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MOVING THE CHAINS: Each lane at the Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, Fla., is equipped with a system of moveable chains that enable manipulation of its topography. When three of the world’s greatest bowlers—Pete Weber, Norm Duke, and Rhino Page — were brought in to bowl, the topography on one lane



of the pair they bowled on was manipulated without their knowledge. Watch as they throw virtually identical shots on two lanes with the same lane pattern, but yield stunningly different results from one lane to the next, prompting Weber to say, “I owe a lot of lanemen an apology.”

to play outside. So, the guys that can get way inside use that bank like a race track and do really well. “But when you go 37 feet and less,

now everybody has to be right. Now, they’re trying to minimize the influence of topography, and if a bowler has more side roll, the ball’s going to see topography more quickly. It’s going to use up energy more quickly, so now people with more end-over-end roll are affected less. In that environment, lower axis rotation and higher ball speed will always be good.”

To accept that no lane in the world

is perfectly flat also is to accept that topography is as inevitable a variable in bowling as oil. Some tools bowlers can use to manage the implications of that reality include awareness, ball speed, hand position, and playing the shape of the lane as deliberately as one might play the shape of a lane pattern. A bowler who knows that so-

called “fried” heads may actually be depressed heads is a bowler who knows that, depending on pattern

length, playing “the ramp” or adjusting hand position to change axis rotation may turn that obstacle into an advantage. Another form of awareness, says Thompson, can occur when “you make a small move and suddenly the ball hooks 10 times more than it should have,” or “if you know you threw it well, or at least decent, and the ball does something strange.” Ball speed helps circumvent the

effects of the topsy-turvy topography today’s synthetic lane surface may well present at any given center. Just as

a faster car feels the bumps on a dirt road less severely than a slower car, a ball traveling faster requires more force to throw it off-line than a ball traveling more slowly. On a crowned lane, however, slower ball speed will likely be more beneficial, as the ball has to “climb the hill” to make it back toward the pocket. As Trunk says, “We’ve ignored

gravity and focused on oil patterns too much in recent history.” Bowlers who shift that focus may also be bowlers who shift their fortunes.

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