Ready to find the best bowling ball on the market?
We can send you down the right lane! We have studied all of the top bowling balls to find the perfect one for you.
Keep reading to learn about the best balls you can buy. As if that’s not enough, you will also find a handy buying guide written by experts. We even answer your most popular questions about the top brands.
Guide to fitting the bowling ball
The first thing you need to know is how to get the right fit for your bowling ball. This is never more important than when you are buying online.
Once the ball arrives, the drilling professional will measure your bowling hand. Make sure he or she is measuring the correct hand. The pro might automatically reach for your right hand, which won’t work if you are left-handed. If you are ambidextrous, you have a couple of options.
The most popular is to have the bowling ball fitted for your more dominant hand. The other choice is to buy two balls, one fitted for each. This is because it is rare that a ball will be a perfect fit for two different hands, even when both of them belong to you!
Once the drilling professional measures your hands, he or she will also do a thorough test on how your hand opens and closes. The pro will look at the distance between your thumb and your gripping fingers, also known as your hand span. Last, they will look at the shape of your hands, both splayed apart and in a clenched position. If your bowling pro doesn’t do all of these things, ask.
After the measuring is complete, your professional will drill the ball. You may be tempted to save a few dollars and do this step yourself. Please don’t!
The professionals not only have the experience and the proper equipment, they also know the measures to take to ensure the ball doesn’t crack when being drilled. When you drill at home, you run the risk of ruining a brand new ball.
After drilling, the professional will take the next step to contour each hole to fit the grip of your fingers and thumb. He or she will have you grip the ball to ensure it fits you like a glove. You should not have a lot of wiggle room with your new ball. If you do find the holes to be too loose, the drilling pro has not done their job to high standards. If you find they are too tight, the holes can always be widened.
The answer is simple! Loose holes in bowling balls may cause you to release too soon. An early release will cause your throw to be off course, giving you a poor and inconsistent performance.
Go to your local alley and try some different balls. Choose some that fit tightly around your fingers and others that are loose. Though the snug balls might be uncomfortable at first, you will find, over time, these are the best choice. You will also get so used to the feel of a snug ball that you will wonder how you ever managed to hold a loose fitting ball!
How do you hold a new ball?
Use a conventional grip. Place your fingers and thumb into each hole, all the way to the second knuckle joint. Your grip will allow your fingers to appear about midway through each hole. Your thumb should go even further. It should be completely covered by the hole, hidden away to give you a firm, solid grip.
Why hold the ball so tightly?
For the same reason you want snug holes in your ball, you need a snug, tight grip. If you hold the ball loosely in any way, you will lose control over your release. Likewise, your release will be bumpy and inconsistent if you don’t hold the ball tightly enough. A firm, tight grip lets you have complete control over the ball right up until the moment it leaves your hands.
What grips work?
League players and professional bowlers play around with their grips to find the ones that work best for any given situation. Most like to use the conventional grip for bowling. Others choose the fingertip grip. Just as it sounds, the fingertip grip utilizes only the tips of the fingers for holding onto the ball.
The thumb should still remain completely in its hole, but the others may rest only on the top knuckle. This helps you to keep the ball stable. Likewise, your palm should be nearly flat against the ball.
Even if you choose the fingertip grip, your professional driller should drill the holes of your ball as though you are using a conventional grip. This gives you the versatility to play with your grip, perfecting each one and choosing which is best for you.
Accessories for your new bowling ball
When it comes to customizing your game, you need more than a ball! There are plenty of accessories that make bowling easier and much more fun. Whether you are a pro or a recreational player, consider these accessories to go with your new ball.
- Bowling ball bags
Available in multiple sizes, weights, styles and with a variety of compartments, a bowling bag is a must for carrying your bowling ball and all of your other accessories to and from the lanes.
Before you buy a bag, think of all of the options. A small bowling ball bag might be a good choice if you’re just starting out. Once you get more serious, you might need two balls. A precision ball and a hook ball require a two bowling ball bag.
What if you’re bowling with your family? You may need a three ball bowling bag or even a four bowling ball bag.
Another option is a one ball bowling bag roller. These bags on wheels allow you to reserve your strength for when it matters!
- Bowling ball spinner
A bowling ball spinner helps you to clean, sand and polish your ball. This is not a necessity for a recreational bowler who rarely hits the lanes.
However, league bowlers will find their own bowling ball spinner to be a lifesaver as well as a game changer.
- Holder for the bowling ball
Too many bowling novices think bowling ball holders are only for display purposes at home. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Bowling ball holders should be kept in your bag for on-the-go cleaning. Placing your ball in a holder makes it easier to spin and polish your ball no matter where you are!
Types of bowling balls available
There is no shortage of the types of bowling balls available on the market. You can spend a week learning about the different types of bowling balls, but we’ll make it easy for you!
Learning about bowling balls can be broken down into cover stock and weight block.
Coverstock can be either plastic and polyester, urethane, proactive or reactive resin. The Plastic and polyester cover stock is very popular because it is low priced, easy to control and does not have a porous surface. The lack of porous surface makes it easier to maintain because it is less apt to absorb oils from lanes.
