Understanding Pin Placement

September 2, 2015

  • There are many factors that you need to know when selecting the right bowling ball for you and the condition you are bowling on.  By far the most important factor in bowling ball reaction is the bowler's release.  A bowling ball will not correct poor technique.  The type of coverstock material and preparation is the most important element in choosing a ball for proper ball reaction. The core design is the engine that drives the ball. The proper core will enhance the ball's performance. The static balance (side weight, finger weight, etc.) has little influence in ball reaction and is lest significant in the overall ball selection. The drilling layout (pin placement, i.e., the top of the weight block) should complement the core design and coverstock preparation.

    • A bowling ball should match the player's style for a given lane condition for optimum ball reaction. The incorrect ball can limit your margin of error and decrease pin carry. However, a bowling ball cannot make up for a poor shot.

 

  • In the drilling layout, the pin placement (how close or far the pin is in relationship to your positive axis point) determines the ball reaction you will have. Your axis of rotation is the initial axis of the bowling ball as it first leaves your hand.

    • In order for you to know your axis point, you will need to bring a bowling ball that you use to your pro shop and they will be able to measure it for you.

 

  • If you put the pin directly on your axis point, you will get the ball to roll early producing little backend reaction. This will also decrease the flair potential of that bowling ball. Flair potential is the result of the ball changing from the bowler's axis at release towards the ball's preferred spin axis.

    • For example, a bowling ball that has a flare potential of 4-8 inches; if you drill this ball pin axis, it will flare the minimal amount, which in this case would be 4 inches. This is a drilling pattern that is good when the lanes have heavy oil (tight) in the front and the back ends are dry causing uncontrollable hook. This could be used on a short oil pattern and fresh, clean backends.

    • Most people have heard of leverage. Placing the pin 3 3/8 inches from you positive axis point (PAP) creates a leverage drilling. This produces the maximum amount of flare in a particular ball. Going back to the ball which flares 4-8 inches, a leverage drilling in this ball would create a flare potential of 8 inches providing you have a strong release. Please note that all bowling balls have different flare potentials and maximum flare potential is dependent on the bowler's release. If you move the pin farther away from the PAP, the opposite effect happens.
    • The farther you move the pin away from the PAP, the longer it will go down the lane.
    • If you place the pin 5-6 1/2 inches from your PAP, you will create length with more backend reaction. This pin placement would be good to use when the front part of the lane is hooking. This will allow the ball to clear the heads easily and retain energy in the backends.

 

  • Mass Bias is another way that the ball reaction can be tweaked.  Mass bias is created by using weight blocks or protrusions to create an asymmetric design.  Placement of the mass bias and center of gravity (cg) is secondary to pin placement.

    • Mass bias placement is used for breakpoint variations. Another aspect you should know is that the pin location in reference to your grip plays a role also.

    • When looking at your grip, where is the pin located?
      • If you have a pin above the fingers it will flip harder on the backend than if it is below the fingers. If it is above the fingers it is called the flip position.
      • If it is located below the fingers, it is referred to as the free spin position. There are a lot of factors to consider when getting a bowling ball drilled for you and your needs. A bowling ball should match the player style and lane conditions.

(When talking to your pro shop operator, make sure you explain what the lanes are doing for you and show them the equipment you are using. They may ask you to throw a few shots to see your game. In doing so, this will allow them to make a better educated decision on what coverstock, surface preparation and pin placement you need).

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