Bowling Ball Tracks Explained

What Do Multiple Rings Mean? Why Does Track Matter? Read On.

Multicolor bowling balls on rack at bowling alley
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Your bowling ball's track is easy to see once you know what to look for, especially when bowling on oily lanes. After your ball comes back in the ball return, look at the ring or rings of oil on the ball. That is your track. It's the part of the ball that actually touches the lane on the way toward the pins.

Why Are There Multiple Rings?

If you see multiple rings, you have flared on your shot. This is neither a universally good nor bad thing (just like everything else in bowling), as you may want more or less flare depending on the type of shot you're trying to throw. The rings will likely be close together and slightly overlapping, telling you the ball is trying to change its rotation axis in an attempt to rotate around the ball's center of gravity.

The number of rings you see are related to your rev rate. More rings mean more rev rate, in general. Again, there is no ideal number of rings to have on a bowling ball. If you have a low rev rate, you can use it to your advantage. Likewise, if you have a high rev rate, you can use it to your advantage. Thus, there's no need to fret about having too few or too many rings on the bowling ball. At least, there's no reason to fret quite yet. (Don't worry, as this isn't something you'll ever have to worry about unless you get serious enough into bowling that you're competing at its highest levels, in which case you'll know exactly what to do).

Axis Flare

The more flare you have on your ball, the earlier it will hook. A single ring (representing no flare) on the ball means it will hook later.

So, if you're trying to throw a shot that will hook late down the lane, you don't want a lot of flare on the ball. If you want your shot to hook earlier, you'll be glad to see the multiple rings. Even if you haven't thrown the ball recently, the track may still be visible from previous games.

Incidentally, if you're still seeing evidence of your track, you probably want to clean your ball more often.

Why Does it Matter?

An immediate benefit to looking at the track on your ball is to see visual evidence of how the ball is performing during a given game. You can use that information to help make adjustments during the game. Do you need more speed, less speed or maybe even a different layout on a different ball? All these factors go into building your ideal arsenal, and the more information you can gather and interpret, the better.

More important, the track on your ball is crucial to finding your positive axis point (PAP), which is essential in ball drilling. When you want your ball to be drilled perfectly for your game, you need to reference the pin as well as your personal PAP. Your ball driller will be extremely happy to have this information, as it makes his or her job much easier. That, and it's something that should be known before even scribing a bowling ball. The PAP is a highly personal and totally unique factor to every bowler, and it can't be found without the track.

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