The 4 Types of Ball Motion What That Means and Why It's Important

Posted by Ronald Hickland on

By: Dustin Zehner

The 4 Types of Ball Motion are a way to classify all bowling balls and helps make arsenal building much easier. Each bowling ball has a designed shape of motion directly from the manufacturer.

We can use the following properties to classify bowling balls into specific types of ball motion.

  • Ball Coverstock
  • Ball Finish
  • Ball RG Numbers
  • Core Type
  • Manufacture Intent

When breaking down ball motion, bowling balls can fall into 4 different categories; Traction, Continuous, Angular, and Straight. It is important to have at least one ball from each category in a 6 ball arsenal.

Traction (earliest)

Traction type ball motion is a ball motion that is the earliest. The bowling ball will hook early and be lazy down lane. It is often most advantageous to use this type of bowling ball on a heavy and/or long oil pattern. This type of ball motion will often times exit over the 9-pin (for a right handed player)


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Continuous ball motion is the most common type of ball motion across all bowling balls. This type of ball motion hooks later than Traction type ball motion but not as late as Angular motion. As the name states, when the bowling ball begins to make its move, it will continue through the pins to (ideally) split the 8-9.


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Angular (latest)

Angular ball motion is the latest hooking type of ball motion, and often the most fun to watch. Angular ball motion goes down the lane the longest and makes a sharp move once it gets to the breakpoint. This type of ball motion is often best suited for lanes that have broken down and requires the player to open up the lane.


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Straight ball motion is a ball motion every single player should have in their bag. Straight ball motion should be used when shooting most spares. Some bowlers will use a plastic spare ball to accomplish this while others will flatten their hand at the release using a urethane or reactive bowling ball.

Check out this video for additional information on the 4 types of Ball Motion.

Changing Your Ball Motion With Surface

All bowling balls come out of the factory with the manufacturer's recommended finish. But can you change the surface of your bowling ball from the recommended finish (making a polished ball dull)?

Yes. You can change the surface of any bowling ball and should change the surface

before throwing it to have a repeatable finish. It is not possible to replicate a factory finish on a bowling ball.

Why A Factory Surface is NOT Repeatable on a Bowling Ball

When changing the surface of your new bowling ball, try some different surface other than the factory finish to see where the bowling ball would fit best in your bag. Also, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I have bowling balls with the same ball motion type in my bag?
  • Do I have bowling balls with the same surface in my bag?
  • How can I use my new bowling ball to have the widest variety of ball motion?

When we talk about surface on bowling balls, it is important to remember that surface is the number one factor in changing ball motion. When using TruCut Sanding Pads we have the ability to turn an Angular bowling ball into a Continuous bowling ball by using a 2000 grit TruCut Sanding Pad. We can also change the same Angular ball into a Traction ball by using a 500 grit TruCut Pad. 

This also works the other way around. You can turn a Traction ball into an angular ball, by simply changing the surface with TruCut Sanding Pads and TruCut Hand Applied Polish Powered by Turtle Wax.

Let’s take a look at the two arsenals below. For the typical bowler, which 6 ball arsenal would be best for them to take to a typical league or tournament? 

If you said option 2, you are correct. But why is that the case? Option 1 has very little surface variation between the two ball motions chosen. On paper, this arsenal may be really good on the fresh and the burn, but will not be good during the transition period as all of their bowling balls will either hook very early or hook very late. Option 1 is also missing two types of ball motion, continuous and straight. We can only hope that the player that chooses option 1 has the ability to shoot spares by flattening their hand with reactive.

With option 2, we have a wide variety of surfaces to use during our league or tournament. With this wide variety of surfaces, we have each type of ball motion in our bag to see the biggest ball reaction difference between each piece. With option 2 we have at least one ball from each ball motion category. This example arsenal will give us a good starting point before we hit the lanes. 

You can get all of the TruCut Surface products mentioned in this blog including TruCut Sanding Pads and TruCut Hand Applied Polish on


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