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How to choose the correct ball weight?

Several different methods have been utilized to measure the proper weight bowling ball for each player. A method I used and was taught at an early stage in my pro shop career was to have the person place their arm at their side with their elbow against their body and their forearm at a 90 degree angle to their bicep with the palm up. You then place the undrilled ball in their hand and allow them to balance the ball. If they can hold it and balance it in their palm for a period of at least 5 seconds then the ball weight is fine, but if their hand wavers back and forth and they cannot balance the ball in their palm then the weight is too heavy. This method was usually very successful for many of the people I taught it to as well.


What are the inside and outside of a bowling ball made of?

The coverstocks of bowling ball consist of three basic materials these days. The first would have to be polyester. This is a low friction, durable coverstock generally designed for its aesthetic value. It has the least amount of friction with the lane and is generally utilized for recreational bowling and also for players to use as a spare ball. The second coverstock would be urethane. Urethane is such a rare material these days. It does have a higher surface friction with the lane than polyester and can be utilized on those very short or light volume patterns. Today's higher viscosity oils have seen the disappearance of urethane in general. The third and most popular is reactive urethane. Reactive Urethane creates the greatest amount of friction with lane and gives us the strongest reaction down the lane. It's durability is the least due to the increased amount of porosity and the additives that go into the coverstock. There are both solid and pearl versions of Reactive Urethane. The Solid has the most amount of porosity and creates the highest amount of friction in oil, while the pearl version has a lower porosity and creates greater skid in oil which in turn usually means greater entry angle down the lane due to it's slower loss of kinetic energy. We can also talk about particle coverstock as well. They all still consist of a Reactive base with a percentage of particle added to the coverstock. The particle increases the amount of surface friction with the lane. These particle may consist of glass, ceramic, rubber, and other polymers. Particle coverstocks have the greatest amount of porosity due to the particulate matter.

The core of the bowling balls are made of several different materials depending on what characteristics or reactions we are looking for. Weight blocks are generally made of and Iron Oxide or Bismuth mixture due the high specific gravity of the material which in turns means greater weight mass and heavier weight parts. This in turn lowers the RG and creates earlier read in the lane. The outer wraps are generally made from polyesters. They must be durable yet light to enhance the weight block characteristics and not detract from them.


What is the difference between Polyester and Urethane?

Polyester a is very low friction highly durable polymer in most circumstances. When polyesters were first utilized in bowling it was back when the lane oils were much thinner in viscosity and also we used a tenth of the oil on the lane that we do today and also most lanes were generally made of wood which has a much higher surface friction than synthetic lanes. Upon their inception they did hook to a certain extent, but the biggest quality of polyester is its longevity.

Urethane on the other hand was created form an entirely different polymer chain. It had much more surface friction than polyester and the process to make urethane differs to an extent. It is also a highly durable material and does create more surface friction with the lane than polyester. Upon its inception it was the highest friction material put on a bowling ball and created the most amount of hook, but you have to remember that once again the lane oils used were lower viscosity and also much less in volume by today's standards.


What is Top Weight?

Top weight is the measure of weight from the top of the ball (CG) and the bottom of the ball (opposite the cg). In general their will always be more weight to the top of the ball (CG). This is due to the fact that when you drill finger holes into the ball you are extracting weight from the ball (generally 2 ounces or more depending the hole sizes and the density of the core) and it was initially designed to keep the ball balanced after it was drilled. Balls with lower initial top weight were generally more stable after drilled than those with higher top weights due to the fact that their was so much weight left over after drilling. This created imbalance and often time added length and backend reaction for early three piece (Pancake weight block) bowling balls. Top weight by today's standards is not nearly as important because a majority of the weight mass of most bowling balls is closer to the center of the ball than the shell and top weight has less of an effect because ball motion is more about the placement of the weight block itself and not the static weight mass. Top weight these days usually dictates hole size for those off label drillings.


What is pin position?

Pin position is the distance the top of the weight block or (x-axis) is from the center of gravity (CG). The farther the pin is from the CG the more the weight block is shifted in the bowling ball. In general a pin that is three inches from the cg usually means the weight block is shifted 3/16 of an inch, so really there is not much dynamic difference between a 1 inch pin and a 3 inch pin.


Why are there so many ball choices?

Bowling is the largest participation sport in the world (Millions). This means that there are a multitude of styles and lane conditions along with different surfaces. This means that we try to design bowling balls for any possibility or scenario and also at varying price points based on the amount of performance that the player is looking for. Bowling and golf share many similarities in this case. You are allowed 14 clubs in your bag for a variety of shots, and also you have a multitude of players to design clubs for as well.


Good Fit (Conventional or Finger Tip)?

First of all you should make sure that your pro shop operator is IBPSIA certified and if not you should make some inquiries to local bowlers about balls that they have had drilled. Ask questions as to how their ball feels and if they have any problems with their hands.

Conventional or Finger Tip? - First of all are you serious about bowling or are you looking to have fun? Those of you who are serious and want to raise your game to its highest level should consider a finger tip grip. Anytime you can get more of your hand over the ball your ability to control the object increases. Consider a basketball player with a big hand versus a small hand. Which one has the greatest ball control? The player with the bigger hand has better ball control because he gets more of his hand around the ball. The same holds true for Bowling. the more you can get your hand over the ball, the better your control. It allows you to impart more rotation on the ball which in turn means more energy and increased strike percentage.

A conventional grip is simply functional. It allows you to play the game and enjoy it, It is much more difficult to impart rotation or manipulate the ball roll. It is much easier to throw the ball straight with a conventional grip.


How do I maintain my ball?

A bowling ball is a lot like the car you drive. With proper maintenance and care it will last much longer. I suggest that with any bowling regardless of material it is made of that you should keep it clean. I suggest you use a towel while you are bowling. You should wipe the ball of before each shot. Today's oils are much thicker and have the tendency to adhere to the bowling ball after each shot, so you should wipe the surface before each shot to ensure consistent performance. This is especially true of the ball with higher friction coverstocks (Reactive or Particles).

You should also clean your ball after each league, tournament, or practice session. I suggest you use a bowling ball cleaner. Many of these are designed to specifically remove the lane oil and maintain the coverstock as close to factory as possible. For those coverstocks that start with a duller finish when they are new, it is very important that you maintain that surface because the lane oils are more solid and they will cause the ball to glaze or shine on its own. consult your pro shop professional at least once month to examine your bowling ball and maintain the proper finish.


What layouts are recommended?

Consult your local pro shop professional based on your style, lane conditions, and performance you are looking for.


What is the difference between dull and shiny?

Both are simply measure of surface texture. A dull ball generally has a greater surface texture or higher amount of friction. The higher the amount of friction, the earlier the ball will hook. As the surface texture decrease the amount of friction also decreases which in turn creates more length before the ball starts hooking (shiny).