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The Best Bowling Balls (Even Big Ern Would be Jealous Of)
Having a good bowling ball won’t automatically make you a great bowler, but with lots of practice and dedication, it can make a significant difference in your game. If you are progressing your game or playing regularly, having your own bowling ball is one of the first things you want to invest in. Understanding some of the basic scientific principles behind bowling balls will help you choose the best fit and gain the most benefit from your ball. You need a bowling ball of the correct weight and Coverstock to suit your needs. To help you get one step ahead of the game, we’ve listed below the best bowling balls in 2022 for all level bowlers. And if your loved one is a bowling alley regular, we also mention some of the best bowling ball gifts to score you some points. Keep in mind, bowling balls do not come pre-drilled since they need to be custom drilled for you.
Very low hook potential (25 on a scale of 10-175) for pinpoint accuracy to catch spares
Nine different ball colors are available with gorgeous galaxy swirl designs
Available in 6 to 16 pounds weight range
Brunswick T Zone balls have a 1-Year polyester bowling ball warranty
Brunswick T Zone bowling balls are a cost-efficient addition as a spare ball for players of all skill levels and a perfect choice as a first ball for beginners. T Zone bowling balls have a durable polyester cover stock offering straight-line accuracy and consistency. With a somewhat cheaper price tag, beginner bowlers can use some of their budget for other needed accessories such as gloves and bowling shoes. As a spare bowling ball option for intermediate and expert bowlers, Brunswick T Zone balls are a great straight-shot second ball to finish frames off. The ball’s symmetrical core and low hook potential provide excellent lane length and ease in finding your spare shot mark consistently.
Pearl reactive coverstock with factory polish finish
Symmetric core type and medium flare potential
Versatile drilling options for various bowling styles
Eight different ball colors are available
Available in a 12-pound weight
Pyramid Path Rising allows any style bowler to achieve peak performance in medium to medium-dry conditions. The ball is finished with a 1500-grit polish for a clean look and sharp ball reaction. The pearl reactive resin coverstock allows the ball to hook with subtlety. Pyramid Path Rising Bowling Balls are versatile with multiple drilling options, allowing you to tailor your ball to your skillset and needs.
The Storm Phaze III captures the best of bowling ball tech to give you a superb game experience. The Phaze III is wrapped in a hybrid reactive cover with a 1500-grit polished finish. It features the fast-revving Velocity symmetric core which powers the ball down the lane and saves up energy for where you need it without causing over-reaction. The ball is a great go-to for a variety of bowling styles and oil patterns. Although not as important as its performance, the grapevine scent is all the rave amongst reviewers.
Hammer Black Widow 2.0 comes with a two-year ball warranty
This matte-finish high-performance bowling ball features a solid reactive coverstock, showcasing the original black and red colors. This ball provides optimal traction on medium to heavy oil conditions, producing continuous ball motion which gives a lot of angles. The asymmetric gas mask core is wrapped in a carbon fiber outer layer providing power and durability. The Hammer Black Widow 2.0 is recommended for more experienced bowlers.
Although more of a novelty than a high-performance ball, KR’s Clear Red Rose bowling ball is what every bowler has wanted since Big Ern revealed his custom ball in the movie Kingpin. Due to the design of the ball, it only comes in a 14-pound weight but looks amazing in action. The ball performs best in dry lane conditions. The polyester coverstock is durable and less porous than other coverstock materials, resulting in low ball-lane friction.
The Storm IQ Tour Emerald features the perfect balance of mid-lane control and backend hook. It has an excellent average 5-star rating from users with a C3 centripetal control core that provides a smooth change of direction downline. The pearl reactive coverstock has a 1500-grit finish and does not come predrilled, allowing you to customize the ball to your style and needs. The dark green sphere looks great in action and has a melon mint scent.
Solid reactive coverstock with 4000 grit sanded factory finish
Gear symmetrical core
Available in 12 to 16-pound weight range
The Motiv Venom Shock bowling ball comes in a marbled purple only with bright orange and green accents which pop beautifully on the lane
Medium-low flare potential
Best for light to medium oil conditions
The Motiv Venom Shock is a versatile advanced-performance bowling ball for low-speed and high-speed bowlers alike. With a steady down-lane motion, it builds energy and transfers through the pins well, remaining consistently reactive across a wide variety of oil patterns. While Motiv Venom Shock doesn’t have extreme features, it is consistent and simply does a lot of things well, making it an excellent addition to your bowling kit.
Whether you are new to bowling or just buying your own ball for the first time, it may be tempting to pick the most stylish ball off the shelf. However, this ball-buying tactic will not get your game very far. Choosing the right bowling ball can make a significant difference to your game. There are many specifications and manufacturing details that need to be considered when choosing the best bowling ball for you. Its color is unfortunately not as important. So instead of just grabbing a big shiny ball off the shelf, we’ve put together everything you need to consider when choosing the best bowling ball to help you get a big shiny trophy instead.
