We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How does Friction Affect the Motion of a Bowling Ball?

By Derek Schauland
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Sports n' Hobbies, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

As a bowling ball moves down the lane, the amount of oil used on the lane can greatly affect its motion. A bowling lane is oiled to increase the speed of the ball as it gets closer to the pins, but once it gets close, the lane is typically less oiled. The friction between the ball and the lane as the pins get closer can cause greater spin or speed and cause the motion of a bowling ball to change.

With greater friction, the spin and overall motion of a bowling ball will increase, causing the ball to spin across the lane. If the lane is very well oiled, the speed of the ball will increase and the spin will be reduced when the ball gets to the other end of the lane.

The motion also depends on the weight of the ball — a heavier bowling ball will incur greater friction as it rolls toward the pins than a lighter ball. Even on well oiled lanes, there will be more friction changing the motion of a bowling ball if the ball is heavier. If any spin is put on a bowling ball, the amount of hook that is achieved depends on the friction produced as the ball is in motion. Spin will produce greater hook effect if there is less oil on the lane, increasing the friction and allowing the spin of the ball to slow the forward motion and appear to have a stronger hook. If the lane is well oiled on the pin end, the bowling ball, even with spin, will have less of a hook effect because the friction between the ball and the lane will be less and the ball will reach the pins faster.

Changing the technique used to roll a bowling ball can also change how it moves. If a ball is rolled without spin or with very little spin to resist the forward motion, the affect of friction will be less apparent because the ball is not also rolling in a side to side motion. This should decrease the friction between the ball and the lane, allowing the bowling ball to increase speed toward the pins.

A sideways spinning bowling ball will have more friction against the lane as it rolls, because the ball is rolling in multiple directions. As the friction increases, the forward motion of the ball will slow and the hook will be more apparent.

The motion of a bowling ball can make all of the difference in a bowler's score. The best way to test how this works would be to go bowling; aside from being quite fun, it will also show the bowlers just how much the ball's motion can change the game.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Spotiche5 — On Apr 26, 2014

@ocelot60- You are right, and it is also all about the revolutions that your ball makes. I prefer more friction, because it seems to make getting a strike easier for me because the revolutions are greater.

When their is less friction in the lane, I just add a different twist and more force when I through the ball. This works for me, but every bowler's technique is different.

By Ocelot60 — On Apr 26, 2014

If you enjoy bowling simply for the sport and want to improve your game, you will learn how to use friction or the lack of friction to your advantage. After a few throws of the bowling ball, you can tell how much friction you have and adjust the way you throw the ball accordingly.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Sports n' Hobbies, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.