How To Choose The Perfect Bowling Ball For You
Bowling is a sport that is relaxing, fun and inexpensive way to hang out with the people closes to you. Compared to other sports, you don't really need any equipment to play and this is what adds to the relaxing aspect of bowling. But what if I told you that your game is lacking because of bowling balls.
You'd laugh at me first, but people should not skip over the large amount of impact that a bowling ball can bring to a game. This is why if you're really getting into the game of bowling, the perfect bowling ball is one of the first equipment's you must add to your arsenal. Here is how to choose the perfect bowling ball.
What Bowling Ball At The Alley Should You Choose?
It's most likely that when you're first starting out that you won't have a personal bowling ball. In this case you have no choice, you're going to have to rely on the bowling balls provided by the alley and these are referred to as "House Balls". But exactly what house ball is the right one for you?
It's hard to know which ball specifications is suited for your playstyle, but the beauty of the house balls is that there are plenty to choose from. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what ball is right for you but this may take a few games to figure out, and I did this myself during the first few sessions. A useful tip is to keep a mental note of the scores versus the ball that you use, as you'll find yourself switching between balls you label as 'the right one'. Colourways and labels can help you distinguish between balls. Also make sure to follow the obvious advice of checking the condition of the ball - Is it dirty? Are there any chips or dents?
Playing with the alley provided balls may be a wise first step before you buy your own ball, as you'll be given a rough idea of what bowling ball might be perfect for you.
Why Is It Important To Purchase Your Own Ball?
There are many reasons why owning your own personal bowling ball that are important. These are just some:
1) It Allows You To Play Better
Control is key. With a bowling ball made to fit your hand, you'll find that you have a better, firmer grip which increases the control of the shot. Moreover, you can choose what core shape of the bowling ball you want. The core shape should fit your playstyle which means you have a ball tailor made for your style and technique, leading to a better performance.
2) It's More Sanitary
Imagine the number of people who bowl and potentially used the very same house ball you're using; the same people who just went to the toilet and back to play! We can all agree this has the potential to be harmful, as well as being straight up disgusting. Owning your own bowling ball means you don't have to concern yourself with germs, potential illness and diseases. Just a disclaimer, the chances of catching some disease with house balls are extremely low, but its better to be safe than sorry!
3) It Can Reduce The Chance Of Injuries
Bowling Balls with holes that aren't fitted to your hand can potentially injure your fingers and thumbs. Improper pitch angles and improper hole sizing can really mess up your form and technique. By having a bowling ball that fits your personal specifications, you don't have to force your shots which greatly reduces the chances of getting wrist, shoulder and elbow injuries.
4) It's Convenient
Having your own bowling ball makes everything so much easier. Firstly, you don't have to pick and test out which ball the alley provides is the optimal one for you. You can just start a game, take out your ball, and start bowling. Also, you can avoid potential disputes with your friends about using the same house ball, this happened to me a lot in my beginning stages!
What Bowling Ball Type Should I Get (Coverstock)?
There are two main types of bowling balls to choose from - straight or hooked.
If you're a bowler that tends to bowl straight, aiming at the 1st pin head on, a polyester bowling ball ($50-$100 for a decent polyester bowling ball) may be the best option for you. You don't even have to be a straight throwing bowler, as the polyester ball is perfect for those looking for casual games.
If you're a bowlers who's gameplay revolves around hooking the ball, an entry level performance bowling ball is most likely your best bet. Entry level performance bowling balls have their exterior coated in a with a resin additive to the urethane which provides extra traction to the balls, and are usually the least hooking balls to be used in light oil pattern lanes. These are a perfect choice for beginner bowlers looking to hook a ball and at this stage, don't go overboard and buy the newest and best performance balls; you simply do not need them at this level. I would suggest a pearlized coverstock ball with a core that has a higher RG.
What Cores Should I Use?
While choosing cores for your bowling balls is typically reserved for top level play and something I wouldn't worry about at this stage, it is important to have a basic idea of cores because of the large impact they have on your game.
