Bowling balls come in different weights, from as low as 6 pounds to as high as 16 pounds; the question is, does the weight really matters, and if it does, what weight bowling ball is the best to knock down more pins.
This article will discuss this in-depth and compare heavy and lightweight bowling balls, which will debunk the myth: Heavier balls mean more strikes. And then, in the end, I will be telling you what bowling ball is best for you, which can end up helping you in throwing more strikes.
You may buy a too heavy ball because you know other bowlers comfortably throw a heavy ball. But you should know the different advantages of different weight bowling balls, and you should know what suits you the best before using any ball or before buying, which I will discuss later in the article.
How Are Bowling Balls Made?
Before we talk more about weight, you should know about the formation of bowling balls as it becomes crucial to understand the importance of the weight of bowling balls. And no other video can explain this better than this video-
For this game in the 1960s, hard rubber balls were in use for bowling.
From the 70s, polyester balls took over as the ball of choice. Most of the ‘house balls’ in the local bowling alley are made of polyester. The urethane balls were developed in the 80s, which further grew to reactivate and proactive urethane.
It is not a simple process to make a ball suitable for bowling; many regulations need to be adhered to. Ball manufacturers end up creating many different balls for bowling.
Average Weight Of a Bowling Ball
Bowling balls usually weigh 6-16 pounds; 6-8 pounds balls are primarily used by kids who want to bowl, while most adults use the 12-16 pounds ball.
Does Bowling Ball Weight Matter?
The first thing that will be roaming in your mind about the weight of a bowling ball is, does the weight of a bowling ball makes a difference? What’s the difference between lightweight and heavy bowling ball throws? Will heavy balls knock more pins?
The bowling ball weight matters & can make a big difference, a heavy bowling ball will have more power & it can create a larger hook. Still, it is hard to control, and people using heavy balls face wrist strains often, while light bowling balls are easier to maintain and recommended for newbies.
Although the bowling ball weight does not impact revs too much, it can make a big difference in the impact/power of the shot, hooking of the ball, and controllability.
I mean balls weighing 15-16 pounds by a heavy bowling ball, and by light balls, I mean balls weighing less than 10 pounds.
There are many other pros of a heavy bowling ball and pros of a lightweight bowling ball, which I’ve discussed below.
A proper ball fits more comfortably and is easy to throw as it provides more control and power. It lowers the fatigue level of your arm and hand and lessens the possibility of you getting hurt through pulled muscles.
Too light bowling balls will bounce off the pins, and even at 16 pounds, the ball is thrown at a reasonable speed; they won’t just run the pins over without bouncing them off. There are some pros and cons of both of these.
Benefits of Heavy Bowling Balls
Some of the main benefits of heavy bowling balls are;
More Impactful Throws
A heavy bowling ball will carry much more momentum than a lightweight bowling ball as it weighs more; therefore, it will have more power and will be more impactful on the pins.
Secondly, you will only have to hit four pins, and the rest of the six pins will get knockdown by the four pins you’ll knock down. As all the inertia of the bowling ball will get transferred to the pins it hit, thus there will be a lot more chances of a strike.
Easier to Swing
Swinging a heavy ball is much easier than a lighter ball. Heavier bowling balls have more pounds per square inch, which is not the case with lighter balls.
In lightweight balls, you will need to throw them with more power to reach the momentum it needs, the more speed a ball has, whereas heavy balls can gain the high momentum quickly because of their weight, and thus the person can focus on swinging the ball more.
These balls roll with your arm and hands. If you’re maintaining a good posture while you swing the ball, it will move perfectly.
Heavier bowling balls prevent deflection from ruining your shot. This is generally the main benefit of heavy balls. They stick to the trajectory that they are going on when you let go of the ball. Also, you’ll get to increase your carry percentage for better accuracy.
Easier to Hook & Larger Hook
I don’t need to tell you the importance of a hook in bowling; without hooking your ball, you may never throw a strike. It is easier to hook a heavy bowling ball than a light bowling ball, and thus, it is also easier to have a bigger hook with heavy balls.
