Knowing how to control the speed of a bowling ball is an important skill in the sport. You’ll be playing at different lanes that have different conditions.
Some lanes may not even in the best shape. To ensure you can still perform well, you have to be able to adapt to any lane condition.
One of the techniques you need to do so is being able to control the speed of your ball.
The Importance of Ball Speed Control
There are many reasons why knowing how to control the speed of a bowling ball is a skill that every bowler requires.
Here are some factors to consider.
Adjusting the speed of your bowling ball is one way to adapt to the condition of the lane you’re playing and getting your ringer no matter what.
For example, if you have a bowling lane that is “wet”, it has more oil on it.
Because the lane is more slippery, this can affect the movement of your ball.
In this case, you have to slow down the speed so that you can still get a high score.
Conversely, if the lane is “dry”, it has very little oil and therefore greater friction.
For a dry lane, being able to increase the speed of the ball will help you win.
You’ll play with bowling balls that use various coverstock material.
Different types of coverstock will give different reactions to the lane.
A good bowler can adjust the speed of the ball to what the material needs.
Mastering how to hook a ball is challenging. Knowing how to control your speed will help you manage the amount of hook that your ball creates.
It also makes it easier to adapt your hook to a diverse variety of pin formations.
With the skill to increase or decrease ball speed accordingly, you’ll have more power and better aim.
Controlling ball speed also means controlling power.
It’s important to know when to boost or diminish your ball speed so that you can use the right amount of power.
Balls that move faster have more power and yield greater kickback and pin impact.
But sometimes you don’t need as much power.
A hook that is too fast and powerful risks losing control and getting you a split.
When it happens, you need to reduce the speed for greater control in order to get a spare.
Calculating Your Average Ball Speed
To find out the average speed of your bowling ball, you can use the automatic scoring device.
It’s found in most bowling alleys and it’s really useful to see how fast your ball travels as it gets closer to the pins.
But the calculation of this device may not be close to the accurate average speed.
Another way to find your speed is by using a stopwatch. Measure the time taken from the release of the ball to the moment it hits the pins. Here is how to do it.
- Get a friend to record time with a stopwatch.
- Your friend must start the stopwatch when you release the ball and stop it when the ball hits the headpin.
- Try shooting five throws and measure the time taken for each.
- Take the average time by totaling it up and dividing it by 5.
- Calculate the average speed by dividing the length of a lane (60 feet) by the average time.
You can use this method repeatedly to see how you’ve improved over time.
Increasing Ball Speed
Now that you know how to calculate your average speed, how to increase it?
Higher ball speed is great for a dry lane as there is more friction.
To increase speed, you need to first raise your ball 3 to 4 inches higher than your ordinary starting position.
The ball should be up to around your waist before you move.
With higher speed, gravity will increase the speed of the ball. If the speed is not enough, you can raise it even higher.
You also need to move back in the same distance you’ve raised your ball.
For instance, if you move the ball 4 inches higher than your usual stance, you also need to move 4 inches back.
What if the lane is so dry that you still can’t get the speed you need? In this case, you need to add muscle to your throw.
Do it after you reach the peak of your backswing, on the down part of the swing.
Faster ball and more muscle might cause your ball to hook too much.
During the delivery, open your wrist more. This should resolve the issue.
Decreasing Ball Speed
It’s different if you have a wet lane that has so much oil.
If your ball slides well past the breakpoint you aim for, the lane may be wet.
To slow down the speed of your ball, the technique is the opposite of increasing it.
So, rather than raising the ball from the usual starting point, lower it.
Lower your stance between 2 inches to a foot and moving back accordingly.
This will reduce the momentum of the ball.
The closer is the ball to the ground, the slower the speed will be.
If you just need to slow down a bit, try doing a 2-inch drop and adjust it.
If you really need to slow down, place it a foot lower and don’t use any muscle while swinging.
Swing your arm naturally and let gravity do its course.
You can even bend your knee to lower your height further.
Alternatively, you can set your approach so that your starting position is closer to the foul line.
Being able to adjust your speed is an important skill that will help you improve your game a lot.
Remember that regular practice will help you with speed control.
Being able to adapt to any change will help you succeed in bowling, and knowing how to control the speed of a bowling ball is crucial for that.