This is a collaboration between The Bowling Universe and The Solid Nine Podcast. This is a transcription of episode 3, "Building an Arsenal". If you'd rather listen to it, you can do so below, on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to subscribe to catch-up on anything you've missed and for all future episodes.
Let’s talk to about building an arsenal.
So when people buy bowling balls, they don't always know what to buy and they need assistance. However, not all pro shops are the greatest at helping their customers find the right ball. So, they will sell them a 5 ball arsenal of high-end, super aggressive bowling balls. The bowler ends up with five nearly identical balls, and therefore, switching balls during a game produces little to no change. They definitely don't work on Game 3 when the lanes are scorched because the balls won't get through the head.
There's a right way and a wrong way to build your arsenal. I’m not saying this is the right way, but this is the system I came up with that I like. With this system, there are a few things you'll need to know:
- You have to know what type of bowler you are.
- You need an idea of how "aggressive" bowling balls are ranked against each other.
- You need to know, based on your style, what type of bowling balls you need.
What Type Of Bowler Are You?
There's five types of bowlers from the straightest player (speediest) to the strongest (highest revs).
- Strongly speed dominant
- Speed dominant
- Rev dominant
- Strongly rev dominant
So, you need to figure out which type of bowler you are.
To be an "even" player, you should throw at a ball speed of 18 mph and a rev rate of 350 RPM (revolutions per minute, or the number of times the ball spins). If 18 MPH and 350 RPM is even, so is 17 MPH and 300 RPM, 16 MPH and 250 RPM or 19 MPH 400 RPM.
Speed Dominant and Rev Dominant Bowlers
Now if you are 17 MPH, 350 RPM or 17 MPH, 400 RPM or somewhere around there, you’re going to be a little rev dominant, meaning your ball revs faster than your throwing speed. If you’re speed dominant, you’re going to be like 19 MPH 350 RPM or 19 MPH 300 RPM.
Strongly Speed Dominant and Strongly Rev Dominant Bowlers
Then, of course, you get to extreme situations where people are strongly rev dominant or strongly speed dominant.
First off, if you fall in these categories, you really need to work on getting a regular rev or speed. You don’t want to be one of these outliers. If you're someone that throws the ball out of your hand 16 MPH and you have a 400 rev rate, that's bad because you're limiting what you can do.
If, on the flip side, you’re someone that is throwing the ball 20 MPH with 300 RPM, work on slowing down your speed, or increasing your rev rate. One of those two things needs to happen, because again, you're limiting yourself. You’re not being as complete of a bowler as you can be.
Classification and Ranking System
The second thing you need to know when choosing your bowling balls is the classification system. I use 1-7, 7 being the strongest ball and 1 being the weakest.
So, you will have balls that fall under the category of 1-7. Most companies and websites will state in a roundabout way what category each ball falls under, usually by saying if the ball is good for dry, medium, or heavy oil.
As an example, I'm going to use the Brunswick Line. It’s more familiar to me because I was on staff with them for a while and I know their line a little bit better. I'm not saying you should go buy their balls, but this is just for the ease of explanation.
- Type 1 Ball: The Rhino would be a good example of a 1 ball. It's an entry-level reactive ball, not really that strong, and still hooks some.
- Type 2 Ball: would be something like the Fanatic BTU (Better Than Urethane).
- Type 3 Ball: would probably be the melee jab, maybe it’s closer to a 4 ball.
- Type 4 Ball: the Fanatic would be a 4 ball.
- Type 5 Ball: would probably be something like the True Nirvana or perhaps the Danger Zone.
- Type 6 Ball: would be something like the Fanatic SS or the Quantum Forest Green Solid.
- Type 7 Ball: You have a handful of balls at this level. The Nirvana, Absolute, Nirvana, Ultimate Nirvana, those are all very aggressive, high-end balls.
This would be the scale you’re looking at.
You can use this system with whatever company you like to throw or if you don't care what company, you can piece it together from brand to brand. Try to figure it out and rank each ball from 1 - 7, what's their weakest stuff to their top-of-the-line stuff and how it all fits together.
A good way to do this is to use a spreadsheet to rate and categorize the balls. Just make sure to use the out-of-box surface. The surface doesn't have to stay there, but that's just how the ball companies do it, especially ones that give a hook rating, like Hammer with their FCC system. You have to do something to compare and using the box finish to do that is easiest. You can always make adjustments; just let that be a starting point.
