When it comes to being a bowling beginner, one of the crucial skills you need to pick up right away is knowing how to choose a bowling ball. The right bowling ball can help you get higher scores, and that makes the game a lot more enjoyable.
On the other hand, going with an unsuitable bowling ball can lead to random throws, a lot of balls in the gutter, and generally low scores. That’s not exactly fun at all.
The good news is that the first step to learning isn’t how to pick a bowling ball really all that difficult. All you need to do is to consult our bowling ball selection guide to help you find the most suitable bowling ball for you.
Bowling Ball Buying Guide
It’s tempting sometimes to just get a bowling ball that looks super-cool. Maybe you may even want one that looked good in a movie, like the classic film The Big Lebowski.
For a newbie, that’s not really a good idea. Sure, a good-looking bowling ball is nice, and it’s great if its looks encourage you to play more.
But some other considerations are more important.
Any responsible buyer should consider price first, as you need to make sure that your bowling ball fits into your budget.
As a newbie, you may want to go with a more affordable option first. After all, you may not even wish to continue playing the game after a time. If you quit playing, at least you didn’t waste too much money.
Of course, you can’t just go with the cheapest options, since they’re likely to offer the lowest quality. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on high-end features that only professionals will appreciate. You may want to graduate from your newbie level first before you invest in a more expensive bowling ball.
In any case, stay with the good-quality bowling balls designated for newbies if you’re still a beginner.
Picking the Right Weight
When you were playing your first bowling games, you may have used the house balls which would have given you balls of different weights.
Now you may have noticed that some bowling balls were just too heavy, as they were difficult to throw and control. You may even hurt a bit afterwards.
But a bowling bowl without enough weight isn’t good for your game at all. They’re often harder to control, and in many cases it’s harder to throw them straight. Also, they may not generate enough force for the game.
So how do you choose the right weight?
One way is the simple guide when choosing a bowling ball is to go with 1 pound for every 10 pounds of your weight. So if you weigh 140 pounds, a 14-pound ball can be just right for you.
You can also try stretching your arm first, and then you can have someone hand over a bowling ball to your hand. If the bowling ball pulls you off-balance, then it’s too heavy. Continue doing this until you find the bowling ball weight that allows you to keep your balance.
Another way of picking the right bowling ball is to play with plenty of house bowling balls for a while even as you practice to improve your game. Take note of which balls are most comfortable for you and give you the best scores. Then take note of their weight—and then add 2 pounds to that weight to get your ideal bowling ball weight.
Why add 2 pounds? That’s because when you buy your own bowling ball, you’re going to have it drilled to fit your hands and fingers more precisely. The generic holes in house bowling balls usually have very short spans with huge finger holes. That usually causes people to grip the bowling ball more tightly.
With the custom finger holes in your own bowling ball, your grip will loosen up and feel more comfortable. Consequently, it feels like the ball is 2 pounds lighter. In other words, having your very own 16-pound bowling ball feels like you’re holding a 14-pound house bowling ball.
If you buy a bowling ball from a store, they may offer drilling as part of the purchase. But even if you have to pay for the service, it’s worth the expense. It’s not really costly, but it will give you more control over the ball. Also, bowling balls with customized finger holes significantly reduce the risk of injury.
Which Grip Are You Using?
Since we’ve started the topic regarding drilling your bowling ball, you’ll need to decide if the finger holes should be designed for a conventional grip or a fingertip grip.
If you put your middle and ring fingers in at about your second knuckle, while your thumb is in all the way, that’s a conventional grip.
You have a fingertip grip when your thumb also goes all the way in but your middle and ring fingers go in at just the first knuckle.
Choose the conventional grip design if your bowling ball is made with plastic or polyester.
Now with the fingertip grip, you have the option of using inserts (or not). The inserts resemble plugs that you put into the fingerholes of your bowling ball. These things come in various shapes to better fit a player, and they can come in various colors as well.
The purpose of the inserts is to give you more friction with your thumb when you release the ball. The friction enables you to put in more rotations for the bowling ball. This may be a suitable option, especially when you’re at the newbie stage of learning how to hook the ball.
The Right Coverstock
We’re talking about the material you find on the outer surface of the bowling ball. You can’t just pick a bowling ball based on the “nice” or “cool” appearance of the outer surface. Keep in mind that the material for the coverstock affects how your bowling ball reacts to certain bowling lane conditions. This will determine the amount of hook you’re able to impart on the ball.
Plastic or Polyester
If a bowling ball is a car tire, then it’s a tire that’s basically bald and without tread. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a bowling ball, especially for a newbie. Since it doesn’t have any tread, there’s no friction, so you have a greater chance of throwing the ball straight.
This type is generally quite affordable, which makes it very suitable for beginners. But plenty of pros have one too, as they’re great when the player wants to go for a spare without the oil pattern of the lane getting in the way.
This material, on the other hand, tends to give a lot of hook on the ball. The hook can occur very early in the lane, or it can come in very late.
This is great for those who want to hit the pins at an angle. With more practice, you should be able to get more strikes compared to just hitting the pins straight on.
Lots of newbies go with this type of bowling ball because learning how to throw a hook is part of the game.
The main drawback, though, is that you don’t have as much control over the ball. With an oily lane, that means you may end up with a ball that virtually goes into random directions.
Essentially, this is a specialized type of polyurethane with extra additives that leads to even greater friction. It’s no wonder that this type is the most popular coverstock option—this material for just about all mid-range and high-grade bowling balls.
However, there are three categories of reactive resin to pick from.
- Reactive Solid
This gives you a higher friction level on the oily parts of the lane.
- Reactive Pearl
The friction level on the oily parts is quite a bit lower (compared to the solid).
- Reactive Hybrid
This is a combination of the solid and pearl. This is often literally true, as one part of the coverstock will be solid while the other part is pearl. Often, these different parts have different colors.
Nowadays, you have different cores to pick from that can affect the performance of the bowling ball.
You’ll find these in most bowling balls made for newbies. They’re often easier to control while staying much straighter.
This is a bit more advanced than the pancake core, but you still get a nice even roll with great control.
This offers a bit more motion, and it helps you to get the angle you need to hit the pins.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding. The best bowling ball for you is the one that’s most comfortable for you to throw and control. That often leads to higher scores.
You may have to try out plenty of different bowling balls when learning how to choose a bowling ball. The good news is that with our guide, you may find the most suitable bowling ball for you without wasting too much time and money!