Heavier balls have better chances of getting a strike. With more weight, the ball contains more power, has more chances of hooking as it has more power and more hooking power, the chances of hitting a striking increase dramatically.
Drawbacks Of Heavy Bowling Balls
Though heavy balls have many pros, there are some drawbacks as well that counters all the pros.
Wrist strains and Point Pain
Carrying a 16-pound ball and throwing it with power with reasonable accuracy is not an easy task, especially when you are not that physically fit. By using a heavy bowling ball, You can feel pain in your wrist, shoulder, or elbow.
Many people get wrist strains in bowling because they use a too heavy ball which is just not suitable for their body.
This means you’ll have trouble with your ball speed and rev rate, which are quite important for a good bowler. Maintaining a proper posture can make a difference, but still, they have chances of strain. This is one of the reasons bowlers switch from light bowling balls.
As the ball is heavy, you will not be able to give it a lot of speed, and thus You’ll have less control over them; you will need to put enough strength behind them.
Also, if the ball does not carry the required speed, it will swing and will fell in the gutter. Even if you are able to control the ball, then most probably you will become the prey of the first drawback I talked about.
Benefits of Lightweight Bowling Balls
Now, let’s talk about some of the benefits of using a lightweight bowling ball.
Easy to Control
This is one of the biggest reasons people prefer lightweight bowling balls over heavier ones. They are much easier to control and not as complicated, and are also relatively fast. You can take the trajectory by flicking your arm in any direction.
As they are lightweight, they are easy for people to manage and throw the way the person wants.
Easy to Roll & Comfort
Lightweight bowling balls feel much smoother than heavy ones. and hence it is easier to roll them; they do not require much strength to compel. You don’t have to deal with an uncomfortable swing if you’re not used to bowling. Also, you don’t have to worry about joint or muscle pain.
With all the above advantages of the lightweight bowling ball, they tend to come out as more comfortable as compared to the heavyweight balling balls. You needn’t have to curve your arms as much to execute a throw. They will also fit your hands well.
You will not find any wrist strains or pain in your arms after your bowling game if you use a lightweight bowling ball in most cases because it will not put much pressure on your arms.
Good For Beginners
As mentioned, a lightweight bowling ball is easier to control, which is a very important part of bowling where beginner’s struggle, heavy balls are not easy to control, and that’s why lightweight balls are considered to be good for beginners.
First-timers should pick a lightweight bowling ball as they barely have any idea about hooks and straight shots. Therefore, they require something light to train better. These balls will allow you to control the whole process and learn the ropes in a better way.
More Adjustment Opportunities
You can make adjustments to lightweight balls; whether you want to create a sharp hook or slide it super fast to the last pin, these balls will act to every subtle movement that you make.
Drawbacks of Lightweight Bowling Balls
It is hard to achieve the perfect ball deflection with the light balls. Sometimes, even the best shots at first may turn out to be a disappointment at the end with lighter balls. They affect the pin action and therefore deflect the pin off by a greater significant percentage.
Lighter bowling balls tend to have less inertia than heavier ones. Means they will not strike many pins. the reason behind this is you don’t have the same weight behind it as heavy balls. Hence, you’ll suffer a disadvantage while playing bowling.
It is worth comparing the heavy and lightweight bowling balls, especially chosen for the first time. You can go to a local bowling center and try them both if you still can’t find the right weight ball for you.
Do Heavy Bowling Balls Roll Faster?
Heavy bowling balls do not roll faster than lightweight bowling balls; in fact, light balls roll faster than heavy bowling balls as they don’t require that much energy to roll, and hence lighter balls roll easily and faster, but there is not a huge difference.
Technically, It depends on how much friction these balls have with the surface and how long the track is. The heavier bowling ball imparts more energy as compared to the lighter ones. This is why it is easier to strike as many as pins possible.
