How Fast Do Bowling Balls Go?


Did you ever wonder how fast bowling balls go when they’re released down the lane? It’s actually a lot faster than you may think!

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the optimal speed of balls and what different factors influence it. We’ll also discuss some bowler tips on how to throw faster, and increase your bowling ball speeds.

An effective bowling ball speed is approximately 16-17 mph (25-27 kph) when the ball strikes the pins, and roughly 20-21 mph (32-34 kph) when it leaves the hand. The average bowling ball speed is 18 mph (29 kph), according to first hand experience. There is a usual minimal ball speed difference during measurements.

If you’re interested in learning more about bowling ball speed, keep reading!

Speed of Bowling Balls

Bowling balls can travel at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, making them difficult for some bowlers to control. The pins are typically knocked down when the ball reaches a speed of around 18 miles per hour.

Maximum Bob, better known as Robert Smith from PBA, has been once recorded at 34 mph. He’s a bulky guy with a lot of power, but he retired because of persistent back problems. He is the fastest professional ever recorded, but I doubt anyone is able throw 16 pounds of anything faster.

While this may seem slow, it is actually much faster than one might expect. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that the average human has trouble walking at only a 3.1 miles per hour speed.

Speed-of-Bowling-Balls

What is the Ideal Bowling Ball Speed?

Bowling pins are typically knocked down when the bowling ball reaches speeds of around 18 miles per hour. While this may seem slow, the ideal ball speed is actually much faster than one might expect.

In order to achieve the optimal ball speed, you will need to take into account a number of different factors. These include the weight of the ball, how much oil is on the lane, your bowling technique, and more.

What is the Average Speed of a Bowling Ball?

The average bowling ball travels at speeds between 16 and 20 miles per hour. For men, the average speed is slightly higher, while female bowlers tend to have slower ball speed.

Even though there are slight differences in how fast each person throws, these numbers prove that bowling balls are difficult for even professional bowling players to control because of how quickly they move.

How Much Does a Bowling Ball Slow Down?

The speed of a bowling ball decreases by 3 to 3.5 miles per hour from the time it is released until it strikes the pins. There are several variables that influence the ball speed decrease.

The most significant influence is the amount of friction developed between the ball and the lane as it approaches the pins.

The type of bowling ball used also plays a role in how quickly it speeds up or slows down.

Key Factors in Calculating Bowling Ball Speed

Bowling ball speed is a combination of how fast the ball was thrown and how much it slows down from friction due to bowling lane conditions.

In general, the faster a bowler can release the ball, the less it will slow down when in contact with the lane.

Three key factors that influence ball speed are bowling balls surface and composition, oil pattern and bowling ball hooks.

Bowling Balls Surface and Composition

Typically, when the ball is released, the more polished the bowling ball surface, the less it will slow down as less friction is developed with the lane. The opposite is also true.

The smoother a bowling ball’s surface, the faster it can travel, but this does not mean that a ball should be extremely smooth and shiny.

Oil Conditions on the Lane

How much oil is on the lane has a significant influence over how fast bowling balls are thrown.

The more oil there is on the lane, the less friction will develop between it and the ball, causing it to slow down at a slower rate.

Hook Potential of Bowling Ball

The hook potential of a bowling ball determines how much it will turn as it travels down the lane.

The more the ball turns, the more friction it will create with the lane, which will cause it to slow down at a faster rate, but possible having the right entry angle.

A Bowling Ball Speed Chart

A bowling ball speed chart can be found below, based on USBC findings. This chart is based on average speeds and can help you better understand how fast your ball moves.

The two columns contain elapsed time and change of bowling ball speed:

Elapsed Time

Change of Bowling Ball Speed

3.0 seconds

13.9 mph

2.9 seconds

14.4 mph

2.8 seconds

14.9 mph

2.7 seconds

15.4 mph

2.6 seconds

16.0 mph

2.5 seconds

16.7 mph

2.4 seconds

17.4 mph

2.3 seconds

18.1 mph

2.2 seconds

19.0 mph

2.1 seconds

19.9 mph

2.0 seconds

20.8 mph

How Fast Does an Average Person Bowl?

An average person can throw at speeds around 6.5 miles per hour – much slower than the speeds achieved by professional bowlers, but still faster than many would expect. The higher the skill, the faster they can throw.

Tips for Bowling Faster

If you’re looking to throw faster, there are a few things you can do to improve your ball speed.

First, make sure you have a good grip on the ball. You should hold the ball with your fingers and thumb, not your palm.

Second, try to keep your arm loose and relaxed. This will allow you to release the ball more quickly.

How-Fast-Do-Bowling-Balls-Go

Measure Your Own Bowling Ball Speed

Ask a friend or record yourself on a video to get an estimate of how fast you bowl for achieving the right speed.

Most bowling alleys, local bowling centers will let you bring your own ball so that you can experiment with how different surfaces, oil patterns and ball composition changes how it rolls down the lane.

You’ll find that certain balls work better for different lanes or pins conditions.

By comparing your bowling ball speed with the bowling ball speed chart, you can get a better understanding how fast your ball moves, and practice speed control.

If your speed is in the middle range of bowling ball speed in this chart, you have a fairly optimal ball speed.

Armed with this information, you can start to experiment and find the perfect ball for your game.

Closing Thoughts About Bowling Ball Speed

Bowling is a game with many different levels of ball speed, which makes it an interesting sport in general.

The faster the ball rolls, the more revolutions per minute it will make. Faster balls also have a higher potential to knock down pins in one go, which is why you see professional bowlers throwing them so fast!

Looking to improve your ball speed? Make sure you have a good grip on the ball and keep your arm loose and relaxed. You may also want to experiment with different surfaces, oil patterns and ball compositions to find the perfect ball for your game.

So if you need to find a good way to blow off some steam after work, try heading down to your local alley for an evening game!

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