Types of Bowling Balls

Modern Bowling Balls

Today’s bowlers have literally hundreds of bowling ball options available to them. They come at all different price points, with a wide variety of different types of coverstocks, core types, and colors all designed to tackle a wide variety of different lane conditions. Most bowlers really have no idea what they’re looking at when they evaluate different bowling balls, different drilling layouts, and different coverstocks. Additionally, they really struggle when they attempt to choose a ball that suits their game. In this article, we’ll discuss the main components of bowling balls and some popular brands you can choose from depending on your bowling style.

Main Components

Bowling balls have two main components: the coverstock and the core. Bowling balls consist of other important components; however, to understand modern bowling balls it is best to think of them as only two parts.

The Coverstock

Most bowlers today would agree that the coverstock is responsible for roughly 60% of a balls on-lane performance. Bowling ball manufactures today generally offer three types of coverstock: Polyester, Urethane, and Reactive Resin. Let’s start by discussing Polyurethane coverstock.

The Polyester (Plastic) Coverstock

Most bowlers today use polyester, or plastic, coverstocks. Polyester coverstocks are generally harder and less porous than many other types of coverstock, which creates less friction on the bowling lane. Polyester coverstocks are used for mainly three reasons:

  • Beginner or recreational bowlers use polyester coverstocks because they are low cost, fairly durable for long-term use, and easy to control.
  • Competitive bowlers often use polyester coverstocks on spare balls, since polyester does not require much hook, allowing the bowler to throw straight.
  • Both beginner and competitive bowlers find that at times low friction polyester balls still give them the best chance at striking.

Polyester coverstocks are the most popular coverstock used today by both beginner and recreational bowlers. We’ll now discuss another type of coverstock commonly used by entry-level bowlers.

The Urethane Coverstock

Today, urethane balls are targeted for entry-level bowlers ready to learn how to hook a ball down the lane, because of the friction they produce. While urethane coverstock has largely been replaced by reactive resin, urethane coverstock remains popular with entry-levels bowlers because they are reasonably priced and relatively predictable on-lane. Most manufacturers now produce several balls with urethane coverstocks for entry-level bowlers, who are not advanced enough to use reactive resin coverstocks.

The Reactive Resin Coverstock

Reactive resin coverstock fundamentally changed professional bowling when reactive resins became available. Reactive resins produce significantly more friction lane surfaces, resulting in greater hooks and greater angles into the pocket. Most mid-range to high performance bowling balls being sold today have reactive resin coverstocks. Though each and every bowling ball is different, manufactures classify reactive resin covers into three groups: reactive solid, reactive pearl, and reactive hybrid.

  • Reactive Solid: Reactive solid coverstocks are the basic formulation of reactive resin. Generally, reactive solid coverstocks are more smooth and produce more friction in the oil than reactive pearl and reactive hybrid coverstocks.
  • Reactive Pearl: Reactive pearl coverstocks are the same as reactive solids, except they contain one more additive: mica. Mica makes the coverstock have lower friction in the oiled part of bowling lanes, causing the ball to hook less at the front of the lane.
  • Reactive Hybrid: Hybrid coverstocks are a combination of solid and pearl coverstocks. Reactive hybrids can be customized to the bowler’s hook choice by having part solid coverstock and part pearl. The ball’s reaction on the lane depends on the amount of each coverstock.

The coverstock makes up only part of the bowling ball. While different coverstocks result in different actions of ball, the core is equally important to your bowling ball’s performance depending on your core selection.

The Core

Modern-day bowling ball cores come in a wide variety of types, shapes, and sizes. There are three main types of bowling ball cores that we’ll discuss: pancake-type, symmetrical, and asymmetrical.


Pancake-type cores are literally bowling ball cores shaped like “pancakes.” They’re small and flat. The shape of pancake-type cores creates very little friction within the ball. A common characteristic of this type of core is that they generally are limited in the amount of angle or hook you can put in the swing. They are considered “pin-in” balls, which means they are meant for more traditional bowling methods, such as “aim and throw.”


Symmetrical cores are large cores found in two-piece balls. Symmetrical cores tend to be smoother or me even on the lane. Generally, symmetrical cores are found in most “house” bowling balls unless otherwise expressed by the bowling alley. Symmetrical cores are primarily used by entry-level and recreational bowlers.