Polyester and plastic material is great for beginners, amateurs, and recreational bowlers. It may be less preferred by league players because of the lack of hook. Bowling balls with polyester and plastic cover stock have a tendency to be more precise, which is ideal for straight bowling.
However, the hard surface makes it difficult, if not impossible, to hook. Basically, if you have a split, you may be out of luck.
Urethane cover stock offers a happy medium between polyester and plastic and resin balls. The urethane creates a capacity for hook without the upkeep of resin.
However, urethane does still require upkeep and it can be a bit tricky to learn to control for the new bowler. Likewise, the price point is a bit higher than that of polyester and plastic cover stock. Many new bowlers are leery of investing in higher priced balls until they know if they are going to stick with this great new hobby.
Proactive surfaces are interesting balls. Not used by the new bowler, these balls are typically only for pros who are using highly oiled courts. They have a bit of a bumpy surface, which gives them traction on super slick surfaces. Most bowlers with proactive coverstock balls have a large number of bowling balls in their arsenal for use on multiple types of lanes.
Reactive resin is a popular choice for cover stock for both recreational and league players. These balls react directly to the bowler’s stance, technique and grip as well as the speed of the lane. They can be used as straight precision balls or can hook and curve. Generally speaking, reactive resin cover stock is a perfect choice.
On the other hand, reactive resin is much more expensive than both polyester and urethane coverstock balls. They also require more maintenance. These balls must be cleaned after every use to ensure the oils from the lane do not deteriorate the surface. They should also be regularly polished or even professionally cleaned from time to time.
The weight block is the interior of the bowling ball that gives the ball its heft. These can be broken down into symmetrical, asymmetrical and pancake weights.
Symmetrical and asymmetrical bowling balls both have two-piece weights. The substance can significantly vary, but the style is relatively similar. The main difference between these two types is the intermediate differential. In plain speak, symmetrical weights allow for smooth, clean throws.
They are more suited to recreational bowlers and those new to the game. Asymmetrical weights have offset weight distribution. These are great choices for expert bowlers who have perfected the ability to hook and curve.
Pancake weights tend to be three-piece. They have a layer of weights on the interior, usually a finished block with filler. One end of the ball tends to be heavier than the other. Pancake weights are less popular because they are not as easy to control, especially by those who seek to have an excellent game.
Conversely, they tend to be much less expensive than their counterparts. This makes a ball with a pancake weight a fine choice for children and bowlers who only want to occasionally bowl but don’t intend to make bowling a weekly hobby.
Though these are the standard bowling ball types, there are other options you might want to consider.
Used bowling balls – worth trying?
Are you new to bowling? Do you like to bowl but don’t know where to start? Are you considering the sport but uncertain if you have a future?
You might decide to begin with a used bowling ball or even those provided by the lanes. Cheap bowling balls might not be customized for you, they do let you practice before you make an investment. Luckily, there is one simple way to make any ball feel customized and avoid balls for a stroker.
Bowling ball inserts act like rings that fit inside the existing holes of pre-drilled bowling balls. These inserts let you get a great grip regardless of the size of the holes.
Though they won’t help you to have the perfect span or palm reach, they will at least give you the grip you need. These inserts can be placed in used balls that you have purchased or they can be temporarily used in bowling balls from the alley.
Custom Made Bowling Balls
The best option for all bowlers is a custom bowling ball. Only a custom bowling ball caters to your exact needs. Indeed, starting with a used bowling ball for dry lanes may even turn you off from the sport before you are able to truly experience the love of the game. A custom bowling ball lets you see exactly how great bowling can be.
What if you decide bowling isn’t for you?
While you can’t return a bowling ball after it has been customized, you do have some options. You can try to sell a bowling ball to get most of your investment back. Many pro shops offer bowling ball sales for used balls. You can also donate your bowling ball to places that need them. Bowling balls for kids, those who are impoverished, women’s shelters and more can do great good for society as a whole.
How to choose the best bowling balls for women
Picking a bowling ball for a female bowler is no different than picking a ball for men or children. The buyer simply needs to determine the weight needed for the ball.
The best way to do this, when buying online, is to go to a local bowling alley or pro shop and test different weights. Women may wish to start at about 10 pounds, and then try higher or lower until they find a comfortable fit.
Not able to get to a pro shop?
That’s okay! Most women are comfortable with 12 to 14 pound bowling balls. Choose a ball in that range and you are sure to enjoy your new ball.
Women do tend to have smaller hand sizes than men. Luckily, you won’t need to worry about that when buying a ball online. Most balls do not come pre-drilled. You buy the ball you want, and then have the holes custom drilled to fit your reach. This way, men, women and children all have balls that perfectly match their hands.
Remember also about the bowling shoes on track. There are a lot of fancy options on the market so there will be no problem even for the most sophisticated lady to choose the perfect pair.
Bowling ball weights and sizes
If you are new to bowling, you have undoubtedly recognized that there are many options when it comes to bowling ball weights.
