Understanding a ball "shelf talker"

This will serve as a basic guide for understanding a "shelf talker". Just like when you go to buy a car, there's always a quick summary of what that car has to offer. A bowling ball is no different! For this, we've selected the newest soon to be released ball from Motiv. The "Forza Redline"


Condition: Refers to the recommended ball usage for the amount of oil volume.

Inner Core: There's 3 core types in bowling balls. Cores are given names by ball manufacturers for identification purposes. They serve no other meaning (Motiv Forza Redline's core is named "Torx"

3-piece Core

  • Used mainly in plastic balls it is made of 3 pieces containing an inner core and a pancake type weight block at the top and the cover stock.

2 piece symmetrical cores

  • Used mainly in higher performance bowling balls will tend to have a smoother and more stable roll to it. It is symmetrical so this means it is even on all sides. It contains an inner core and outer core cover stock.

Asymmetrical cores

  • Used mainly in high performance bowling balls. It is not even on all sides because it is asymmetrical. This type is core is used to fine tune a bowling ball reaction to the bowlers style. This is an advanced technique in bowling where the pro-shop operator matches the bowling ball drilling to the bowlers style. Speed and revolution rate as an example.

Finish: A ball will come at a factory bpx finish, as you see above, the Forza redline is at 5000 Grit laser scan polished. A ball could be polished or dull. This could be done though a variety of methods. A solution could be applied and/or the use of Abralon pads.

  • 180 Abralon pad...this pad produces a highly textured surface for maximum gripping power
  • 360 Abralon pad...slightly less texture producing pad but very good on extremely oiled lane surfaces.
  • 500 Abralon pad...a step closer to a smoother ball finish with sufficient gripping power.
  • 1000 Abralon pad...produces sufficient amount of gripping power on most lane conditions.
  • 2000 Abralon pad....produces a medium grit texture providing good skid with back end bite.
  • 4000 Abralon pad...the finest texture of all pads and extends bowling ball skid length.

Flare: The maximum amount that the axis of a bowling ball can migrate given the construction of the ball provided that the bowler has a maximum power release. 

  • Flare potential can also be used to indicate which balls will be better suited for oily conditions (high flare balls) and which balls will be better suited for dryer lane conditions (low flare balls).
  • The more flare potential a ball has, the higher hook potential.
  • Balls can be drilled to take advantage of the balls flare potential or reduce its effect.
  • The more revolutions you can generate, the more flare you will get.

Backend: The angle or degree of hook at the break point. Back End is not where the ball hooks, but how much it hooks when it hooks.

  • Back end only evaluates the ball’s performance based on the number of boards that it crosses relative to the other balls tested
  • Bowler’s style, level of ability, lane condition, ball surface, and other factors contribute to the actual back end.
  • Does not reflect the sharpness or smoothness of the hook (which is torque potential) 

Length: The distance a ball will go down the lane before it "hooks" in the back end. The scale provides an idea of what you should expect if the ball is thrown correctly and matches the lane conditions.

8-12 Rating

  • "Read" the lane sooner. 
  • Ball is typically finished at a lower surface. (ie 360,500, 1000 grit)

12-15 Rating

  • "Reads" in the middle portion of the lane.
  • Good for most house shots and medium volume sport shots.

15-19+ Rating

  • Will go much further down the lane
  • Best suited for lighter oil volumes.
  • Could benefit slower speed or high rev players to get the ball further down the lane. 


Hook Potential: The potential that a ball will hook if correctly thrown. The rating scale illustrates the possible amount of hook.

35-45 Rating

  • Best suited for lighter oil conditions
  • Slower speed or higher rev players may prefer this on a medium oil condition.                                   

 46-51 Rating

  • Best suited for house shots
  • "center piece" of a ball arsenal.

51-61+ Rating

  • Greatest hook potential 
  • Designed for heavier oil conditions
  • Higher speed or lower rev players may benefit.

Radius of Gyration (RG): Assigned numbers (See below) These numbers describe the distribution of mass in the given bowling ball .

  • Low RG: 2.460" - 2.570"
    • Low RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the center (center heavy) which promotes an earlier roll through the front part of the lane. 
  • Med. RG: 2.570" - 2.680"
    • Medium RG describes sufficient bowling ball skid length to reach the mid-lane before transitioning into the hook phase of overall motio
  • High RG: 2.680" - 2.800" 
    • High RG numbers indicate that the ball's mass is distributed more towards the cover (cover heavy) which promotes length through the front end of the bowling lane

Differential of RG: Difference between the maximum and minimum Radius of Gyration (RG). Scaled from 0.01- 0.08.                 RG-Differential indicates the bowling ball's track flare potential.

  • Low Diff.-RG: .01 - .02 (low flare potential)
    •  lower the flare potential, the ball will yield more of a smooth arc motion on the back end of the lane.
  • Med. Diff.-RG: .021 - .04 (med flare Potential)
  • High Diff.-RG: .041 - .08 (high flare potential) 
    •  Higher the number, the greater the track flare potential and the more angular motion the ball will produce from the break point to the pocket

Intermediate Differential (Mass Bias): difference in RG between the Y (high RG) and Z (intermediate RG) axes on a bowling ball. 

  • Range in inches from 0.008" - .037."
  • Low Int. Diff. .008 - .020
    •  Lower the asymmetry of a given bowling ball.  
  • High Int. Diff. .021 - .037
    •  Greater the bowling ball asymmetry
  • Greater the asymmetry, the more area is created at the break point and the ball will respond to friction faster than will symmetrical balls.