Side note: In my opinion, I think Radical has the best chart there is. Their chart shows you what the balls are good for, what it might be okay for, and what not to use it on.
What Balls To Buy
Then, last thing, what balls should you buy? (you may want to check out the article "Top 3 Bowling Balls For Every Type of Bowler")
Once you know what type of bowler you are and what ball ratings are, you'll need to figure out which balls you need. We'll use a five ball arsenal, which is pretty common. You'll need an A ball through E ball, A ball being the weakest and E ball being the strongest.
Let’s go through each of those five categories of bowler:
- Strongly speed dominant: you need a 4, 5, 6, 7, & 7.
- Speed dominant: you should have a 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7.
- Even: you should have a 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.
- Rev dominant: you should have a 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5.
- Strongly rev dominant: you should have a 1, 1, 2, 3, & 4.
For somebody that is even: if you only have a 5 ball arsenal, then you don't necessarily need the weakest ball on the market or the strongest ball either. If you are only working on five balls and are strongly speed dominate, then you don't need anything as weak as a Rhino. The weakest ball in your bag should be something like the Fanatic. However, for somebody that's even, that would be their middle of their lineup.
For somebody who's strongly speed dominate, throwing the Fanatic down the lane is not going to hook a lot. It's still a fairly strong ball, but you will overpower it. You need something that will get down the lane, but also hook when you're throwing it 22 MPH with no hand. So, that would be your 4 ball.
Vice versa: if you are a strongly rev dominate person, then you need a 1 ball. In some cases you don't need two ones. You may need a plastic ball (a polyester ball) as your strike ball. Followed by a one, for the sake of doing this I listed it as 1, 1. In Brunswick Line, it would be two Rhinos and you don't have to drill them the same. You can play with placement of the finger holes. Perhaps try drilling one a little stronger, or adding a balance hole so it picks up a little quicker. You could also play with the surface of one and leave the other one close to box. This would create a difference between the two balls, which is the goal you’re trying to achieve here.
The reason you need to know which balls to buy is because you don't want five of the same balls. You don't want three of the same, or two of the same. You want an array of balls that work with your bowling style, not against it.
When I say “two of the same ball,” I don't necessarily mean you don't want two Rhinos. Two of the same model is fine, as long as they’re different layouts and possibly different surfaces. If you stand at board 20 with one, then move to board 23rd, 25th, or 27th with the other and there's a big enough difference, that's good. The point is: don’t have two balls that do the same thing.
Basically, you just want to make sure that you're creating large enough gaps between the balls in your arsenal, and that's what this system does. If you are somebody that's an even bowler, then you don't need anything incredibly weak or anything incredibly strong. If you're becoming more competitive and participating in tournaments, but you're not seeing the results you want, then use this system to figure out what balls suit your style.
For example, in our area places that runs a lot of big tournaments, they play dry a lot. The oil pattern goes away pretty quickly and it gets a little hard to get the ball down the lane come game five. So, maybe you need another weak ball or maybe something that is still a 2 ball, but with a much weaker drilling. For example, you're going to go with like a 2 inch pin-to-PAB to really calm the ball down and make sure it gets down the lane. Something like that might work.
Maybe the house that has tournaments in your area is like ice. Every time you bowl you have to play much tighter, and when that happens, you might decide that your 6th ball will be something really high-end and aggressive.
Maybe you have a 4 and a 5, but you’re looking for something that cuts in between those two. You can fill in the gaps once you start getting to that level where you think you need ten balls. You might want to have two balls that have similar overall motion but different shapes, like one that picks up and is a little rollier, and the other one skates further and cuts harder. Different shapes carry better in different houses.
Another thing you could do if you’re going up to ten balls is to try to get that same set. If you're even and have that 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6. I would say get another 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, but create a different shape with them. Let’s say you have a 2 ball, the Fanatic BTU. Well, the Fanatic BTU is going to be a smoother motion. Now, let's say you have the Johnny Petraglia LT 48, which is also a 2, but this one will give you better length and harder motion in the backend. So, now you have two 2 balls that might line up the same, but are going to have different shapes to the hole, and that's better.
This is just a way to help you pick your next ball. It's not a perfect system, but it gives you a better idea of what you need. It also helps you know your bowler type and throwing style.