How to Choose a Bowling Ball
Every detail of your new bowling ball is going to play an important role in how it performs when it leaves your hands. Here are the things to consider when buying a bowling ball:
The most important consideration when choosing a bowling ball is the weight. One of the best ways to select the ball weight is to calculate 1 pound for every 10 pounds of body weight. Therefore, if you weigh around 120 pounds, you will choose a ball in the range of 12-13 pounds. This allows you to control the ball well without tiring too quickly.
Test the weight you have chosen by having someone pass you the ball when stretching out your arm. This will determine if the ball is too heavy. When the ball is placed in your hands, it should not pull you off balance. If it does, it will be too heavy for you to control. In the same way, a ball that is too light will be hard to bowl straight or control effectively.
If you are buying a ball for someone else and are not sure of their weight, you can make a rough estimation by age. Bowling balls can weigh anywhere between 6 to 16 pounds. Lighter balls weighing between 6 to 10 pounds are generally designed for children while 11-14 pound balls are suitable for teenagers. Adult females and senior players in general use 12-14 pound balls, while adult males use 15-16 pound balls, with the heaviest balls at 16 pounds being the maximum weight allowed in professional bowling.
The ball's coverstock, or shell, can be made from polyester, urethane, or reactive resin primary materials which affect the surface texture, hardness, and oil absorption. Here is a brief description of each coverstock type.
Polyester or plastic coverstock is very durable and common in beginner balls. The smooth surface is less porous than other coverstock materials, results in low ball-lane friction, and has a low hook potential meaning it will go fairly straight.
Urethane is used by beginners, intermediate, and professionals as it creates a lot of friction between the lane and the ball. It is easier to curve with a moderate hook potential. Although a little bit more expensive than other options, it is a good option for players who try to hit the pins from an angle. However, with more friction, you do trade-off some control which can be tricky on lanes with a lot of oil.
Professional bowlers usually have more than one type of ball to compensate for varying lane conditions.
Reactive resin balls are expensive but hook very well and are common in professional-grade bowling balls. They offer the most ball-lane friction and come in three types namely solid, pearl, and hybrid.
The solid option offers an even rolling experience with a little more friction on oily lanes. The pearl reactive resin coverstock is not as reactive as the solid option. It still allows the ball to hook but with more subtlety. The hybrid option is a combination of pearl and solid reactive coverstocks.
A bowling ball can have a pancake, symmetrical, or asymmetrical core which will, amongst other factors, determine where you can drill finger holes.
Pancake core balls are easier to control down the lane with little technique adjustment required. They tend to stay straight for a smooth rolling experience which is ideal for beginners.
A bowling ball with an asymmetrical core is a little more advanced and is found in most bowling balls. Since it is balanced, you have more even control.
Although most people prefer using a symmetrical core ball, an asymmetrical core allows you to create a more angular motion. This is beneficial if you need an angle to hit the pins.
Most recently manufactured bowling balls are USBC approved, which means that the weight is accurate, the ball is balanced, and you can use it for professional competitions. If you are not sure whether your ball is USBC approved, you can take it to a bowling shop to check the necessary aspects.
Bowling balls are usually purchased solid and require the holes to be drilled as per your specifications. This should be done at a bowling shop that can do it professionally using the correct measurements and understanding the geometry of the bowling ball.
Additional Considerations When Choosing a Bowling Ball
Additional brand logos on your bowling ball can sometimes result in a price spike without any real benefits. If you are budget-conscious, shop around. Once you have your ball ready, ensure to take good care of it by keeping it in a suitable protective bag and using the right cleaning products. The bowling balls in our list offer excellent value for money, so make sure to check those out too.
Bowling Ball FAQs
Are you allowed to bowl using 2 hands?
Yes, bowling with 2 hands is allowed and there is no rules violation when using this approach.
How can you tell if a bowling ball is too heavy?
If you can hold the ball in the palm of your bowling hand without your arm shaking, the ball is not too heavy. However, if your arm is shaking and you struggle to hold it, drop a pound or 2.
Are all bowling balls the same size?
Yes, although balls vary by weight, all bowling balls are manufactured with a universal 8.5-inch diameter.
Amos grew up playing just about any team sport you can think of, becoming a great lacrosse player in high school. Once he got to college, he took up rugby and cricket and has never looked back. As an active guy, he continues to pursue his passions and plays in a bowling league with his younger brothers. Mr. Henderson knows just how important the right equipment is, whatever the activity, and is excited to use his breadth of experience to recommend the top products for any number of athletic pursuits.