Believe it or not, there is nothing universal in the bowling world. In fact, some bowling enthusiasts might not even know the different types of bowling balls that exist today.
Picking the right ball can tremendously improve the score and consistency. However, it can be a struggle for beginners to find the right one as there is no single parameter that distinguishes one type of ball from the others.
Give this article a read to learn all about various types of bowling balls and find which one will work for your game.
Every one of four people is into bowling. However, not every ball is suitable for all situations in a game. Therefore, we have categorized the types of bowling balls based on different parameters to give you a thorough insight into this essential equipment of the game.
Use of Bowling Balls
Bowling is fun and requires you to maintain a proper balance to ace the game. Bowling balls are designed for people of different ages and use. Depending on the use, the four major types of bowling balls are:
Kids’ Bowling Balls
Rolling a ball can be very exciting, especially for kids. This activity is not only a source of amusement, but it also provides avenues for exercise. There are a number of bowling balls available for kids varying in designs, weight, and set of holes.
The weight of a bowling ball is crucial in the game, and it generally ranges from 2.5kg to 7.2kg. It is better to get your kid the lightest one at the beginning for practice. A light ball is relatively easier to handle, thereby preventing the chances of accidental drops. You can gradually increase the weight later as per the handling ability of the kid.
Since most kids’ bowling balls do not come with holes, it is better to visit a professional bowling shop and have them drilled according to the measurements of your kid’s hand.
Most kids’ bowling balls come with trendy and explosive patterns. These vibrant designs and colors prove helpful in keeping the children interested in the game. These balls are also easy to use, so kids can practice different techniques and movements.
House Bowling Balls
House bowling balls can be your ticket for fun at lanes as they are freely available for use for open bowlers. All you need to do is get your rental bowling shoes and head towards the rack for the balls. This type of bowling ball is available in different weights, ranging from 6-16 lbs. Most modern house bowling balls are made using polyester to ensure durability.
This broad variation in weight makes them useful for both adults and kids. Similarly, the balls have a range of sizes for gripping holes in order to accommodate hands of different shapes and sizes. Try to go for a ball that feels good in your hand.
When it comes to the design, house bowling balls feature beautiful patterns and designs to make them look attractive. This feature proves a role in the selection of balls, especially for recreational bowlers.
These balls are relatively more uniform internally as compared to professional ones to offer a balanced experience for bowlers. If you are new to this game, it’s better to use house balls rather than getting your own equipment. Develop your interest in the game by using free house balls, and then invest in your own ball if you intend to participate in gaming sessions on a regular basis.
Professional Bowling Balls
Professional bowling balls, as the name suggests, are useful for professional games. These are, by far, the highest-quality bowling balls on the market, and for this reason, they tend to fall on the higher end of the cost spectrum.
This type of ball is suitable for professional bowlers with advanced skills. The balls generally feature reactive resin or particle cover stock. Moreover, they can react to varying lane oil densities seamlessly by providing high traction.
The impeccable combination of reactive cover stocks and high-end core technologies also offers the possibility for powerful pin reactions. Thanks to their excellent oil absorption ability, professional bowling balls don’t skid in oily lane situations.
The weight of such balls generally ranges from 12 to 16 lbs. The holes are usually not pre-drilled, and you have to get them done yourself in a pro-shop for the right grip.
Appealing aesthetics and unique designs make you want these professional bowling balls even more. In fact, this feature also gives the bowler a psychological advantage in the alley even before starting the actual game.
USBC Approved (United States Bowling Congress)
Bowling is quite popular in the States, and people take it quite seriously. For this reason, the United States Bowling Congress has established some ground rules for bowling balls.
USBC-approved bowling balls are made while keeping certain physical requirements in view. They weigh no more than 16 lbs and feature a diameter ranging from 8.500 inches to 8.595 inches. Some other factors include surface roughness, surface hardness, as well as hole drilling limitations. Moreover, the weight holes are banned in approved balls for the prevention of consequences like changing ball dynamics.
