If you are a bowler, a bowling ball is one of the single most crucial equipment determining your performance in the alley. The ball will interact with every element in the game of bowling. It interacts with the player, the oil pattern, the lanes, and the pins. They are a representation of the biggest investment in the sport of bowling. The quality of a ball has the capacity to make or break your shots. Granted, a modern bowler needs to develop an understanding of the bowling ball technology so they can choose the best ball and use their knowledge to win on the lanes.
For the modern bowler, these balls are no longer simple spherical equipment as they used to be. Today, you cannot buy a bowling ball and use it for all lane conditions, or even use for more than a few years. The game has become more complex and better thanks to technology. You will see manufacturers offering more than ten bowling ball choices, all created for different conditions.
Best Bowling Balls of 2018
|Brunswick Rhino Reactive Bowling Ball Editor’s Choice||Reactive||10-16||for dry lanes,|
|Hammer Black Widow Legend Ball||Hybrid||12-16||for heavy oil lanes|
|Brunswick Kingpin Bowling Ball||Reactive Solid||12-16||for hook,|
|Motiv Venom Cobra Bowling Ball||Hybrid Reactive||12-16||for medium oil lanes|
|Storm Code Red Bowling Ball||Hybrid Reactive||12-16||for heavy oil lanes,|
1. Brunswick Rhino Reactive Bowling Ball – Best For Dry Lanes
If you are looking for your first reactive resin ball, the Rhino Reactive Bowling Ball might be a good choice for you. It comes in handy for light to medium oil conditions and is created as per the specifications of USBC to ensure that it gives you great performance at the alleys. This new ball is designed with the new R-16 reactive coverstock, which offers a great balance between control and power. The R-16 formula ensures a perfect length and backend hook-motion while reducing sensitivity to oily and dry parts of the lane. This gives you great aim and ensures the ball does not wander off course.
The Rhino Reactive Bowling Ball sports the conventional light bulb shaped core that enhances the motion of the ball with a great pin action, letting you make more strikes and score higher than you imagined. You can use this ball to drill the way you would with symmetric bowling ball. Each ball sports a unique core shape for weights between 12 and 16 pounds. This lightweight ball construction offers you as a player with consistent ball reaction across the entire weight range.
The ball is recommended if you are just learning to hook.
2. Hammer Black Widow Legend Ball – Best for Heavy Oil Lanes
The Hammer Legend was designed for different bowling situations and conditions. This is why it is referred to as a legend. The ball takes up after the Widow Legend line from the company, and takes it a notch higher to offer even better quality. The design of the ball is geared towards game improvement. It uses a hybrid coverstock, which gives it a lightweight construction while ensuring that it does not veer off course when you are bowling.
It sports a polished black cover combined with a gas mask, offering a great backend motion that carries the pins through. Each shot feels easy with this ball. It is recommended for medium to heavy oil lane. The manufacturer offers you a three-year warranty, guaranteeing you utmost quality in all gaming conditions.
3. Brunswick Kingpin Bowling Ball – Best for Hook
The Brunswick Kingpin is engineered to meet the needs of different players. This is a ball for those who are looking for the best hook potential, which makes it ideal for beginners. Its high hook potential comes from its combination of asymmetrical core with ECA, Enhanced Composite Adhesion, coverstock. The overall design of the ball makes it a high performance unit and it comes in handy in the heaviest oil conditions.
This ball offers a good length through the front with a strong mid-lane traction and a powerful backend motion. Each ball is offered with Brunswick’s DynamiCore, which is a patented core design geared towards balancing power and ball control. The patented outer core technology gives the balls a long-lasting performance with a high hitting power that instantly transforms into pin carry. The unique core is blue. The ball is recommended for angular heavy oil lanes.
4. Motiv Venom Cobra Bowling Ball – Best Reactive Bowling Ball
Motiv Venom Cobra is one of the top-selling balls from the manufacturer thanks to its versatility. The ball has almost everything that you need in a bowling session and it can be used by beginners as well as veterans. If you are looking for a ball that offers a superb performance, has a long shelf life, and at a competitive price, you might consider the Motiv Venom Cobra. Its new core and cover design combinations are designed to offer great performance while ensuring that users get all they need. The ball is designed for light to medium oil, offering more lengths than other balls from the same manufacturer. It has a faster response to friction and its strength through the lane might amaze you.
In every shot, the ball strikes with great power and continuation. Its new hybrid reactive coverstock offers a unique chemistry, enhancing the shelf life of this ball and enhancing performance even more. The ball has a 5500 grit SLP-Finish, which lets it skid cleanly through the front end of the lane and retain enough energy to push through a backend with a lot of friction. Its new dual-density weight block acts as the strong point of this ball. The weight enhances all variables of ball motion to give you consistent shots. The ball is recommended for light to medium oils thanks to its great design.
