Motion System Design
Bowling research strikes skill and technology balance

Bowling research strikes skill and technology balance

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) has wrapped up a major two-year study of bowling ball motion and how high-tech equipment may influence lane conditions and scoring. The USBC Bowling Ball Specifications Task Force is now analyzing research results and plans to meet this month to discuss the data further. USBC expects to release complete research results to the public this spring.

USBC's goal is to gather data about the complex dynamics and inner motion characteristics of today's advanced bowling balls. USBC performed tests on how balls with different properties and characteristics act together, then used this and other information obtained from ball manufacturers and other industry leaders to set performance-based specifications for bowling balls used in competition.

As the sport's governing body, USBC undertook the research by working cooperatively with bowling manufacturers. One impetus for the study is that over the past 20 years, bowling's credibility has been compromised in part due to technological advancements that have greatly affected scoring in the sport, according to USBC.

The testing process officially began in summer 2006 after the formation of the USBC task force. A total of 59 particle and reactive resin bowling balls were used for the study conducted in the USBC testing center, Greendale, Wis., which includes eight lanes in a climate-controlled building. USBC's robotic ball thrower, nicknamed “Harry,” was used to roll the test balls. The data was measured using “Super C.A.T.S.” (computer aided tracking system) to record the velocity of the bowling balls as they were rolled down the lane. The system is made up of 23 small electronic sensors installed on the lanes.

USBC is launching a reevaluation of all components of the “System of Bowling,” which includes lane surfaces and conditions, bowling balls, and pins. USBC also has formed task forces to deal with issues and standardization of lane surfaces and lane conditioners/cleaners. For more information, visit

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