Balls typically start at about six pounds, though you can find four pound balls for the youngest bowlers. The heaviest balls are often around 15 to 16 pounds. Again, you may find even heavier balls, though this is rare. Standard sizes are:
- Light – 4 lbs, 6 lbs, 7 lbs, 8 lbs, 11 lbs
- Medium – 12 lbs, 13 lbs, 14 lbs
- Heavy – 15 lbs and 16 lbs
The strength of the bowler directly coincides with the amount of weight he or she needs as it is one of the main factors affecting core performance. Most adults will want 12 to 14 pound balls, though those with a lower amount of upper body strength may want less. Seniors and beginners may want under 12. Children should stick to balls that are eight pounds or lighter. Don’t forget the bowling ball ramp!
Go To Bowling Ball Brands
Check these brands before you buy: Storm, Motiv, Brunswick, Lane 1, Columbia 300, Roto Grip, Hammer, Ebonite, 900 Global
Bowling ball cleaning and maintenance
Your ball can last a lifetime as long as it is properly cleaned and maintained. A few simple steps after each visit to the lanes is all it takes to have and keep a perfect ball!
- Bowling Ball Cleaner
There are plenty of brands of cleaners on the market today. Choose one that is strong enough to remove any residue and heavy oil from your ball without destroying its outer surface.
Don’t believe your bowling ball needs to be cleaned? Want to make your own cleaner?
A mixture of alcohol, water and professional cleaning fluid can work in place of a bowling ball cleaner. However, it is often easier and more economical to purchase a cleaner that has been put together for this very purpose.
- Bowling Ball Polish
Regularly polishing your bowling ball extends the life of its finish. It makes the ball glide more easily. Polish is especially important if you are looking to put a great spin on your ball!
The towels you choose for cleaning and polishing your bowling ball are a lot more important than you might think.
Pick a microfiber towel to remove all of the oil and grime from your ball without leaving behind bits of dirt and flyaways.
Terry cloth towels are known for absorbing, rather than repelling dirt. Using a terry cloth towel to clean or polish your ball may not improve its appearance or performance at all!
You need to remember to regularly clean your bowling ball towels! Most microfiber towels can be tossed into the laundry with the rest of your whites.
However, you do need to make sure to read the care instructions first. Some may need to be hand washed, washed only in cold water or even with specific detergents.
- Bowling ball cleaner machine
Once you get serious about bowling, you may want to invest in a bowling ball cleaner machine. These machines take all of the effort out of cleaning your balls. You simply place the ball in the machine, the oil is extracted and you are ready for your next game!
Many of these machines are surprisingly well priced. They also don’t have to take up a lot of room. You can find tabletop machines that are no larger than a small microwave.
Of course, you might want to go all out and get a professional grade machine. If you have the extra room and a love for the sport, go for it!
Designs for your bowling ball
Your bowling ball says a lot about your personality, so you should choose the one that reflects who you are.
Bowling balls can be simple and efficient. They can be bright and bold – having skulls, eyes or glitter on them. Some are novelty items. You can even get a bowling ball that is custom designed by you! Don’t forget to think about the outside of the bowling ball almost as much as the inside.
Bowling shoes also may have any design as long as they are functional.
The importance of a warranty
When choosing a bowling ball, be sure to know everything you can about the warranty. Your warranty should cover any manufacturing errors that become apparent for up to two or three years.
A warranty will rarely cover any damage that appears due to regular use, including dropping the ball or cracks that might appear when the holes are being drilled.
The oil from lanes seeps into the surface of your bowling ball. That oil can cause your ball to wear and degrade. It is absolutely necessary to clean your ball after every visit to the lane, even if it is not visibly dirty.
Of course! You can find shops to refinish your existing bowling ball with a design you love. You may find a bowling ball that has the perfect weight and fit, but does not have the perfect appearance. That is a problem that be somewhat easily fixed with a little time and patience.
Do not try this at home!
One big mistake some new bowlers make is trying to refinish a ball themselves. Using the wrong kind of paint, varnish, ink or other materials might not only destroy your ball, but could leave behind a horrible mess on the lane. The last thing you need is to be responsible for damages at a bowling alley while also buying a new ball!
Basically, they are all fancy and safely packed. All you need to do is unpack and drill the holes for the fingers, so prepare for it and find the place where you can do it beforehand.
Choosing the right bowling ball is something that only you can do. You must consider all of your needs, your experience, and your budget when making your choice. You also need to decide how much time and effort you are willing and able to put into maintaining your ball.
Will it be a new hobby or is bowling a lifelong passion?
We recommend starting with the ball that will bring you the most joy. That might be a ball that is fun to carry, like the Brunswick Lizard Glow Viz-A-Ball. It might the one that has the highest performance, such as the Hammer Bowling Black Widow Gold Bowling Ball. It could even be a more simplistic ball that lets you enjoy the game without any added pressure.
Our favorite is the Brunswick Tzone Deep Space Bowling Ball. This ball has just the right amount of heft to roll cleanly down the lane. It provides stability to new bowlers while also offering the ability to hook and speed for more serious players. While the Brunswick Tzone Deep Space Bowling Ball does require a bit of maintenance, it is well worth it. Buy this ball, and it is likely to be the only one you need!
Whichever ball you choose, just have fun hitting the lanes!