5. Storm Code Red Bowling Ball – Best Hybrid Reactive Coverstock Ball
Unlike other bowling balls on this list, the Code Red is shipped with no holes. The user can add drilling services before ordering to have it delivered with holes. It sports a RAD4 core that offers high torque and high speeds in different lane conditions. In their Code Black, Storm applied a high differential core technology that saw their balls becoming very successful and enhancing their performance in different conditions. The Code Red bowling ball offers a better version of this technology to enhance performance even more.
The core is combined with the Storm’s R2S hybrid reactive coverstock, which has been shown to offer great performance on most of the Storm’s balls. It is finished with 1500 grit polish. Its overall design enhancing its motion through the front end while letting it create a unique breakpoint shape with the strong backend reaction that all Storm bowling balls are known for. The ball sports a red pearl core and is designed for medium to heavy oil conditions. It has a cinnamon fragrance. Its strength through heavy oil lanes make this ball recommendable.
Buyers’ Guide – Understanding Bowling Balls
Bowling ball is the hard spherical sporting equipment that hits the pins in the bowling sport. These balls have three holes drilled in them where the bowler inserts the middle finger, the ring finger, and the thumb. The design and properties of these balls are regulated by independent bodies such as USBC. These bodies control the size, number of holes, hardness, and also maintains a list of bowling balls to enhance fair play. Ball used in five-pin, candlepin and duckpin bowling sports are relatively small, light, and have no holes. This allows them to be held on the palm of the bowler. When you visit a bowling alley, you will be provided with balls, known as ‘house balls.’
The key features of 10-pin bowling balls include porosity, friction, and mass distribution. These factors affect the motion of the ball. Manufacturers vary these factors to control how much a ball rolls through an oiled lane as well as how easily a ball changes direction when its roll combines with rotational motion. Friction and porosity and factors that affect the surface of the ball, also known as the coverstock. The shape and the size of the core, the inner part of the ball, determine the mass distribution of the ball. Manufacturers tweak the design of the core and the coverstock to enhance the performance of these bowling balls.
Bowling Ball Specifications
A bowling ball can only be made from uniform solid materials with a 3.80 g/mL density or lower. The weight of the ball should not exceed 16 pounds. The hardness of the ball should be at least 72 and its circumference should be between 26.704 and 27.002 inches.
On the surface of the ball, the manufacturer is required to indicate brand name, ball name, center of gravity before hole drilling, core orientation, and a unique serial number and USBC logo. With a USBC logo, it shows that the ball meets all the set standards.
USBC allows holes to be drilled on the bowling ball, up to five holes per ball. Each hole should have an additional hole, a balance hole, used for ventilation. The balance holes might be added for mass distribution. Any hole not used for gripping is considered a balance hole. Bowlers are not allowed to have the thumb hole as their balance hole as this may give them a spinning advantage. There may be an additional mill hole, used for ball inspection. Bowling balls need to be designed balanced to ensure that the left and the right side of the ball are nearly equal, or with a difference of not more than 1 oz. The difference between the top and the bottom, which are equal or a difference of not more than 3 oz.
USBC is always changing the rules to make the game better and enhance fairness in the alleys. Granted, you need to ensure that the ball you have has a USBC serial number and logo.
Bowling Ball Materials and Construction
Like mentioned earlier, a bowling ball has two main parts, the coverstock and the core or the weight block. The coverstock is the part of the ball that you see, and it has a high impact and hook potential, seeing that it comes to contact with the lane surface.
There are basically four main types of bowling balls coverstock based on the material of construction – plastic, reactive resin, urethane, and particle or proactive. The difference between these coverstocks is in the way they perform and their reaction to the surface of the lane. These coverstocks produce different levels of friction when a ball is rolled on the alley. The higher the friction created, the better the hook potential. The coverstocks include;
Plastic coverstock offers a smooth surface and has the least friction. This means that it has a low hook potential, making it ideal for beginners. The ball has a great fit to the hand, giving the player all the control they need. Intermediate and seasoned players can use this ball to shoot spares thanks to its predictable reaction.
Urethane coverstocks are more durable compared to plastic. They offer more friction between the lane surface and the ball. The increased friction means that the coverstock has a high hook potential, deflects less, and offers a great pin action. If you need a highly controllable ball, choose a urethane ball.
Reactive Resin is the least durable coverstock, but it offers the highest friction, high hook potential, and better pin action. Given the high friction of these balls, they are more sensitive to lane conditions and can be affected by operator errors too. To this end, they are more challenging to control. They are great for the intermediate or the advanced bowler looking for hook-ability.
The surface of a proactive coverstock is bumpy and it allows the ball to dig into the surface of the lane, creating the highest friction available on lanes that are heavily oiled. This ball is a great choice for intermediate and advanced bowlers alike.
The weight block is the part beneath the coverstock. These weight blocks can be either high or low mass. High mass weight blocks are shaped like pancakes and are located close to the shell of the ball. This type of weight is great when you need a lot of length down the lane. It prevents the ball from getting into a heavy roll.
