Bowling has been a very popular leisure activity for all ages for several decades, mainly because it is fairly cheap to play and is a very fun social activity.
When you go bowling, typically you pay for your lane in time increments. Then you have to rent a pair of bowling shoes from the counter and pick out a bowling ball from the rack. This part is always a struggle for me. I have to put my fingers in several different balls to find the right fit for my hand, and then I never know the correct weight of ball I want to try. So I usually end up with four or five bowling balls in my rack during play which causes confusion.
Having your own bowling ball has many great benefits, such as;
1. Improved score and consistency
Bowling with your own ball will drastically improve your score as well as consistency because your hand muscles get trained every time you use it. However, when you use the bowling balls of the rack at the bowling centers, your muscles are instead forced to adapt to the style and fit of that ball.
Having a ball that suits your hand will improve your grip thereby increasing your ball control and technique.
2. Reduced risk of hand injury
Most hand injuries in bowling happen because the ball did not fit the hand and shots were forced to adapt to a specific bowling style. Bowling balls vary in weight, from 6 pounds to over 16 pounds.
And though the heavier the ball, the better, you must remember that choosing a ball that is too heavy for you will strain the hand muscles and tendons. You might strain your back as well after few hours of playing.
3. Ease and Convenience
One very simple convenience to having your own ball is that you guarantee you will have the same ball every time you play. A few times I’ve visited a bowling alley in the past, I found a perfect ball that fit my hand. I’ve tried to hide the ball in the racks to use for my next visit, but it’s always gone. Since, I’ve had my own ball, I don’t have to worry about this anymore!
With your own bowling ball, you can always be sure that you have the best chance win the game and show off your best skills to your colleagues or friends.
4. Perfect Weight
Some bowling enthusiasts believe that the heavier the bowling ball they can throw, then the more prestige they will acquire from their playing partners. Others, preach by a false myth that a heavier bowling ball will knock down more bowling pins than a lighter bowling ball would. In theory this is true, but only if everything else is equal too. However, when things get down to bowling, very few things are equal.
Buying your own ball ensures that you have a ball that is right for you in terms of weight. Some seasoned bowlers believe that an average player should invest in a bowling ball that is somewhere around the 10% mark of his weight, that is maximum up to 16 pounds. I would suggest you judge what weight you need based on your own comfort.
What to look for when choosing a bowling ball?
Before we move on to the main factors in choosing a right bowling ball for you, I would like to familiarize you with what lane conditions are. Lane condition is a term that is used to describe the oil pattern that is used to cover the lanes; the patterns are not visible to the naked eye.
Nowadays, the practice is used to add a protective coat, as well as, to make the lane more challenging. There are several lane conditions that a bowler needs to know about;
1. House patterns
A lane is coated in segments; some parts might be wet, meaning they are covered in lots of oil, while others might be dry. The patterns are never revealed, instead, bowlers are always left guessing what the pattern is so as to adjust their strategy. A house pattern consists of wet areas in the middle and dry ones on the outer parts. This pattern actually helps the bowlers because if you hit a bad shot and the ball rolls towards the side of the lane, the dryness will slow down the skidding. This gives the bowling ball enough time to make its way back to the center and salvage the shot.
2. Other patterns
Some lanes might be coated heavier in the front or back, while others might be less coated on the front or the back and be heavily coated in the center. Look at your ball to determine when it starts skidding, this will mean the oil coating starts there. If you are a straight bowler then you don’t need to worry about lane conditions. Bowlers, who like hooking their bowling balls are the ones who need to monitor the lanes.
If the lane condition is wet, the best idea would be to invest in a good reactive resin ball as it tends to produce the best friction. Now that you know what lane conditions are and how to combat the different patterns, let’s look at important aspects when choosing a bowling ball.
What to Look for When Choosing a Bowling Ball?
1. Cover stock
A cover stock is a material that is used in the outer layer of the ball and is used in figuring out how the ball will react to the different lane conditions. The main cover stocks are polyester, urethane and reactive resin.
Plastic cover stocks are great for bowlers who like to throw their ball straight and are not interested in hooking techniques. Plastic bowling balls are some of the cheapest on the market but they are also less effective than the other types.
Urethane or reactive resin cover stocks are perfect for a bowler who wants to learn how to hook or already does. They work better because they have better grip than the regular plastic cover stocks.
Reactive resin balls tend to have better striking potential as they roll through the oil without much hooking. They pick up the friction force only towards the bowling lane. This is called back end by bowlers.
2. Right-sized finger holes
Each bowling ball comes with three holes. One for your thumb, middle and ring finger. Try to choose a ball that will fit your fingers without feeling constrained or loose.
The hole span, the distance between the holes, must be comfortable too so that you do not strain your palm during the game. My suggestion would be for you to try out as many bowling balls as you can before picking the one that will feel the most comfortable.
3. Choose between a right-handed or left-handed ball
This is pretty straight-forward, and the only difference between the two is the span length of thumb and ring finger. Most balls at bowling centers are right-handed and a left-handed individual might need to specially request a left-handed bowling ball. Not exactly convenient, unless you have your own bowling ball.
4. The weight of the ball
The weight of the ball is dictated by the weight of its core, and the heavier it is the faster it will begin to hook. Moreover, most bowling ball developers use different core designs. I would suggest you discuss this aspect with an employee at the pro bowling shop you are going to pick a bowling ball from.
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What Bowling Cores Are There?
Bowling ball cores remain invisible yet it plays an important role in the functionality and versatility of the bowling ball. The core blocks are made in several shapes as well as sizes, thus offering different potentials of performing a successful hook maneuver.
Beginners are strongly advised to stick to the easier techniques before they gain a good control of the bowling ball and get down the hand grip. Otherwise, you risk injuring your hand in addition to performing quite badly.
A pancake bowling ball core might be a good option, if not the best, for someone who wishes to practice ball control before moving on to a more sophisticated hook technique. Furthermore, a bowling ball with a good cover stock material and a symmetrical core can offer a greater hook potential if used by a seasoned bowler.
Plus, symmetrical cores offer more possibility for a personalized hole configuration. But, they perform best with lanes that are drier in the middle.
Lastly, there is the asymmetrical core that gives the bowling ball a very varied effect on its movement potential. They tend to skid further down the lane before aggressively hooking into the break point. This makes them perfect for striking.
When compared to other core designs, an asymmetrical core with the right cover stock offers greater results even if the lane is heavily oiled. The downside is that bowling balls with asymmetrical cores are hard to drill because of their uneven shape. There is a great chance that drilling might upset the fragile weight balance that the core is intended to maintain. If this happens, you will be left with a dilemma of how to compensate this while still maintaining a good control of the ball.
In conclusion, I would like to suggest you take the necessary time to do your research. Talk to professional bowlers if you get a chance and maybe even attend a competition or two. When you go shopping for a ball, don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions. I truly hope that you will find a bowling ball that will fit you perfectly.
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