Better Bowling: Right Here...Eventually

Taking Practicing at Home to a New Level

May 17, 2010

Practicing at home is a good way to keep your skills sharp when you can't get to the bowling center. You can work on your armswing, balance, stance, pushaway and other aspects of your game. It's a simple concept, but my friend Bill Sempsrott, publisher of, has taken it to stratospheric levels.


I've been following this project for more than a year. Bill not only assembled a bowling lane in his basement, he designed a ball return to go with it. The lane doesn't have pins. Instead, it uses sensors to... Well, I think I'll just let him explain it. There's a link following his description, showing him actually bowling on the lane. It's a marvel of engineering and ingenuity, not to mention being pretty cool. 

"There are sensors that measure/compute the launch angle, target ball position, and ball speed. Those are fed into a computer where I have to input the rest of the data (info about the ball, oil pattern, axis rotation, rev rate, etc.). It then does a simulation to figure out where the ball would end up, including a pinfall simulation.

At least as far as variations in trajectory and ball speed go, it's extremely realistic. The only things it doesn't capture are variations in axis rotation, tilt, and rev rate from shot to shot. So, if I really throw one bad at the release and come right up the back of the ball on accident, for example, it won't get captured by the simulation. In the vast majority of cases, this doesn't really come into play, though. I have some old data from about a decade ago where we recorded and analyzed shot-to-shot delivery parameter variation for hundreds of bowlers. Something like 90-95% of the variation in ball path is caused
by variations in trajectory and ball speed, with the remaining ~5-10% being caused by variations in the release-related parameters."


Take a look. 

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