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Bowlers Journal International
So, what’s all the buzz about this new measuring/drilling technique called Tri-Grip from past PBA ball driller Bill Hall? I’ll share my thoughts and trepidation about my experience using it these past few months. Be advised: no elements of how-to-measure the Tri Grip system will be released in this article. I do this out of respect to Bill Hall and his trademark protection. I will say however that the system utilizes both offsets and different pitch parameters not commonly used.
I first heard about this system about a year or so ago on Facebook and the internet. Since I’m naturally somewhat skeptical about new fitting or drilling techniques, I kind of blew it off thinking “Let’s give it some time”. Well, after about a year passed, I decided to investigate it further and give it a try. I decided this after reading positive after positive posts about the benefits and advantages it offers over the typical T-grip drilling method. Most of the positive posts spoke about the “better” feel and “release” it potentially offers. At this point I still remained cautious as we all know there are few quick fixes in this game we all so dearly love. Plus there is likely no “one-size fits all” measuring system either!
After purchasing the Tri Grip system, from Bill Hall’s web site for $200, I decided to do extensive testing with the help of my expansive customer base. I offered free plugging and drilling to the first 25 customers who were interested in trying Tri Grip. After the first 25 players came through the door, I also added an additional 30 to 35 customers who paid to try this system. I made certain to have a wide variety of player styles to help assess this system: strokers, tweeners, power players, high and low axis tilt, high and low axis rotation, younger and older, right and left handers and low medium and higher average ranges, whew!
After weeks of customer and personal testing, I began tabulating all the responses as well as viewing video of individual release styles. The results were astonishing, over 90% of the testers reported positive results! Comments were made such as: “it reduced my grip pressure, it helped me stay behind the ball better, it allowed me to position my hand more naturally, it increased my rev rate, it helped me execute more consistently and cleaner at release point and more”. On a personal note I felt it has helped me release the ball with little to no grab at release. And we all know how important that is! The few who didn’t care for the feel expressed: “it had little effect, it caused me to release it too fast or it didn’t feel any better in my hand.”
Other notable converts to the Tri Grip system are Jeff Richgels, 5 time USBC champion and USBC singles champ Ron Vokes. Jeff Richgels said “After some trial and error with pitches, the Tri-Grip has given me a great feeling fit that allows me to get under and behind the ball better than I have in years. While I haven't had any extended competition like a PBA50 Tour stop to truly test the Tri-Grip's impact on my endurance, I am cautiously optimistic that it will lessen the stress on my creaky 3-operation wrist and allow me to bowl with less stiffness and pain in extended competitions. I now have several balls with the Tri-Grip and if all goes well I will be switching my arsenal over when I get time -- hopefully by the end of the year.” Ron Vokes said “My rev rate increased big time. I also was able to stay behind the ball better and exit the thumb cleaner. My son, CJ also loves it and it has helped him from topping the ball at release point”.
Now as stated earlier, there is no “one-size fits all” measuring system. I have made many tweaks to the system for each individual player. Even Bill Hall states “Players may need to make some adjustments as necessary for the perfect fit. Communication with your ball driller is essential.” But the basis and concept for the Tri Grip is sound and offers many benefits. Bill’s Tri Grip video can be purchased at www.billhallbowling.com
The Bowlers Journal International ball testing of all the new releases definitely affords us an advantage in understanding ALL the new balls much better than simply relying on the manufacturers information or testing just a few as is common with most pro shops. We test on both wood and synthetic on a medium and heavy volume to better comprehend the personality of a given ball. All balls have strengths and weaknesses.
One of my jobs is to determine these attributes as accurately as possible. It is a constant learning process and each month our understanding improves. Response time is a very important element of understanding ball motion. Almost all balls go reasonably straight in oil. They do differ in how quickly and aggressively they respond to friction (the breakpoint). This quickness or aggressiveness is essential in creating the proper entry angle for a given lane condition.
There are lane conditions less reaction is better in matching up and holding pocket. Other times more response and angularity is needed to create improved pin carry. Stop in and let Joey or Dennis help you better understand these variances.
Click on the bowling ball to VISIT the Bowlers Journal International website.
When “Less is More” …………..
