This ball is known for its top-notch performance in all types of lane conditions. Hooks easily, and delivers good drive all the way through the pins. Suitable for mid-level bowlers looking to up his or her game; or for the competitive bowler who needs a reliable ball.
Rare reports of chips occurring after regular use. Amateurs will likely find it has a bit of a learning curve to master control.
Made with the help of PBA champion Jason Belmonte to deliver fast-revving performance. Dual Drive core construction. Produces excellent drive with the right technique.
Not the best choice for novices, as the ball's powerful movements may be difficult for new bowlers to control. Doesn't perform very well on dry lanes. Pricey.
A good-looking ball from one of the top names in the industry. Earns praise for being easy to control. Good choice for entry-and mid-level bowlers. Makes a great spare ball or straight ball. Comes in a wide array of sizes and colors.
A few bowlers report cracks after bowling several games. Not ideal for anyone who prefers a ball that produces a hard hook.
2-piece Nitrous core. Reasonably priced ball. Capable of impressive hook and back-end performance that's suitable for almost any bowler's skill level or technique style. Grips nicely on dry to medium-oiled lanes.
Doesn't perform well on heavily oiled lanes. Can be challenging for novices to use for picking up spares.
An entry-level ball suited for straight bowling. Those new to the sport rave about how good it looks and how effective it is for learning the fundamentals of the game. Available in many sizes and colors.
Not up to the performance level of competitive bowlers, unless it's used for picking up spares.
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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.
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.
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.
A ball of the right weight and with the right grip is less likely to injure your fingers, wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While 16 pounds is the maximum weight for a bowling ball, there is no minimum weight for 10-pin bowling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your wrist or shoulder is sore after bowling, it can be a sign that your bowling ball is too heavy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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