Asymmetrical cores come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. These cores produce more angle on the lane, which helps with hooking your ball. Asymmetrical bowling ball cores are generally used by only professional bowlers because of the complexity of the ball make-up. Even small variations in swing, cause asymmetrical balls to hook and curve differently. The cores are also the most customizable and are can be created based on your bowline style.


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Buying a Bowling Ball

When you have decided to buy your own customized bowling ball, there are many option to consider. Technological advances in bowling balls today has made the process even more complex. The number of options bowlers have to choose from continues to grow everyday. Below are a few options for beginner bowlers to consider when buying a bowling ball.

Bowling Style

The style of bowling ball you choose depends on your personal bowling style. Those with a strong forward swing would best be suited to a ball that hooks wide into the pocket, but bowlers whose swing lower with less strength, might want a ball that does not hook into the pocket as strongly. Before you can purchase a bowling ball, you have to understand your personal bowling style, and therefore your control of the ball.

Ball Weight

The weight of the bowling ball you choose has a huge impact on your game. Your bowling ball should be comfortable enough for continuous use, but also weigh enough so that you can maintain control when swinging forward. Bowling ball weights range from 6 to 16lbs. Men typically will use bowling balls weighing between 13 and 16 pounds. Women generally use lighter bowling balls, weighing 10 pounds and up. It’s always better to use a weight that is easy for you to control for long durations of time. The bowling ball weight should suit your bowling style, so you should choose a weight that will work for your personal bowling style.


Control over your bowling ball is an important part in scoring high in bowling. While you need power, you have to be able to make the bowling ball do what you want. You cannot rely on your strength to get you strikes. That being said, if you have no control over a specific ball then that ball is probably not right for you.


The composition will determine quite a bit when it comes to buying a bowling ball. Composition impacts how well the ball will perform on the lane. You should determine you bowling style and skill before selecting a ball by composition. The chart below shows several option when it comes to determined a ball based on composition. Also check out the “Modern Bowling Ball” article for more information on composition.

Ball Composition

Skill Level


Plastic or Polyester

Beginner ·       Works well in dry conditions.

·       Very little hook and ideal for bowlers who roll in a straight line.

·       Least expensive.


Intermediate ·       Works well on lanes that are lightly oiled because of the sanded finish.

·       Rolls with a controlled hook.

·       Offers more opportunity for strikes because pins remain low when hit.


Advanced ·       Performs best on well-oiled lanes.

·       Sharp hook with abrupt power.

·       Greater entry angle.

·       Greatest strike potential.

·        Most expensive.


Bowling Ball Accessories

Bowling Ball Bags

Bowling ball bags come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. It is recommended that even beginner bowlers consider purchasing a bowling ball bag to reduce the risk of being chipped and/or damaged.

Bowling Towels

Using a bowling ball towel is a practical way to wipe residue off of your bowling ball. Bowling towels ensure that your bowling ball is evenly polished each time it comes off the lane and allows for better performance on lane.

Bowling Ball Cleaners

In order to maintain performance, you need to regularly clean your bowling ball. While professional bowling ball store offer cleaning services, it is recommended you manually clean you ball often. Too much oil build-up causes friction to increase and your ball to perform negatively on the lane. Polishes and cleaners can be found at any professional bowling shop, but you should not use cleaners that contain large amounts of polish. Too much polish greatly reduces friction and can damage your ball on the lane.

Storm Nation

Storm Nation is a bowling manufacturer that provides an online service call Matchmaker. Matchmaker will recommend bowling balls based on your bowling style, which might help you customize and purchase your own bowling ball. You can find the website in the Sources section below.


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Bowling Shoes

Shoe Styles

When it comes to bowling, there are different components that come together to help you have the best game. Your bowling shoes are one of them. There are a variety of ways to create your own customizable shoes. You could also choose the easy and simple route, and rent your own shoes. Though, the easy way out is not always what’s best.

The Perfect Fit

It doesn’t matter if you’re renting or buying shoes, they all come in a variety of forms. To start off your search, you’ll first need to measure your feet. The size of shoe you normally wear; may not be the same size you’ll need when it comes to finding the perfect bowling shoes. Measuring your feet is a task in itself. You’ll first need to decide which style of shoes you are wanting to purchase. If you choose the performance style, you’ll want to measure each of your feet individually.

