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Ball Review



Balls That Go Bang, and Some

Thoughts About the ’15 Open APPROPRIATE FOR the month in which we celebrate Independence Day, we have reviews of some balls that hit the pins with a big bang. There are eight balls featured in all, and each one can find a place in a bowler’s arsenal — from big,

strong hooking balls to those we need on drier or burnt conditions. Throw in an array of price points, and there truly is a wide variety. The 2015 USBC Open Championships will be finishing up as you read this, and I was happy to see a fair but challenging shot this year in El Paso. As we found out, the key to playing this year’s patterns involved not only matching up the balls, but more importantly, matching up the layout and surfaces to your game and the lane conditions. We didn’t hear many complaints about the patterns from around the bowling world, even though the

lanes were tough. In fact, it was nice to see bowlers being content with shooting 1800s, 1900s and 2000s this year, compared to being disappointed in years past if they didn’t shoot 2100 to be in the top 50. Also, realizing 3100 in team event is a very good score — and in the top 25 — is awesome to see. Kudos to the USBC and Kegel for a job well done.

THE TESTING:We once again tapped the talents of Terrance Reeves (a.k.a. “T”), a PBA Tour exempt player during the 2008-09 season and one of Kegel’s pattern testers. “T” has a rev rate around 400-rpm, and throws the ball around 18.5-mph. His axis is 4 1/2 over and zero up, and we used a 50/5/35 layout (5x4x3 in the VLS system). This is a pin-up layout for him, to see what kind of ball reaction he would get for our reviews. I used the same layout I have used for all reviewed balls thus far: 60/4.5/40 (VLS: 4.5x3.5x3). We threw each ball more than 30 times on three patterns: the 2015 USBC Open Doubles/ Singles, Kegel Stone Street (a heavier volume recreational pattern), and a 39-ft. light- er volume house pattern. We use CATS on each shot to track and keep records of our ball paths. We do all of our testing on lanes 1-4 at the Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, Fla., home of the flattest lanes on Earth, using Kegel ICE conditioner applied with the Kegel Lane Walker. We also use the Jayhawk ball scanner, which provides the surface roughness (RA) of a ball and the surface’s average true original finish out of the box after the factory process.

From the June issue of Bowlers Journal International.


METHODOLOGY The Bowlers Journal International Ball Motion Potential chart is designed to help bowlers un- derstand which lane conditions are best suited for the most recently introduced bowling balls in the marketplace. Placement positions on the chart are based on the “out of box” surface from the manufacturer. Surface adjustments can im- pact a ball’s performance and, thus, its position on the chart. The chart’s horizontal axis displays a ball’s

approximate total hook in the presence of oil. While some coverstocks may have similar maximum, dry lane, or coefficient-of-friction measurements, their ability to traction in oil can vary significantly.

Balls with minimal hook potential are placed on the far left side of the chart. Balls offering a moderate degree of hook are placed in the chart’s middle section. Balls with the greatest hook potential in heavy oil are placed on the right side of the chart. The chart’s vertical axis displays a ball’s

breakpoint shape. Balls offering more skip/snap reaction are placed higher on the chart. Balls offering a smoother, more arcing motion are placed lower on the chart. Chart placements are based on testing by BJI

ball reviewer Vernon Peterson, selected bowlers with varying release styles, CATS results, PBA player input, and discussions with ball company representatives.

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 applications. 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, de- signed 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 facto- ry-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 offering extra length for those

bowling on lighter oil concentrations. Also beneficial 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 include balls with a urethane or mild reactive cover, designed for a smooth arc to the pocket. Can also help those with higher rev rates con- trol motion and also can match up well from outside angles of attack. 13-15: Balls rated for slightly stronger and quicker reactions when encountering friction areas (as when the ball leaves the oil pattern). This range offers 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 gen- erally require more entry angle for above-aver- age pin carry.

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