Bowlers information

Positive Axis Point (PAP)

The PAP is your Positive Axis Point. This is the axis that your ball rolls on while traveling down the lane. Just like the Earth spins on an axis, so does your bowling ball. There are actually 2 axis points that make an imaginary line through your ball as it rolls, with the other being the Negative Axis Point (NAP). However, the only one we're concerned with right now is the PAP, the axis on the opposite side of your track. There are many ways to find your PAP, and your ball driller should be happy to go over their preferred method with you.

Bowling Ball Speed

Not all bowlers are familiar with aspects of bowling ball speed.

If you are interested in knowing a bit more about ball speed in general, here are a few bowling ball speed definitions and information to clarify terms you may here around the bowling centers and pro shop:

  • Average ball speed - bowling ball average speed accounts for the instantaneous speed a bowling ball is delivered and the speed measured at impact with the pins. The average of these two speeds produces an average ball speed.
  • Launch speed - this term is also referred to as initial speed and it is is measured at the moment a ball leaves the bowler’s hand.
  • Instantaneous speed - the measured ball speed at any given point on the lane as the ball travels down the lane.

Bowling Ball Rev Rate

 Bowlers are always asking how they can learn about their rev rate. Rev-rate is a term referring to the rate of revolution your bowling ball has based on your ball speed and delivery technique.

If you wish to learn your rev rate but have been told the best method is to use a camera or a computer, then perhaps this little guideline can help you get an approximate idea how many revs you deliver on your bowling ball:

If you deliver your ball at an average speed of 15-16 mph, the rev rate will be 200-250 rpm’s
(mph is miles per hour; rpm is revolutions per minute).

At a faster speed of 16-17 mph, you will have a rev rate of 250-300 rpm’s.

More speed yet in the range of 17-18 mph, you will have a rev rate of 300-350 rpm’s.

Continuing upward in speed of 18-19 mph, you will have a rev rate of 350-400 rpm’s.

Finally, if you deliver your ball at 19+ mph, you will have a rev rate of 400+ rpm’s.

Ball speed in these approximations is measured at the moment of delivery, not your average speed or the speed of your ball at impact with the pins.

Axis Rotation

 Axis rotation is measured on the ball’s horizontal plane. We locate a player’s positive axis point (PAP), which is the stable axis upon which the ball begins to initially rotate. To better understand axis rotation, put a small piece of white tape on your ball’s PAP. If your hand is up the back of the ball at release, that piece of white tape will be on the west side of the ball (for right handers). The more your hand moves around the ball at release (or, the more axis rotation you’re able to create), the more that white tape will move eastbound. Adjusting the axis rotation will get the ball to react differently to the lane.

Generally speaking, balls skid, then hook, then roll. Less rotation will shorten the skid phase and get the ball into the hook phase earlier, while maximum rotation will extend the skid phase of the ball and increase its hook potential down lane. It’s such a valuable tool because it will change the ball’s reaction while still allowing you to stay in the same part of the lane and use the same break point.

Axis Tilt

Axis tilt and axis of rotation are two terms used to describe the rolling motion on a bowling ball imparted by the bowler.
First, axis tilt is a measure of the angle of the initial spin axis to a horizontal plane.
Examples are a full roller or high track delivery style. The initial spin axis would be parallel or close to parallel with the lane surface.
One rotation of the ball would cover the major diameter of the ball.
A spinning type delivery caused by excessive finger rotation by the player would have an initial spin axis tilted up from the lane.
The ball track would be far away from the thumb and finger holes. One rotation of the ball would cover a much smaller diameter than seen with higher track players.
The spinning style will get the ball further down the lane before it hooks compared to a low axis tilt technique.
The high tilt ball motion is caused by the bowler using excessive finger rotation through the release process.
Axis of rotation is a measure of the direction of the initial rotation on the ball with respect to the lane.
It is a measurement of the angle between the initial spin axis and the foul line running across the lane.
A zero degree axis of rotation (low axis tilt) is all forward roll.
The rotation on the ball is in the direction of the forward travel.
The rotation will help keep the ball in the initial direction. The ball will not hook very much. It will roll out early.
A 90-degree axis of rotation is most likely all side roll.
The rotation is perpendicular to the initial direction.
This rotation is trying to make the ball hook at a 90-degree angle to the initial direction giving the ball more potential to hook.
This style causes the ball to skid further down the lane and then hook more on the back end of the lane.


How do you find your ball speed?

How do you find your rev rate?

How do you find your axis rotation?

How do you find your axis tilt?

What are the lane conditions?

It's the first thing you try to figure out when you bowl. You throw your warm-up shots starting on the center dot and then ask yourself, "Does my ball take off too much to the left?" If so, this means the lane is dry and you need to adjust to the left. On the other hand, "Does you ball not hook?" This means the lane is oily and you need to adjust to the right. The key to remember is to always adjust to the same direction as the error.  

Sometimes you need to ask yourself, "Am I not releasing it right?" Most likely you are releasing it right, it's just that the lane condition is not medium. It would be easier to determine the lane conditions if you could see the oil located on the surface of the lanes, but this is the tricky part. You can't see it with your eyes. Sometimes you can tell by examining your ball when it comes back. You may notice an oil ring on the ball that tells you that the lanes may be oily. But for the most part, you have to watch how your ball reacts to the lane. When the lanes are oily and you move to the right, turn your shoulders in. In bowling, this is called "closing your shoulders" for oily lanes. When the lanes are dry and you move to the left, you open your shoulders so the ball goes out and hooks in. Bowling lanes tend to start out a little oilier, but as the game progresses, you will notice that your ball will hook more and you have to adjust. Move to the left and open your shoulders to adjust to the constantly changing bowling lane conditions. As you can see, bowling on dry lanes is very different than bowling on oily lanes.

In order to determine the condition of the lane and adjust accordingly, you must be consistent in your stance, delivery, release, timing, and follow-through. Adjusting to lane conditions is possible only if:

  • You have an accurate, consistent arm swing 
  • You arm swing is timed properly with your foot movements 
  • The release has been mastered and is the same every time 
  • You walk straight to the foul line without drifting
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