Here's a brief breakdown of the 3 main types of cores to help you decide the right one:
Pancake cores are most commonly found in beginner polyester bowling balls and are the most ideal for novice bowlers. It's called a pancake core because of the disk-shaped core that is situated in one portion of the ball and this is done to counteract the mass loss of the ball after drilling. Pancake cores give the ball steady momentum, and the bowler a reliable shot. Also, it is easier to control down the lane compared to the other 2 cores while also maintaining a straighter path to the pins.
I'd recommend this type of core for novice or casual bowlers who are looking for bowling balls without any special considerations, is affordable, and is reliable.
The symmetrical core is what most consider a step above the common pancake core. The most common symmetrical core is in the shape of a lightbulb. Symmetrical cores have the ability to allow the ball to build up momentum at different stages during the throw, which allows the bowler to hook easier.
I'd recommend this type of core for bowlers using a hook technique, or bowlers who want to upgrade their play. This core will give players an easier time when deciding how to drill their finger holes, a greater hook potential, and a stronger, more even roll.
The asymmetrical cores are considered a step above the symmetrical cores mostly because you can 'fine-tune' what you want out of your ball. The most common asymmetrical cores are cylindrical with semi-circular ridges along their sides. With this type of core, it is easy to adjust the radius of gyration (High RG means mass is concentrated in the coverstock, Low RG means mass is concentrated in the centre) which allow the bowlers to influence the way the ball spins as it rolls down the lane.
I'd recommend this type of core for the serious bowlers who are looking for a ball who want an aggressive ball reaction, a large hook potential, and a ball that is specifically made for your playstyle.
What Bowling Ball Weight Should I Use?
Once you choose the perfect type of bowling ball, it's time to decide what weight is best for you. Some people suggest bowlers to get a rough idea of what weight is good for you by testing with the house balls. But I found that most house balls are not exact to their weight, and I'd stick to the general rule of thumb is to choose a ball weight that is 10% of your body weight (not exceeding 16lbs or 7.3kg). Optimally, an adult should choose a ball that is greater than 14lbs, 6.4kg, taking advantage of the weight in order get the best possible performance.
For kids, a general rule of thumb is to match the weight in pounds to their age. For example, a 10-year-old kid should get a 10lb bowling ball, but slight adjustments may be made depending on their preferences.
How To Get The Perfect Fit For Your Bowling Ball
In order to get the perfect fit for your bowling ball, you're going to have to decide type of grip you want first. There are 3 main types of grips:
The most common grip used by bowlers, this grip is when you place your thumb all the way into the thumb hole and your middle and index fingers in their respective holes to whatever is comfortable; most cases to the first 2 knuckles.
This grip is for bowlers who have grown in skill or have mastered the conventional grip. It is quite similar to the conventional grip, but the middle and index finger only go in their holes up to the first knuckle.
There exists a rare grip called the semi-fingertip grip, and this grip is a hybrid of the conventional and fingertip grip, which aims to incorporate positive aspects of both grips. This grip happens when you place the middle and index fingers in between the first and second knuckle.
If you decide on the fingertip grip you may be given the option to get inserts. Inserts plug-like accessories that you place into the middle and index finger holes. Inserts are an option of bowlers are looking to get extra lift to turn the ball and are great because they slightly help protect your fingers from wear and tear when you release the ball.
This the final stage towards choosing your perfect bowling ball. As a beginner, your best bet would be to head over to your local bowling pro shop and consult there. The experts will measure your hand and then drill the holes. In some instances, the pro shop owners may ask you to bowl a few balls to gauge your individual style and technique.
Make sure to ask any questions you have regarding the bowling balls, as this will help the owners fill out any necessary information about you.
Standard drilling generally runs less than $50, and prices increase based on the type of grip you decide, with the cheapest being conventional grip drilling and most expensive being fingertip grip drilling with inserts. Drilling may be finished on a couple of hours or a couple of days depending on the amount of customers a pro shop gets.
Choosing the perfect bowling ball may be daunting because of the sheer amount of varieties out there, but I hope this article gives you bowlers some pointers when choosing a bowling ball. The general rule of thumb is to stick to the polyester, pancake core balls as a beginner, then begin to branch out for the urethane, symmetrical core balls as your skill improves.
Buying a bowling ball is an investment, which is why you have to understand as much about them as possible before you make the big purchase. But don't forget, bowling is supposed to be fun, don't take it too seriously!