Have you ever been fooled when switching to a different bowling ball and you see a ball reaction you weren’t expecting or hoping for? Well, don’t feel like the lone ranger (sorry young uns), we all have experienced this at one time or another! The key question here is: why were we fooled? Do we really have such a misunderstanding of ball motion from our arsenal of balls? Let’s dig a little deeper and see what turns up.
A prime example of this is when your current dull bowling ball you started the session with begins hooking too early and not hitting as well as it did earlier. Let’s also assume we tried an adjustment with our feet and target which didn’t quite work as hoped. Our natural reaction would be to switch to a lesser hooking, polished reactive resin. Yet, when we make this supposedly fool-proof switch, what if we don’t get the results we had hoped. In other words, what if the polished mid priced dry lane ball actually hooks even stronger than the premium priced dull reactive! How can this occur?
To better understand this perplexing phenomenon, we need to understand a ball’s individual surface characteristics. This means the surface type, surface strength and surface prep. We also need to understand the dynamics of different ball layouts, but we’ll save that for another article.
I’ll begin by explaining the surface characteristics of the modern day reactive resin bowling ball. Most dull surfaced premium solid reactives are designed to create added friction in the oil, while bowling on medium to heavier oil concentrations. These oil-munchers provide adequate traction in oil which reduces skid or over sensitivity to the oil in a particular pattern. The tradeoff will often result in a slower reaction off friction (dry boards), which can likely reduce the angle of entry into the pocket. This is why many of these super hookers can react too early and lose their hitting power as the oil in the midlane dissipates. This is a prime example of when too strong a ball will bail downlane and actually hit weaker and hook less in the final twenty feet of the lane.
Here’s where the ball-choice confusion can begin for many players. When switching to a weaker cover ball (which can also have weaker cores), we will see easier length in the oil due to its reduced traction and dynamics. What we don’t see, is the ball and core’s ability to retain its axis rotation longer, which helps create a quicker and more responsive move off the drier boards in the late midlane and final twenty feet. So even though we’ve switched to a weaker ball, we have also helped the ball store more rotational energy. This energy storage is then unleashed upon encountering friction, which is why we can see more downlane hook than with our stronger/duller ball! Thus if there is a sufficient friction downlane, we could actually see more total hook than with our dull super-hooker!
Another way to better understand a ball’s surface traction characteristics is to compare it to that of a car’s tires. Suppose you’re asked what type of tire creates maximum traction? Many will answer, “A snow tire or studded tire”. While this answer may be true on ice or in snow, it most certainly is not true on a clean and dry road surface. On this environment, a racing slick will generally provide maximum traction, proving why Indy-type cars run with slicks on all four tires. Less is More, when it comes to a smooth non tread tires has more traction than can a studded snow tire. The smooth surface design of a racing slick provides the most surface contact on dry surfaces, similarly to how a smooth highly polished reactive resin can provide a quick and decisive reaction off dry boards. Where as, this polished surface will slide like a monkey on a banana peel when in oil. This is similar to a smooth surface slick’s lack of traction in snow or on ice.
Now let’s compare the traction of a sanded dull reactive resin with that of a studded snow tire. Here the ball will have lots of traction in oil (snow or ice) with lesser traction on drier boards (clean and dry pavement). This is why Indy cars do not run studded and deep treaded tires when racing on dry surfaces. They do however switch to tires with sipes, when running on wet surfaces. These sipes are tiny little slits incorporated in the tire’s surface to help squeegee the water and improve its grip on wet and braking traction. We could lightly associate a gentle scotch-bright scuffing to the added traction of these sipes.
In summary, understanding a ball’s friction characteristics in both oil and dry boards is crucial. Some balls react stronger in oil while others will react stronger off friction. We also need to understand how different lane surfaces affect each ball in our arsenal’s personality. Reason being most wood lanes and some overlays create more surface friction than do many synthetic surfaces. Knowing the lane surface, oil pattern shape and length plus oil volume will all contribute to the way a lane plays! The more we know about our environment, the better choices we can make with our ball choices and lane play angles.
The game has become much more complex than the days of rubber, plastic or urethane. Knowledge about lanes and equipment variables is vital to make intelligent decisions. So remember “Less can be more” in this crazy game we all love.
Joe Cerar Jr.