What is your Benchmark Ball?

This is a particularly important part of your arsenal so I wanted to talk about it a little.

So what is a Benchmark?

A standard by which something is evaluated or measured

So it’s the standard. It should be the thing everything else is measured by. That means you should have one ball that all other balls in your arsenal are measured against. The benchmark ball is the one you fully understand.

It’s the ball that you take out to “read” the lanes.
Meaning, by using this ball you should:
Understand the condition; is it heavy, light, where is the oil? Is it dry on the outside?
Know the length of the oil pattern; short, medium, long oil pattern
Which part of the lane is playable; can you play the track? Do you need to play inside?

It’s the ball that you use to decide which ball you will use to start.
Is the benchmark useable? Do you need a stronger ball? Do you need a “weaker” ball? Do you need something dull because the pattern is long? Do you need a shinier ball because the oil pattern is short?

It’s your most versatile piece of equipment.
It should be something you can generally get close to the pocket from many different angles and on many different conditions. Don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean it will always be the ideal ball to use. It should tell you if it will work. It should also tell you which ball in your arsenal will work if the benchmark is not the one which carries the best on that specific shot.

The benchmark ball should be a ball that transitions through the 3 phases – skid, hook, roll – smoothly.
You need to be able to read what’s happening. If the ball is too jerky or too long, it will be very difficult to understand what the lanes are telling you. Theoretically, this could be a medium RG ball with medium differential and probably somewhere around 2000 abralon.

If you only could have one ball, it should be this ball.
If you only could buy one ball, you should have a benchmark ball. That means it wouldn’t be the strongest ball on the market nor the weakest. It would be the one you could read the lanes and get to the pocket most often. Trust me, you will not score 230 every night if you only have one ball! But I make the above statement to emphasize what a benchmark ball should be.

It should be the ball that you build your arsenal around.
In other words, you can add balls above and below the benchmark. Again, it’s important to know that the benchmark needs to be somewhere in the middle, not on any extremes. It should not be so condition specific, that you can not read the lanes properly.

My personal recommendation would generally be that most good benchmark balls are somewhere in the middle price range for most ball manufacturers. That’s because most expensive balls are made to hook a ton. That means they need oil. However, you could also find benchmarks in the low end price range as well because manufacturers put “older” technology that doesn’t cost them R&D dollars in the low end. That means they were medium or higher end equipment from years past.
In a separate post, I will evaluate some different balls for benchmarks.

Remember, your benchmark ball is extremely important to have and understand how to use.

To recap, the benchmark is:

  1. The standard by which all other equipment is measured
  2. It’s the ball that you take out to “read” the lanes.
  3. It’s the ball that you use to decide which ball you will use to start.
  4. It’s the ball that is your most versatile piece of equipment.
  5. It’s the ball that transitions through the 3 phases – skid, hook, roll – smoothly.
  6. If you only could have one ball, it should be this ball.
  7. It should be the ball that you build your arsenal around.
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