When it comes to measure your feet, be sure to measure them at the end of the day because your feet will have swollen up some. You’ll also want to measure your feet with the types of socks you will be bowling in. You’ll need:

  • paper
  • a writing utensil
  • ruler

You’ll first want to start off measuring from the tip of your longest toe, to the back of your heel. To find the width of your feet, you’ll need to measure the distance between the widest part of your feet. You can use the chart below to help identify your size for bowling shoes. If this starts to seem like too much to take on, you may look into getting your feet professionally measured.

 Rent or Buy

If you find yourself going to the local bowling alley on special occasions, then you would benefit from renting bowling shoes. Rental shoes are best for those that are inexperienced, and free-spirited. Renting bowling shoes can anywhere from $3 to $7. So this may be the most common sense route to take if you like to go out occasionally and bowl.

Maybe you find yourself going bowling more frequent than you have in the past, or can see bowling turning into a passion. For those beginner bowlers, and those who are already in a league, then you would benefit from purchasing your own bowling shoes. There is a wide range of ways you can customize your own shoes. You’ll need to decide if you want to create performance or athletic type shoes, the types of soles would be best for you, and any other optional features they have to offer. The best thing about purchasing your own shoes is that you can create your own “perfect fit”.

Athletic or Performance

When it comes to the appearance of your shoes you choose between an athletic or performance appearance. The athletic appearance is designed to look other athletic footwear. These styles usually come with both soles that are meant to help with sliding. Most beginners can a benefit from starting off with athletic appearance shoes.

While athletic appearances are great for beginners, performance appearance styles are for those that are seeking to improve their game. These shoes are created with each sole serving its own purpose in your style of bowling. One sole is meant for sliding, while the other is meant for braking.


There are two types of soles, sliding and traction. Sliding soles help you with your slide. You can choose these soles based on how long you want to slide when you bowl, and how you usually brake for the delivery. Traction soles help you with braking in your delivery. You can choose these soles based on how you approach the lane and how much you slide during your delivery. You can use the chart below to help pick out the right soles for you.

Slide & Heel Bowling Shoe Guide

Optional Features

When customizing your shoes, there are other features you can add to help with comfort. You can add padded linings and collars, cushioned insoles, and breathable uppers. These can not only improve the comfort of your shoes, but also allow for extra stability in your delivery. They can provide extra support and coolness during your game.


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Bowling Ball Care

One of the greatest responsibilities you have as a bowler is to keep up with the maintenance of your bowling ball. If you haven’t realized it yet, you’ll soon discover that after every shot, your ball collects dirt and small debris from the oil in the lane. While this oil can be beneficial, it can affect your game if you’re not cleaning your ball.

Thankfully there are multiple solutions to getting your ball cleaned and tidy for your next game. A simple solution would be to take it to the closest bowling professional shop. These stores have the equipment you need to get your ball in tip-top shape.  If that is not an option for you, then you can clean your ball yourself.

General Cleaning

To clean your ball at home, you’ll need a few items:

  • microfiber towel
  • liquid ball cleaner
  • grit pads
  • polisher

You’ll want to clean your ball off with this microfiber towel after every shot. This helps from your ball building up oil during the game. The liquid ball cleaner can be applied with the same towel. This cleaner has special agents to help clean the surface of your ball. Polishing your ball helps reduce any friction it’ll have while going down the lane. Using grit pads can help scruff your dull ball to improve its skid to best fit your style of delivery.

Deep Cleaning

You’ll want to treat your bowl to the occasional deep cleaning to help it get back to its original performance. This is something you do every now and then. An easy way to tackle this task is to take it your local professional shop. They have the materials and equipment to get it detailed clean for you. Of course, this is also another thing you can take care of at home. You’ll want to use absorbent materials to help remove all of the oil from your ball. There are other home remedies you can do as well. Such as submerging your bowling ball (with the finger holes sealed shut with a waterproof adhesive) into warm/hot water.

 Cleaning Schedule

When it comes to cleaning your bowling ball, it is best to create a schedule to maintain the durability of your ball. As stated before, it is encouraged to wipe your ball with a microfiber towel after each shot or game. You can also follow the chart below to get you started on a cleaning schedule.

After Game Maintenance
10 Re-polish glossy balls, and scuff dull balls
30 Re-polish and scuff glossy balls
60 Full restoration, and replace finger inserts

*Repeat this schedule after your 60th game


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