How to Build an Effective Arsenal
As your game continues to develop and the shots become more consistent, you will begin to notice that the lanes play differently. The type of lanes, time of day, current weather conditions, number of games bowled and who has previously bowled on the lanes are just a few things that will affect how a ball reacts.
If you’re ready to buy a second bowling ball or looking to add to your arsenal, you need to make smart choices with your money which means knowing what you need. A dangerous mindset is to always want the most powerful ball. If you already own a very aggressive ball, buying another one will mean having two pieces of equipment that essentially do the same thing.
Use the logic applied to golf. Golfers carry as many as nine different irons and four different drivers in their bags. Each club is designed to drive the ball different distances. Purchasing all aggressive equipment would be like golfers having only drivers in their bags. Look to expand the ability to play on different lane conditions by using different tools. Buying equipment ranging from very aggressive to fairly tame will provide versatility to play the game.
If you have a ball and you already know what it does on the lanes, it’s your favorite ball or maybe you’re only one, then you have a benchmark. A benchmark ball is your favorite and most predictable tool and is the easiest to understand a lane condition based on your game.
Do the work to make the best choice
Do your research and learn about your style of play and the environment you’re playing on. Do you throw the ball fast or slow? Do you have a high revolution rate or a lower one? Do you prefer to hook the ball from gutter to gutter or subscribe to the philosophy that “straighter is greater?” What type of lane condition(s) will you be bowling on? All of these questions should be considered before selecting an arsenal and should play into your decision process. If you need help, look for a USBC Certified Coach and/or an IBPSIA Proshop Professional.
Commit to Change
Once you have you’re details it’s time to make the choice(s). Your arsenal may contain any of three types of ball cover finishes: sanded (dull), benchmark, (lightly polished or lightly sanded) and polished (shiny). Equipment with a sanded surface should be used on oily lane conditions and by players with higher ball speeds, this helps the ball slow down and react to the lanes effectively. A benchmark ball surface should be the one that is smooth and predictable and is used when lane conditions are not too oily or too dry. The polished ball will have a shiny surface and should be used primarily on drier lane conditions to help get the ball further down the lane before reacting.
Maintain the Investment
To keep your new toy clean, think of your new ball as a new car. Like a car, you always want it to look good and perform well so regular cleaning and maintenance is a must. Periodically polishing a ball will maintain its shiny, low-friction surface. Ball polishers found in many bowling centers are used to help restore this type of ball surface. Various types of polishing compounds designed specifically for bowling balls may be purchased at your local pro shops. Before polishing a ball, it should be cleaned with an approved cleaner (Click here for a list of USBC approved polish and cleaner).
Any maintenance to rough up the surface should be performed AFTER cleaning it and at the pro shop as it takes skills and equipment to perform the job correctly. After all you should protect your investment and sometimes you need to let the professionals detail it so it’s as good as new.
Making spares not only increases your average but keeps you in the game
If you’re in need of multiple balls to tackle leagues, tournaments or maybe you’re just that guy who needs the latest and greatest there is, keep in mind that you should have one ball that’s aggressive and hooks early, one benchmark, and one that’s smooth and goes long down the lane to round out an arsenal. A three ball arsenal should be a staple if you taking the game serious and want the right options. And don’t forget, nobody strikes every time. For these situations, consider getting a spare ball for a straighter path when shooting at spares. This is one place where straighter “IS” greater.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what your arsenal should look like and how each kind of ball has a specific role to play. As you learn to adapt, these tools will help get the job done.