Bowling balls appear deceptively simple. In reality there is much more to them than being heavy spheres with holes drilled in them. Bowling balls are engineered to perform on different types of surfaces. There are bowling balls to suit the strength and style of any bowler. Since bowling balls are so heavy, the wooden lanes that people bowl on are treated every day with mineral oil to protect them.
Even though there are many types of bowling balls, each has a circumference of between 27.002 and 27.704 inches. The weight of bowling balls can vary greatly, however and can be anywhere from 6 to 16 pounds.
The weight of a bowling ball comes from its two main components; the coverstock and the core. The coverstock is used to make the outside of the bowling ball and can be made from polyester, resin, particle, and urethane. The coverstock of the bowling ball is what determines how it will roll. As a general rule, the harder the coverstock, the more straight the ball will roll down the lane. Polyester bowling balls are recommended for beginners for their tendency to roll straight. Urethane is considered better for pros because it allows for a great hook ball and high performance bowling.
The core of the bowling ball is the heaviest and has the most mass. The type of roll one gets depends largely on the position of the core within the coverstock. If it is the center, the bowler will likely have a faster, straighter ball.
There are three holes in each bowling ball. Two of them are placed side by side for the middle and ring fingers and one below for the thumb. While many people put their whole fingers in those holes while bowling, an alternative method is to just use the fingertips. This may cause the bowler to have less of a grip, but they will be able to get a better hook and to lift the ball more efficiently.
Less commonly known is that many balls have a fourth hole, not for a finger, but to increase the precision of the bowling ball. There are a total of twelve holes permitted in each ball. One for each finger on each hand, for a total of ten, a “balance” hole and a hole to test the hardness of the ball underneath the ball’s coverstock.
Bowling balls made of polyester have been around since the 1960s. They are most suited for dry lanes. Polyester bowling balls tend to go very straight down the lane and to skid some while doing it.
The 1970s saw the advent of urethane coverstocks. Bowling balls with urethane coverstocks are softer than their polyester counterparts. This material hooks more easily because it produces more friction on its way down the lane.
Resin bowling balls were developed in the 1990s, when the first resin was added to the already present urethane coverstocks, making them the strongest of bowling balls. Resin balls are best used by more advanced bowlers, because of their sharp hooks and great power. They can also be used in any lane condition.
Resin bowling balls evolved to particle balls with the addition of ceramics and glass. Particle bowling balls have more texture, which gives the balls more grip in the oil on the lanes and increases friction.
Knowing which bowling ball you are using and why is very important in the game of bowling. The type of ball you use can vary based on your size, strength and bowling skill level. For more help picking out a bowling ball, the local alley or a bowling shop should have the answers you need.