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Best Bowling Balls

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 45 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 178 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best bowling balls

    Last Updated December 2018

    A bowling ball may seem like a pretty straightforward item to shop for: as long as it’s round enough to roll down the lane, it’s probably good enough. But the truth is that if you’re serious about bowling, the right ball can make all the difference in your game. Unfortunately, not all bowling balls are created equal. From the weight to the materials to the grip, each detail plays a key role in how the ball performs once it leaves your hands. It can be tough to make sense of all the options out there, so you could easily wind up feeling frustrated and confused.

    At BestReviews, we’re dedicated to making shopping as uncomplicated as possible. Our recommendations are objective because we purchase our own items to test. We also consult with experts who help us determine what to look for in the items we’re considering to make sure we don’t overlook any details. That allows us to pass along all the key information you need to choose the best products for your home.

    If you’re in the market for a new bowling ball, consider our top five recommendations in the product list above. If you just want some general tips on selecting a bowling ball, our shopping guide can help you choose the perfect option.

    Bowling balls usually have three holes: one each for the thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. Some balls have two holes: one each for the middle finger and ring finger.

    Why buy a bowling ball?

    • Convenience

    Instead of wasting time finding a house ball every time you go bowling, you’ll be ready to play as soon as you hit the alley. And because you’re not worried about finding a good ball, you can focus on the game the whole time.

    • Improvement

    If you own a ball that’s perfect for you, you’ll have more control when you bowl it, which can help improve your game and increase your score.

    • Safety

    A ball of the right weight and with the right grip is less likely to injure your fingers, wrist, elbow, or shoulder.

    • Hygiene

    Hundreds of people use the house balls at bowling alleys, and it’s unlikely that those balls get washed very often. The germs and bacteria could expose you to colds, flu, or other illnesses.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    When it comes to weight, a general rule of thumb is to choose a bowling ball that weighs 10% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, a 12-pound ball should work well for you.

    Bowling ball construction

    • Two-Piece Construction

    Modern bowling balls have an outer shell, called the coverstock, and a large, heavy weight that balances the ball.

    Some center weights are a single symmetrical shape, like a lightbulb, while others feature two or more outer cores and filler material. As a result, some balls with “two-piece” construction are technically composed of more than two pieces.

    • Three-Piece Construction

    Classic bowling balls feature a coverstock, a thin weight block, and a large area of filler. The weight is heavier than the filler material, so the top of the ball is slightly heavier than the bottom, which helps balance the ball.

    EXPERT TIP

    While 16 pounds is the maximum weight for a bowling ball, there is no minimum weight for 10-pin bowling.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Bowling ball features to consider

    Weight

    The first thing to consider when shopping for a bowling ball is what weight will work best for you. You can find bowls that weigh from 6 to 16 pounds. The lighter balls are typically designed for children, and the heaviest are the maximum weight allowed in professional bowling. If you bowl regularly, test a few different weights with house balls at your local alley to get an idea of what weight feels most comfortable for you.

    As a general rule, take the bowler’s age into consideration when choosing the weight of a bowling ball.

    • Child: 6 to 10 pounds.

    • Teenager: 11 to 14 pounds.

    • Adult Woman: 12 to 14 pounds.

    • Senior: 12 to 14 pounds.

    • Adult Man: 15 to 16 pounds.

    Don’t be surprised if it takes a few frames before you feel comfortable with a new bowling ball. For kids under 11, it usually helps to choose a ball weight that corresponds to their age. For example, a 10-year-old child should use a 10-pound bowling ball.

    Coverstock

    A bowling ball’s outer shell, or coverstock, is the most important part of its construction because it has the most effect on the ball’s performance. The three coverstock materials for bowling balls are polyester, urethane, and reactive resin.

    Polyester (or Plastic)

    • Used for beginner bowling balls.

    • Very durable.

    • Extremely hard; not as porous as other materials.

    • Less friction between ball and lane.

    • Less hooking or curving of ball.

    • Usually less expensive than other options.
       

    Urethane

    • Used for beginner to intermediate bowling balls.

    • Lots of friction between ball and lane.

    • Ideal for learning to hook the ball.

    • Easier to angle ball.

    • Not as popular with experienced or professional bowlers.

    • Reasonably priced.
       