If the external force is applied with more energy, the heavy bowling ball will eventually roll faster. However, gently pushing the ball would cause it to accelerate and continue rolling at that speed. If you’re rolling these balls uphill, you will doubtlessly roll the heavier one slower.
It should be noted that the smaller bowling ball will probably accelerate faster since it has a smaller circumference. It will get off the line quicker. But if the track is long enough, the heavy ball will catch up and win.
Does a Heavy Bowling Ball Hook More?
In general, heavier bowling balls hook more than a lighter bowling balls. It is easier to hook and make a larger hook in a heavier bowling ball because of the extra weight you get. You can manage a bigger hook at a relatively more prominent arch.
A hook is more powerful and carries more importance than a straight ball because, in a hook, the energy is fairly spread among all the pins of the pocket, while a straight shot transfers most of the energy to the headpin only and goes straight, making a few pins left standing.
However, if you start getting tired of throwing too heavy balls, you’ll have not much control over it, and you’ll not be able to give the ball much velocity, so it is suggested to stay with a weight that is comfortable for you.
Are Heavy Bowling Balls Better?
In general, the heavier the bowling ball will be, the better as a heavy ball will be more impactful, carry more power, and will have more chances of hooking than a lightweight bowling ball. The heavier ball will be able to knock down more pins when two bowling balls are thrown at the same speed.
In this scenario, the two bowling balls should have everything the same except the weight; a 16-pound ball will perform better than the 15-pound ball in this scenario, and so on.
But, it is hard to control a heavy bowling ball; you won’t be able to throw a 16-pound ball without practice or if you aren’t physically strong.
A 14-pound ball will perform way better if you are able to control the ball properly than a 16-pound ball which you aren’t able to control.
So, basically, Controlling is more important than anything else while choosing the right weight for your bowling ball.
What Bowling Ball Weight Should I Use?
Now, as you know, heavier balls perform better than lighter balls, but they are hard to control, then the question comes, what bowling ball should you be using particularly.
Most people think the best bowling ball weight that everyone should use is a 16-pound ball. But that’s not necessarily every time true.
The heaviest bowling ball that one feels comfortable with is the best bowling ball weight for a bowler. As a general rule, one should be using the ball weighing 10% of their body weight; if you weigh 160 pounds or more, he should be using a 16-pound ball because he will be able to physically use the ball comfortably.
Don’t stick to the formulae completely; it will work for most of you in the starting but experimentation is the key thing. In many cases, you may be physically fit and weigh 140 pounds, that doesn’t mean your boundaries are up to a 14-pound ball only.
I recommend using this strategy – lift any ball (12-16 pounds) and see which ball you can carry in your hands vertically comfortably, and then try to swing your hand, did the ball stayed stable? or the ball almost fell down?
If it stayed stable when you swing your hands, then it means that this is your comfortable point currently.
Now, do the same thing with every bowling ball weighing 11/12 pounds, 13 pounds, 14 pounds, 15 pounds, 16 pounds. This will hardly take 5 minutes; you can do this while waiting for your opponent.
The heaviest ball you feel comfortable with is the one.
Give 2-3 trial shots to the ball that is 1 pound more than the ball you’re comfortable with and compare each of them in which ball you performed better.
Then, you will find the best ball weight for yourself for now.
There is no shame if you find a 12-pound ball to be best for you. Would you rather like to score 160 with a 12-pound bowling ball or 110 with a 16-pound bowling ball? You will also improve, and your wrist strength will also increase gradually.
Gradually, your wrist strength will increase when you bowl 5-6 games or more (see other health benefits of bowling and how bowling will affect your body here)
So, after 4-5 bowling games, do one more experiment and start using the ball, which is 1 pound heavier than your current ball weight. See how it goes; come back to your normal ball weight if that doesn’t work for the first few shots (it means you’re still not ready for it)
Do the same thing after every ten games of bowling, and gradually you’ll get to 16 pounds.
