This article presents exact equations of motion for a rotating bowling ball in a form that explicitly separates contributions due to nonequal principal moments of inertia, center-of-mass offset, and friction between the ball and lane. A computer program that solves the equations demonstrates that all of these factors are important for a realistic analysis of bowling. These factors significantly affect how much balls hook, that is, deflect sideways and approach the pins at an oblique angle. Simulations that approximate real bowling conditions indicate that the largest contribution comes from variable friction along the lane, that is, bowling lanes are generally prepared so that lane friction is higher by a factor of 2 or more along the last one-third of the ball’s trajectory. The analysis supports most (but not all) of the guidelines that bowlers have developed for predicting ball performance.
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PAPERS| September 01 2004
What makes bowling balls hook?
Cliff Frohlich; What makes bowling balls hook?. Am. J. Phys. 1 September 2004; 72 (9): 1170–1177. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.1767099
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