Skid, Hook and Roll: the Phases of Ball Rotation

The roll of a bowling ball down the lanes is a beautiful sight to behold, but its easy to view it as one motion rather than the distinct phases that actually make up your ball’s path.

Ball rotation, as it turns out, consists of three phases which are important to understand. This article will go over the fundamentals.

The skid phase

This is the first phase of your ball’s motion which occurs on about the first 15-20 feet of th elane.

In this phase the ball travels at its fastest and also has the most axis rotation.

The Hook Phase

When it gets past the arrows at 20 or 22 feet, your ball enters the second phase of ball movement which is called the hook phase.

This phase goes down to about 40-45 feet or so. This is also where the ball’s breakpoint is.

The Roll Phase

The last phase of ball movement occurs as your ball is finally approaching the pins.

At this stage the ball is moving end over end with no axis rotation. It also travels at the slowest speed of all three phases.

Why Ball Motion Phases are Important

You may be wondering what to do with this information. Why are these three phases important to know as a bowler?

As it turns out, understanding ball motion is crucial to understanding equipment: for example which ball materials to use so you can best match up to the relevant lane conditions.

And if you understand ball motion, you can troubleshoot issues with both your equipment and technique that are leading to sub-optimal rotation and results.

For example, you may find that your skid phase to go much longer than 20 or 22 feet, which then extends your hook phase, and you may never get to the roll phase. A result of this can be leaving corner pins rather than getting a strike.

The graphic below shows the three phases in a more visual form. As you’ll see, it shows the part of the lane associated with each phase (as explained above) as well as images and a graph of your bowling ball and how it is behaving at each phase. We hope that this image helps you understand the concepts of ball motion and the skid, hook and roll phases. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Breaking Down Ball Motion, USBC Bowling Academy

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