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What Should I Consider When Buying a Bowling Ball?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Choosing a bowling ball, like many other types of sport equipment, can be somewhat confusing — especially for beginning or novice bowlers. However, there are a few things to consider that will make choosing the right ball easier. First, you should decide how often you plan to use it and how much you are willing to spend.

Bowling balls are constructed of one of four basic types of material, and each is designed for a different purpose. The type most commonly purchased and used by beginning bowlers is plastic, though the balls are actually constructed of polyester. Plastic balls are the least expensive type, very durable, and the same construction as most in-house balls at bowling alleys. A plastic ball generally stays on the course it is thrown and remains straight as it skids down the alley. It works well for kids and those learning the sport, but more experienced bowlers prefer a differently constructed ball.

There are numerous factors to consider when buying a bowling ball.
There are numerous factors to consider when buying a bowling ball.

The other types of bowling balls are reactive resin, particle, and urethane. Each type suits different needs, but anyone learning to throw a hook will be better satisfied with one of these over plastic. One important consideration when choosing a material is lane conditions. Dry lanes are those that are not oiled, and a urethane bowling ball will react fairly well to these conditions and can be polished to better control the hook. However, on oiled lanes, a reactive resin or particle ball will react better than urethane.

Plastic bowling balls are the cheapest and most suitable balls for beginners.
Plastic bowling balls are the cheapest and most suitable balls for beginners.

Along with the construction of the ball, the weight is another important factor. Most people should select a ball that is approximately 10% of their total body weight. However, certain physical conditions may affect the need for less or more weight. A good way to determine the proper weight of a bowling ball is to try several different weights on in-house balls and then add about 1 pound (453.59 grams) to the best weight ball. The reason for adding weight is because a ball with custom drilled finger holes will make the ball feel slightly lighter.

Selecting the proper bowling ball isn't difficult, especially with help from a pro-shop. Remember to buy a bag to house your ball for transportation, and if you are planning to bowl regularly to develop and perfect your release and your game, it's worthwhile to invest in a pair of comfortable bowling shoes and avoid repeated rental charges.

Discussion Comments


I average 200, and have been bowling with the original beast ball using a conventional grip and use a lot of my wrist to create spin. I recently was talked into buying a new ball -- Storms Hy Road -- and the pro shop guy talked me into going finger tip.

Now I can't hit a 160 game, the ball sticks on my thumb like crazy making my whole arm sore and I constantly have to apply easy slide to my thumb and the guy doesn't think he should drill the thumb any larger.

Buying this new ball has been a huge step back for my game and not sure if I can figure out this fingertip ball if my thumb won't come out of it.


@anon140076: You are absolutely right the most common beginning bowling ball is the Power groove. It has a light reactive cover stock so it won't over react and they can handle it. Yet it has some reactivity so it won't go just straight like a plastic white dot. It is good to get advice from fellow bowlers, but be careful as some people who believe they are good really have no idea what they are talking about. Good luck and remember the most important thing is to stay relaxed and have fun.


@Quadgrl20: Well, you may be right to look into a reactive resin or urethane ball. Usually with a league you bowl on what's called a house condition of oil. My best advice if you want to get a bowling ball is to ask a certified coach; they always guide in the right direction.

As far as learning a hook, you need to ask a coach or a fellow experienced bowler what type of bowler you are. Beginning to learn to hook a ball usually means you are a stroker player (mostly straight with a little tiny hook), a tennis player (means average amount of spin on the ball, slightly higher revolutions on the ball, and lastly the power player (highest revolutions on the ball most speed, and most amount of hook). I would look into something that is called entry level, perhaps a Brunswick Power Groove, some kind of Inferno, or something like that. Good luck and hope this helps!


I have a 201 avg. I bowl once a week. Medium oil, 14 mph 3/4 roll. There are so many balls to pick from. What should I be looking for in buying a new ball.


I would say something like the columbia white dot would be good to try. If you are starting to throw a hook you might try a power groove or hammer rayzer.


I never know what kind of lane conditions I'm on, what kind of ball should I look into?


So my husband and I got into the sport of bowling regularly just for fun. Well I've always thrown just a straight ball and now I'm learning to throw a curve... I've read about the different types of balls but I basically just want to ask what the best ball would be the reactive resin or the Urethane. Our alley oils their lanes for league so for open bowl depending on the night depends if it was freshly oiled or if it's dry. And if there was a league team that bowled on that lane. So since I never know what kind of lane conditions I'm on what kind of ball should I look into...

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    • There are numerous factors to consider when buying a bowling ball.
      By: toodlingstudio
      There are numerous factors to consider when buying a bowling ball.
    • Plastic bowling balls are the cheapest and most suitable balls for beginners.
      By: fotoliaxrender
      Plastic bowling balls are the cheapest and most suitable balls for beginners.