How Do I Know If My Bowling Ball Is Too Heavy Or Too Light?
If you can hold your bowling ball in front of you for several minutes, then it is too light for you. On the contrary, if you drop the ball immediately after holding it in front of you, then it is too heavy for you.
What Weight Bowling Ball Should You Buy?
The above strategy I mentioned can work for buying, but the experimentation will take a lot of time. So,
As a general rule, If you’re planning to buy a bowling ball, the best bowling ball weight is 1 pound more than 10% of your current body weight. If you weigh 140 pounds, buy a 15 pounds ball.
What Weight Bowling Ball Should Beginners Use?
In general, Beginners should use a 12-15 pound bowling ball. One should choose a ball based on the person’s physical strength and comfortability with the ball. The heavier the ball, the better, but it will be extremely hard for you to control a heavy ball if you’re not that physically fit.
What Weight Bowling Ball Should Kids Use?
Kids should use lightweight bowling balls; kids who are less than five years old should not use a bowling ball weighing more than 6 pounds, while kids who are five years+ should use an 8-10 pounds bowling ball.
As kids are not that physically fit, so it is recommended to use the lightest bowling ball possible (6 pounds). Many times, kids are not able to bowl properly as they can’t throw a ball with enough power, and so there is another bowling system for kids; it is called bumper bowling. You can learn about it more here.
If you plan to go bumper bowling with your kid, then bumper bowling is the best solution because, with bumper bowling, your kid will enjoy bowling even more.
What Weight Bowling Ball Weight Should Women Use?
Most women will be comfortable and perform well using a 12-14-pound bowling ball, but it depends on the physical strength of the person. One should always use the heaviest bowling ball that she can throw comfortably.
Best Bowling Ball Weight For Hook
In general, the heavier the ball is, the more it will hook, so the best bowling ball weight for the hook is 16 pounds. A heavier ball will hook more easily and will also have a larger hook.
But, make sure you use the ball that you’re comfortable with; not many people can use a 16-pound bowling ball without hurting their wrists.
What Bowling Ball Weight Should Seniors Use?
Seniors should use a lightweight bowling ball as they don’t have enough strength required to throw a heavy bowling ball. 10-12 pounds is an ideal bowling ball weight for seniors.
You should pay attention to your physical well being that you can lift heavy balls or not. Throwing a heavy ball is good, but think about if you can throw it multiple times without getting hurt. In short, the weight of the bowling ball you should use depends on that you can throw it for multiple games at a time.
What Weight Bowling Ball Do Professionals Use?
Most professional bowlers use a 16-pound bowling ball, while many of them use a 15-pound bowling ball as well because of the power and hooking opportunity heavier balls give to them. While professional female bowlers usually use 13-15 pounds bowling balls as they feel comfortable using them.
The professional bowlers became comfortable using a 16-pound bowling ball after years of practice, and thus they’re able to control heavy balls so well.
Is a 14lb Bowling Ball Too Light?
For most of the new bowlers, 14lb is the right bowling ball weight. Hold the bowling ball in front of you and see if you can hold it for a few minutes; if you can, then the ball is just too light in accordance with your physical strength.
Bowling ball weight is considered to be the most common concern when choosing a bowling ball for a serious game or a match.
As a beginner, you need to learn all these above facts about bowling balls. And as a bowler, you need to understand the difference in performance between a lightweight bowling ball and a heavyweight bowling ball. These things determine your bowling experience. Use your best judgment and always look for your body’s well-being before stepping out to buy bowling balls.
Whether you choose a lightweight ball or a heavier one, try to focus on your energy first, that you can throw that ball in multiple games or not. If the bowling ball you’re using is requiring extra effort and decreasing the effectiveness of your overall play as the frames roll-on, consider choosing the lighter ones.
Also, try to focus on each motion and on perfecting your form than worrying about the ball. After all, every sport is determined by a player’s skills with the slightest alteration based on the ball.