For a casual observer, a bowling ball is merely a sphere. However, in reality, bowling balls are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The types of bowling balls based on their cores include:
A pancake core got its name for its shape since it resembles “pancakes,” “puddles,” or “pucks.” It is the most conventional type of core and is covered with mostly plastic cover stock. Since the puddle-type core is stuffed with a filler material, it tends to increase the weight of the balls. Such cores are generally found in entry-level bowling balls made of polyester and urethane. The balls containing such cores are referred to as low-performance bowling balls.
Whether they are shaped like pancakes or small pucks, the performance level of all cores is almost similar. They embody low RG differential and higher RGs, which is why they offer less flare and hook potential when compared to other types. However, they ensure better control and stability as compared to symmetrical cores.
The balls containing such a core lack any space between the low RG axis and the center of gravity marker and, therefore, are known as the “pin-in” balls in the industry. The layout strategies for such balls are relatively limited.
These cores are considered to be bigger than others. While the added weight makes it a bit difficult to handle the ball, at the same time, it is beneficial in lowering the flare potential. Moreover, pancake cores are generally considered as a further type of symmetrical cores due to the weight distribution resemblance.
The symmetrical core is relatively a more advanced core technology. While most people think that pancake core and symmetrical core are similar, professional bowlers and pro-shop operators beg to differ. A ball holding the symmetrical core has equal weight on both sides, and therefore, is known as the symmetrical core ball.
Such balls mainly stand out from the other types of balls for their low to intermediate differential potential. Such balls provide decent flare potential with a much low breakpoint hook potential.
There are further two types of symmetrical core based on the geometries they possess: axisymmetric geometry and non-axisymmetric geometry. While a core with axisymmetric geometry can be easily made by revolving a 2D profile about a central axis, the non-axisymmetric symmetrical core is relatively much more complicated.
One of the most prominent plus points of symmetrical cores is they tend to provide very smooth arc movements as compared to their asymmetrical counterparts. The convenient arc movements prove really helpful for players who like to throw the ball at a slow speed. Moreover, balls having a symmetrical core roll very well on drier lanes, making them suitable for such conditions.
Thanks to the equal weight distribution and better rolling ability, symmetrical balls are a good option for amateurs lacking control over hooks. When it comes to the pin impact, the symmetric core offers satisfactory performance.
Considering the different game styles, crankers generally avoid such balls because of their low aggression, while strokers find them useful for a more traditional bowling game. Similarly, the better stability, predictability, and control make these symmetric balls a go-to choice for beginners.
The major difference between symmetrical core and asymmetrical core is the number of distinct principal mass moments of inertia. While the former has only two distinct principal mass moments of inertia, the latter has three.
In bowling terminology, balls having asymmetrical cores have unequal distribution of weight. These cores are equipped with both a differential as well as a high intermediate differential. This type of cores comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Similarly, balls containing them vary in their RGs, differentials, and intermediate differentials. Depending on the geometry, the core can be simple or complex.
The general perception about asymmetrical cores is that they are capable of producing better angular movements as compared to their symmetrical counterparts. However, they do not work well on straight tracks.
These types of bowling balls are quite popular among players for producing extreme flare potential and less response time. They respond very fast, and there is noticeable breakpoint friction. Moreover, these balls are an excellent choice for those who want to purchase a ball that is very high on revolution.
Being quite aggressive, a ball with an asymmetrical core proves highly suitable for almost all types of lane conditions. You can also find various types of asymmetric balls depending on the cover stock materials. In recent years, different asymmetric bowling balls are designed that are specific to the type of lanes they are used on, thereby improving the gaming experience of the bowler.
Holes on the Balls
Another parameter that is used to classify bowling balls is the holes on them. Depending on the holes, bowling balls have the following major types:
The most conventional types of bowling balls have pre-drilled holes. These pre-drilled balls come with a varying number of holes on their surfaces, depending on the type and weight of the balls. Generally, the number of holes ranges from 2-12. This number varies according to the needs and preferences of the game.
Additionally, these holes are even named as per their usage. They might include insert holes, balance holes, and gripping holes. The insert holes are round-shaped tubes made from urethane and allow the bowler to fit the gripping fingers. Contrary to this, the balance hole does not provide any gripping functionality but is instead used to keep the static weight of the balls as per standard requirements. Lastly, the gripping holes accommodate both the fingers and thumbs of users to provide a better grip during bowling.
