Article Contents

  • 1. The basics of surface management
  • 2. Know the rules!
  • 3. Simple techniques
  • 4. Advanced techniques
  • 5. Practice makes perfect

It used to be so easy: there was dull and there was shiny. Dull balls were for oily lanes; shiny balls were for dry lanes. These days? Surface roughness is a key component to ball reaction and with the variety of conditions faced along with the increased rate of transition, managing that surface is vital to a bowler’s success.

Bowlers looking to improve their game often ignore the value of understanding surface management, so this month, that will be my focus. From the basics of what to use, to advanced techniques in the “grey area” of the rules, using the tricks of the pros can help anyone improve their game.

The basics of surface management

As stated earlier, the typical thought process is that sanded balls hook more and are designed for oil, while polished balls skid farther and are designed for drier conditions. While this is generally true from a lateral hook point of view (right-to-left or left-to-right), it is not necessarily true when looking at ball motion from front to back.

Sanded balls expend energy faster, transition from skid to roll more slowly and have a much smoother hook shape when compared to polished balls. The shinier a ball, the faster the transition from skid to roll, creating a more angular shape. This is a general rule that applies universally with regards to shape when comparing a single ball at two different surfaces. Exactly how much the ball hooks laterally is dependent on the lane conditions and bowler style.

Depending on conditions, sanded balls can actually hook less than polished ones because they lose too much energy too quickly. When considering a surface change, it is important to consider energy retention and hook shape first and lateral hook second.

There are multiple types of abrasives and polishes on the market. For the purpose of this article, we will ...

Tyrel Rose

About Tyrel Rose

Tyrel Rose is Head Coach of Team Canada's Men’s National Team, a director on the national board for the Canadian Tenpin Federation, an NCCP Competition Development level and USBC Bronze Certified coach, and a former Canadian National Champion. He owns and operates Gold Medal Bowling Boutique and lives in Montreal, Canada. Follow Tyrel at his bowling coaching blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.