    Reactive Resin

    • Used for advanced and professional-grade bowling balls.

    • Most friction between ball and lane.

    • Hooks extremely well.

    • Carries pins more effectively.

    • Three types: reactive solid, reactive pearl, reactive hybrid.

      • Reactive solid moves most evenly.

      • Reactive pearl has added mica to reduce friction; sharper motion as it moves toward back of lane.

      • Reactive hybrid performance falls between solid and pearl.

    • Most expensive option.

    A bowling ball should fit your hand comfortably. There should be some space between your palm and the ball when your fingers are in the holes. If you find that your fingers don’t fit perfectly into a bowling ball’s holes, you can take it to a pro shop. They can measure your hand and drill the ball to fit it exactly.

    Core

    • Pancake

    These cores often have one flat side and one rounded side, though some have a puck-like shape. Pancake cores are often found in balls with polyester coverstocks, though some beginner urethane and reactive resin balls feature them as well. Pancake cores typically don’t offer the best performance.

    • Symmetrical

    These cores have the same shape horizontally and vertically. The center of the core is usually marked on the ball to allow you to take advantage of it. These cores typically offer the most even movement.

    • Asymmetrical

    These cores are heavier in one portion of the core than the other and spin better than other balls. Experienced bowlers prefer asymmetrical cores.

    It’s considered poor bowling etiquette to use someone else’s ball without permission.

    Grip

    A conventional grip is the most common. It allows you to place your thumb all the way into its hole in the ball, while your middle and ring finger fit into their respective holes to the second knuckle. A ball with a conventional grip tends to work best for new bowlers because it allows firmer control over the ball.

    A fingertip grip allows you to place your thumb all the way into its hole in the ball, but your middle and ring finger only fit into their respective holes to the first knuckle. Intermediate and advanced bowlers often prefer a fingertip grip because it provides greater leverage, which makes hooking the ball easier.

    Color

    A bowling ball’s color doesn’t affect its performance; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. Balls are available in a wide range of colors, making it easy to find one that fits your style and personality. While solid-colored balls are available, most bowling balls feature a marbled or swirled design of two or more colors. Choose a ball with a distinctive pattern or color combination and you will always be able to find it easily.

    CAUTION

    If your wrist or shoulder is sore after bowling, it can be a sign that your bowling ball is too heavy.

    Bowling ball prices

    Bowling ball prices vary based on the coverstock material and the weight of the ball. In most case, you can expect to pay between $44 and $225.

    Polyester Balls

    • 6- to 10-pound balls usually range from $44 to $95.

    • 11- to 14-pound balls usually range from $55 to $100.

    • 15- to 16-pound balls usually range from $60 to $110.
       

    Urethane Balls

    • 6- to 10-pound balls usually range from $60 to $100.

    • 11- to 14-pound balls usually range from $68 to $130.

    • 15- to 16-pound balls usually range from $72 to $140.
       

    Reactive Resin Balls

    • 6- to 10-pound balls usually range from $70 to $100.

    • 11- to 14-pound balls usually range from $78 to $215.

    • 15- to 16-pound balls usually range from $85 to $225.

    Purchase a high-quality bag for your bowling ball to protect it and make it easy to carry.

    FAQ

    Q. What type of bowling ball is best for new bowlers?

    A. If you’re just learning to bowl, a ball with a polyester or plastic coverstock is usually the best option. These balls tend to be less expensive, so you don’t have to invest too much when you’re just learning the game. Polyester balls usually offer the widest weight range, too, so you can easily find lighter balls for people of any age who are just starting to bowl.

    Q. What type of bowling ball offers the best hook shot?

    A. If you’re determined to bowl the best hook shot possible, a reactive resin ball is your best bet. The resin offers more friction between the ball and the oil on the lane, so the ball curves into the pins more easily. However, if you’re just learning to hook the ball, urethane can be a good option because it’s less costly and offers a little more control.

    Q. What type of cleaning or maintenance does a bowling ball require?

    A. A bowling ball can pick up oil from the lane, so it’s a good idea to wipe down the ball with a microfiber towel throughout each game. Many serious bowlers wipe their balls before each throw. At home, apply a ball-cleaning spray, and wipe down the ball with a clean towel to keep it from soaking up any oil before you store it.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Bronwyn
      Editor
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      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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