Since pre-drilled balls are a talk of the past now, the bowling industry has now shifted to intact balls. As the name suggests, intact balls lack pre-drilled holes and, therefore, have their surfaces intact. While there is no major difference in functionality between a pre-drilled ball and an intact ball, the latter provides more control and utility to an individual.
After you get yourself a new intact ball, you have to get the holes drilled from a pro-shop. The best thing about such balls is that you have the choice to get them drilled according to your preference. The holes can be drilled according to your hand’s measurement, and therefore, you can enjoy a custom fit.
Not only is the custom fit super trendy these days, but it also makes the ball exclusive for you. The holes drilled according to your hand size and shape offer a better grip and control over the ball during the game.
While dealing with bowling balls, there is another factor that requires consideration: the weight block present inside the bowling ball beneath the cover stock. There are two types of weight blocks: low mass and high mass that are parameters for the classification of the bowling balls. Let’s discuss them one by one.
A high mass block is basically shaped like a pancake, and the balls containing such weight blocks are known as high mass bowling balls. When it comes to the placement, a pancake-shaped weight block is placed near the shell (cover stock) of the bowling ball.
This type of ball is beneficial in multiple ways. Since the high mass weight block prevents the ball from getting into heavy rolling, it promotes a lot of length down the lane. This helps in improving the game for bowlers.
Low mass weight blocks come in different shapes, sizes, and densities to meet certain preferences. This type of weight block is placed in the center of bowling balls, which allows even weight distribution across the balls. Balls with low mass weight blocks are referred to as low mass bowling balls.
When it comes to performance, low mass bowling balls provide tremendous hook potential. Moreover, these balls offer heavy rolling on the lanes. This feature makes them immensely popular among players looking for a ball that goes well on various lane conditions effortlessly.
The cover stock or shell is the outermost part of the bowling balls. The materials used in the construction of the cover stock play a key role in distinguishing different types of bowling balls. While the cover stock material alters the durability, strength, and control of the ball, it is also influential on the bowler’s performance.
Similarly, the material also determines the performance of the balls on different lane conditions by influencing the friction between the ball and the lane surface. In short, the type of material used in the cover stock determines how the ball performs and reacts on the lane.
Bowling balls are generally made from four different types of materials: plastic or polyester, urethane or polyurethane, reactive resin, and proactive or particle.
One of the most commonly used cover stock materials is polyester or plastic. A cover stock made from plastic has a very smooth surface and provides enough friction. The reason for plastic’s popularity is its relatively lower price as compared to other expensive materials. Plus, since these balls are relatively easier to handle, they are a great choice for beginners who desire to have their own equipment without investing a fortune. While they are also a good option for intermediate to advanced players, they tend to avoid using them due to their low hooking potential. When it comes to durability, they are hard and tend to last long.
Another material used in the construction of bowling balls is urethane. It is better than plastic in many ways. It is not only way more durable, but it also features a superior hooking potential. The material also offers higher friction between the ball and surface, and the excellent pin action makes it quite popular among seasoned players. Owing to the excellent performance and increased shelf life, urethane balls are relatively expensive, but they are worth the investment.
If friction and hook potential are your priorities, then you must get your hands on a ball made from reactive resin. These balls offer maximum friction and are extremely versatile. They are highly used by professionals to improve gaming as they offer great control. While such balls come with an expensive price tag, they can be a great investment in the long run. You can literally use these balls on any kind of lane conditions. Though the material is not as durable as plastic and urethane, it serves the purpose exceptionally.
The next material used in the cover stock of the ball is particle or proactive. Since this type of ball is mainly used by advanced players and experts, most seasoned players are not acquainted with it. The reason why these are not suitable for amateurs is the irregular surface and the advanced training required for their handling. The textured surface makes them capable of tackling oily lane conditions and also increases the friction to improve the overall performance during the game.
The market is currently flooding with various types of bowling balls. The difference in features can make the purchase a daunting task for some of you. Therefore, picking the best bowling balls require you to think with an open mind in order to avoid any regret in the future. The right way to make the decision is by setting your priorities and requirements straight and then choosing a bowling ball. Hopefully, this article has provided you a fair idea about different types of bowling balls. Make sure to go for a ball that is versatile and suits your bowling needs well.