A low mass weight block can feature a variety of shapes with different densities. It is located towards the center of the ball. This type of weight block allows a heavy roll, which enhances the hood potential.
Coverstock Surface Finish
There are different coverstock surface finishes from different manufacturers. The surfaces are either polished or sanded. Within these two finishes, there are endless finishing combinations, grits steps, and different compounds utilized. You can modify the ball surface to meet your needs and match lane conditions.
Abrasive pads such as Abralon pads are highly used to modify the coverstock surfaces. When you are modifying the finish, remember that rough finishes offer high friction and better hook ability. Smooth surfaces have low friction and low hook ability. Sanded surfaces are ideal when you need the ball to start hooking towards the end of the surface. The sanded surface offers a better grip of the lane. Smooth surfaces are ideal when you need the ball to roll farther down the lane before hooking.
Factors Affecting Coverstock Performance
According to a study conducted by USBC in 2008, there are a number of factors that affect the performance of coverstock on different surfaces. These factors include:
- Surface roughness
- Oil absorption rate
The core can be symmetrical or asymmetrical besides being low mass or high mass. This will depend on the weight distribution of the core inside the ball. This core, just like the coverstock, is affected by a number of factors.
Factors Affecting Core Performance
The performance of the core on-lane is influenced by its as-drilled mass properties. Here, the aspects that matter include the low RG of the drilled ball, intermediate differential, total differential, and low and high RG axes orientation in relation to the positive axis point and the static imbalances of the ball.
Bowlers are normally confused by how the shape of a ball’s core affects its performance. The drilled shape of the core will affect the performance of the ball, but only as much as it affects the as-drilled mass properties of the ball. For instance, two balls with different geometries might be drilled to have the same as-drilled mass properties. The on-lane performance of these two balls will be the same.
Choosing the Right Ball for Bowling
You need to have a good bowling ball if you are interested in bettering your game. You will be offered a ball when you visit a bowling alley, but this might not meet your need. For ultimate performance on the lanes, you need to have a custom ball. Again, you need to know which factors you need to consider incase the bowling alley you visit has a variety of options. When shopping, consider ball weight, your skill level, and ball performance.
Weight determines how easy it is for you to control the ball. An adult bowling ball should be between 12 and 15 pounds. Women will need balls at the lower end of this range. For teens and younger players, the best weight is between 10 and 12 pounds. As your experience level goes up, you can choose a weightier ball.
Age should not be the only determinant of the ball weight you choose. If you feel comfortable with a lighter ball and it helps you control your bowling technique, choose a ball in the light weight range. Before you place your order, you can visit a bowling alley and test out different balls to see which matches your bowling style and feels comfortable on your hands. Use the experience you have gathered to make your decision.
Understand the Condition of Lanes
When you are shopping for a ball, consider typical lane conditions. The market is awash with all sorts of bowling balls to match the styles of beginners, seasoned players, light balls, and balls that offer strong reactions in heavy oil conditions. You need to ask about lane and oil conditions and check to see which types of ball other players are using. Once you have known of lane conditions, match that with the best coverstock. Common lanes include:
- Dry Lanes – In dry lane conditions, you need a pearl and stiff coverstock balls. This kind of a ball will slide easily to the pins.
- Medium to heavy oil: For medium or heavy oil on the front end of the lane, pick a solid coverstock. Poly-urethane overstocks offer increased gripping action.
One advantage of having your own custom bowling ball is the ability to fit your fingers. House balls have different sizes of the holes and it might be difficult to fit your fingers and develop game consistency. When the thumb and forefinger holes are incorrectly spaced, the ball will feel uncomfortable and lead to the wrong release of the ball.
Custom holes on a ball make it easy to make a shot. Once you have used a custom ball for the first time, you will never go back. These are for people who want to have more control of the ball and enhance their performance on the lane.
Bowling Ball Appearance
The appearance of your bowling ball matters. It might not be much for some people, but when you like your ball, it gives you confidence. Confidence is the driving force towards bowling or sporting success. The power you put into each throw and the form will depend on your state of mind. The ball color and the patterns should appeal to you. Some hybrid coverstocks have unique flowing color patterns unlike the solid colors on most balls.
Some bowling balls are shipped with no holes. This is great as you can cut holes that fit perfectly in your hands. Once your ball has been shipped, ask around and have the holes cut. The best way to buy a bowling ball is knowing what you need before you start looking. Head out to the alley and choose a good ball then make the order for such a ball. When you have actual experience with bowling balls, choosing a good ball will not be an issue.
To the regular bowler who is looking to have fun bowling, house balls will suffice. For someone who is serious about the game, a custom ball comes in handy. One ball might not be enough. To play in different lane conditions, choose two or more balls and you will be well covered. This means choosing different coverstocks.