BY TOM KOUROS : Reprinted Courtesy of Bowlers Journal International
IN THE MIDDLE AGES lived a sorcerer named Merlin. He performed many miraculous feats, one of which was to embed a sword in a huge boulder, making it impossible for anybody but the next King of England to remove it. Many tried, but all failed. Then a young man named Arthur stepped forward and easily unsheathed the sword.
Some time ago, a struggling bowler known as Sam entered a pro shop. There, a ball drilling sorcerer designed for him an artful creation of magical properties. As a result, Sam left that shop a new bowler.
The metamorphosis was astounding. In short order, his average skyrocketed and his teammates started calling him "The Slasher," denoting his new ball's effect on the pins.
With regard to King Arthur's feat, that still remains an enigma. Indeed, for hundreds of years, much has been postulated. Some say it was simply Merlin's black magic; others say it was Arthur's great strength. There are even those who believe that Arthur used something like WD 40 to get the sword out of that boulder.
But there's no mystery about Sam's success. It is known as the "exotic ball experience," and across this nation, pro shop wizards - better known as ball technicians - are increasingly arming average bowlers with the formidable equipment of today.
In that vein, I recall what I wrote years ago: "Physically, bowling is a sport comprised of two elements... accuracy and action. In terms of priority, develop your accuracy skills first. Once you are hitting the pocket on a regular basis, then begin enhancing your action technique. Keep in mind that, in bowling, action is primarily applying a torque (force) with the hand to the ball. This torque is comprised of three factors... lift, turn and extension. And be careful not to stress accuracy at the expense of action and vice-versa."
Well, since writing those words, the game has changed somewhat. It still requires the accuracy skills of the past, but the action aspect is a different story. Much of the ball action today is built into the bowling balls by the use of sophisticated weight blocks, dynamic balancing and modifying the coverstock with more or less porosity as the lane condition demands. It is a fact that revolutionary weight blocks and dynamic imbalancing have inserted much of the torque requirement into the ball, thus lessening the responsibility for the hand to apply a strong torque.
For example, the farther the weight mass is located away from the axis, the greater the torque effect it has on ball roll. Briefly, the principle is this: In order to overcome a resistance, you must expend a certain amount of effort. This is always the product of the force which you exert times the distance through which you move the force. What you lose in distance you gain in power and vice-versa; 10 ounces moving one inch is the same as one ounce moving 10 inches. A torque working through an angle is work, just as a force acting through a distance. Understand that the definition of work in physics is not quite the same as the dictionary definition. Work always implies motion. It is the product of a definite force acting through a definite distance.
To be sure, these modern balls have been a boon to bowlers young and old, as evidenced by the many honor scores registered of late. Where par in bowling was widely recognized for many years as a 200 average, that distinction has now been upgraded to a 220 average. And if you are still holding on to that ball that Aunt Sarah bought you for Christmas 12 years ago, do yourself a favor and get down to your local pro shop and modernize your weaponry. Trust me, no matter how talented you are, you can't compete using old, antiquated equipment in today's environment.
LPs are a thing of the past. Likewise, give that "old apple" a descent burial and get in on the fun.