Bowling balls are arguably the most iconic piece of equipment used in the game. Beyond the simple looking exterior is a complex tool that has changed throughout the years. Bowling balls come in many different colors, sizes, weights, and materials. There is a lot to learn about this essential piece of equipment.
What are bowling balls used for?
Bowling balls are the most important piece of equipment that is used by every bowler. They are hard, spherical and usually pretty heavy. They feature three holes on the side of the ball, meant for a middle finger, ring finger, and thumb. Bowling balls typically range from 6 lbs. to 16 lbs. They also come in different sizes based on the size of a bowler's hands and their preferences. Bowling balls serve one function, and that is for the bowler to roll the ball down the lane trying to hit a set of pins, knocking down as many as possible. Bowling balls can even be spun to achieve different shot styles.
Things To Consider
When looking for a bowling ball, you'll want to consider the following:
- What size bowling ball do you need?
- Do you want a two-piece or three-piece ball?
- How much do you want to spend on a bowling ball?
- What skill level of bowler are you?
Bowling balls can either come as a two-piece or three-piece ball.
Two-piece bowling balls have traditionally been made with a central core or weight block with the coverstock making up the rest of the balls. As time has progressed, much of the overstock has been replaced with an outer core in order to fill in the ball with a cheaper material with similar results. These balls tend to produce better spin and control.
Three-piece balls have stayed relatively the same over time in terms of construction. The majority of their inside is filled with basic filler material. Where the finger holes are placed, there is a small weight block inside to make up for the lost material. The entire ball is covered with a thin layer of coverstock. Due to their relatively basic core, these balls tend to spin less.
The three main materials that bowling balls are made from include polyester, reactive resin, and urethane. These materials make up the coverstock of a ball. Graphite and iron are materials that typically make up the inner core.
- Polyester: Polyester is a type of plastic that many beginners use for their bowling balls. It has the least amount of friction, making it good for straight shots. Polyester is also commonly mixed with resin to produce a hard filler material between the core and coverstock.
- Reactive Resin: Reactive resin balls have the most friction and therefore hook the most. They can be difficult to control and are the least durable.
- Urethane: Urethane is more durable than plastic and has more friction. This ball is best for intermediate bowlers as it hooks more than plastic balls but is not too difficult to control.
- Graphite: Graphite is a heavy form of carbon that is traditionally used in bowling ball cores. Graphite is usually combined with other materials such as ceramic and resin in the core.
- Iron: Iron is another popular choice for making the inner cores of bowling balls. Like graphite, it is mixed with resin for hardening purposes.
The most popular bowling ball manufacturers are Brunswick, Ebonite International, and Storm.
- Brunswick: Brunswick is a company that exclusively produces bowling equipment and apparel. They are one of the oldest and most famous bowling brands, and create almost any type of bowling ball imaginable.
- Ebonite International: Ebonite is another brand that solely focuses on bowling products. They also make a wide variety of balls, but also tend to be less expensive than other brands.
- Storm: While not as old as the other two brands, Storm has become arguably the biggest bowling ball manufacturer today. Their products are high quality and they offer a wide variety of balls.
When considering which bowling ball you want to buy, always consider the durability, cost, and different sizes.
The durability of a bowling ball will ultimately depend on how it is maintained. However, with proper maintenance, the typical lifespan of a bowling ball is around 5-10 years. Different materials will also have an effect on lifespan, with urethane lasting the longest and reactive resin the shortest.
The cost of the bowling ball mainly depends mainly on the materials. Plastic balls tend to range from $40 to $60 with some costing upwards of $100. Urethane balls will likely cost from $75 to $150. The most expensive balls, reactive resin, can be found for around $150 to $250.
Not only do bowling balls come in different sizes but different weights as well. They typically range from 6 lbs. To 16 lbs. and even can have different size finger holes based on hand size. They come in youth as well as adult sizes. Most manufacturers will have different sizes based on different measurements, so it is best to see if there is a size chart to best fit your exact preferences.
Are heavier bowling balls better than lighter balls?
Heavier bowling balls are not necessarily always better than lighter balls. While heavier bowling balls will typically produce more power when striking the pins, some balls may be too heavy for the user. It is always best to use the heaviest ball that you can consistently bowl while also producing the most speed.
How do you know if your bowling ball is too heavy?
One way to know if your bowling ball is too heavy is if you feel sore or injured after a bowling session. Keeping your health in tact is most important, and if a certain size ball is constantly hurting your arm it is best to go lower. If the speed of your ball decreases throughout the session or isn't where you want it to be, the ball is likely too heavy.
What type of bowling ball is best for beginners?
For beginners, the best type of balls to use are three-piece balls and one's made out of plastic. Both three-piece and plastic balls are made to roll straighter and without the potential to hook. This makes it easier for beginners to get used to hitting their target and have a consistent roll.