal interactive will reprint the BJ ball review by Joe Cerar. This issue also includes video demonstrations featuring one or more of the tested balls.


THE TESTING This month, ball testing was performed at Classic Lanes and Olympic Lanes in Milwaukee. We were able to test on both AMF SPL and Brunswick Anvilane synthetic lane surfaces. Our test patterns included the USBC White and the PBA Viper. We also bowled on fresh and broken- down typical house shots at both centers. My test staff included Scott Stolz and Matt Duty. Our rev rates range from 300 to 450, with ball speeds between 16- and 19-mph. All three of us can change our tilts and axis rotations to modify roll characteristics.

HOOK POTENTIAL 35-45: Balls with lower total hook ranges, best suited for lighter oil concentrations. Players with slower speeds or higher rev rates may also prefer balls in this range for medium oil ap- plications. 45-51: Balls with medium hook ability, best suited for the vast majority of “typical house

shots” and some lower-volume Sport patterns. This hook range should be represented by the “centerpiece” ball in most arsenals. 51-60+: Balls with greater total hook, designed for heavier oil volumes. Players with higher speeds or lower rev rates, who need added lane traction, may also prefer balls in this range.

LENGTH RATINGS 8-12: Earlier rolling balls that read the lane sooner. These products generally come factory- sanded with lower grit surfaces, and match up well with speed-dominant styles and those bowling on longer patterns. 12-15: Medium-length balls that produce easier length through the midlane. Good for most house shots and medium-volume Sport patterns. 15-19+: Balls off ering extra length for those bowling on lighter oil concentrations. Also ben- efi cial for slower speed players, or those with higher rev rates needing added push downlane.

BREAKPOINT SHAPE 10-13: Slower-response balls that read the friction areas more gradually. This range may in- clude balls with a urethane or mild reactive cover, designed for a smooth arc to the pocket. Can also help those with higher rev rates control motion and match up well from outside angles of attack. 13-15: Balls rated for slightly stronger and quicker reactions when encountering friction ar- eas (as when the ball leaves the oil pattern). This range off ers a balance of control and back- end angularity. 15-18+: Balls that respond more quickly and aggressively to friction areas. This range can help those with less hand action create more angularity near the pocket. Also preferred when playing deeper inside angles, which generally require more entry angle for above-average pin carry.

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