Bowling can be one of the most fun sports in the world if done right. The only problem is, like golf, so few of us do it right. We can get frustrated or downright angry when things don’t go our way on the lane. However, it doesn’t have to always be that way. No matter what type of bowler you are, there are options to help you improve your game. Getting the right bowling ball is one such way at doing that.
Finding the right ball can help make you a success at the alley, and it can take your enjoyment up a few notches. Doing this, though, is not always the easiest of tasks given today’s internet and the huge variety of choices. So, to help you figure out what you need, we have a buying guide for you today. At the end of it, we will review the top balls and also will answer any lingering questions that might be left over as well. Let’s get to it!
Top Bowling Balls Comparison Chart
|Image||Name||Level Type||Feature||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Hammer Gauntlet||Serious Players||Great on oily lanes||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|2. Brunswick Tzone Deep Space||Good for beginners||Glows in the dark||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|3. Pyramid Curse||Beginners and Intermediate players||Good for dry lane or a very heavily oiled lane||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|4. KR Strikeforce Clear Red Rose||Beginner||Kingpin inspiration||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|5. Storm Drive Hybrid||Intermediate||Durable||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|6. Columbia 300 Nitrous||Beginners and Intermediate||Small amount of hook action||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Bowling Balls Buying Guide
Specifications and Governance
The game of bowling is governed by the USBC, which stands for the United States Bowling Congress. This body is set up so that they can regulate the game in order to make it more fair across the board for everyone. They do this by setting up specifications for how the ball should be made. This makes it easier for you to go from one place to another without playing an entirely different game.
Just imagine if you traveled a few states over only to find that the bowling balls there were half the weight of yours and had no holes? That would be no good!
A few things that should be noted about a bowling are listed here. If you don’t have these things, then you don’t have a bowling bowl and you should be looking elsewhere for your ultimate purchase:
* A bowling ball cannot weigh more than 16 pounds. For one, you want something you can roll fairly easily. And for two, you don’t want someone just overpowering the pins with too much force.
* The hardness of the ball has to be a 72 and the circumference (how big it is around) has to range between 26.7 inches and 27.0 inches. This is just to make it so the game is uniform all around the country.
* A bowling ball can include up to five holes in it, with some of them serving the purpose of grip and others meant to be used for ventilation.
* The left and right sides of the ball have to be very similar in weight, or it is not a legal ball for use. The top and bottom also have to be close in weight. This is done so that you can’t spin the ball easily compared to balls that meet the specs, thus giving you an unfair advantage.
* A ball that is approved by the USBC must have the brand name clearly on it somewhere, has a serial number all to its own, and also will have the USBC logo on it to indicate that it upholds all of the standards.
Types of Bowlers
On paper, there are a lot of different types of bowlers, but in reality, there are just three main types for us to look at. There are beginners, intermediate players, and then your experts. Knowing and recognizing which one you are is just as vital to picking out the right ball as wearing the right pair of shoes to run in. By overestimating yourself, or by underestimating yourself, you can waste a lot of money and you can also throw away some added performance that you otherwise would have gotten from using a certain ball.
Beginners need a ball that, first and foremost, will not break the bank too much. When you make a list such as this one, where the most popular balls are looked at, it’s going to tend to skew toward the lower priced options. That’s good for beginners, because you do NOT want to pay too much. The reason is because it is going to be really tough for you to get the most out of an advanced ball because you are going to not be playing so well and thus putting the ball under more strain than it needs to be under.
Plastic or polyester balls are best for beginners, because they have the tendency to roll the ball straight without much or any curve on it. This totally fine when you are starting out, and this type is going to serve you best because the ball have less friction when on the lane. This means your level of consistency is going to be higher, allowing you to get the same sort of results over time and helping you improve.
Plastic balls are also good for you after you have gotten past this stage as you look to make spares because a lot of times you just want to roll it straight for those shots!
Intermediate players are those that don’t just throw in a straight line anymore, and these types usually shoot between 140 and 170 in league games. At this level, you’ll want to start being able to ‘hook’ the ball some, so you need to step up a bit to get that level of performance. Plastic and polyester isn’t ideal for this at all, so you will need to look at urethane balls. These balls have increased friction on them, allowing them to be able to move on the lane, unlike what we saw with those made from plastic or polyester.
Advanced players are those at the top end of the food chain that have already mastered a hook to a nice degree and want to take their games up a notch further. Players interested in playing in very competitive tournaments and leagues, including professional ones, will want a ball that is made of urethane but has added attributes. Chiefly, you’ll be looking for those that are paired with resin or some form of reactive resin.
This type is the most expensive, for obvious reasons, but they are not only very powerful at knocking pins over, but also well suited to being used to hook and to do other trick shots. Reactive balls are made for various different types of lanes, so they might not always work the best for the lane you are playing on, so you will have to be careful with that and not assume they will all just magically work the same.
How To Pick the Right Weight
Picking the right weight is a common issue that is brought up by most first timers, so it’s critical to look into a few things to keep in mind on the subject. For starters, you will want to go to the local bowling alley. Once there, you’ll want to try balls out for an entire game. After you have tried them out, you will need to consider how comfortably each one felt to you.
Take note of whatever is easiest for you to swing and is also comfortable, and then add a pound or two. You’ll want a little bit of extra weight to it, and it won’t hurt you too much. In general, you want as heavy a weight as possible without causing too much strain.
Also, another good rule is the 10% rule. A ball should be close to 10% of your weight. However, if you are over 160lbs, you run into problems because 16 lbs is as heavy as you’re allowed. It’s not a perfect rule by any means, but it is quite helpful and can take a lot of trouble out of the equation for you.
Some other rules to go by are pretty simple. Adults should be looking between the 12 and 15 range in most cases. Women need to be on the lighter end of the spectrum, unless they are a little bit bigger or just stronger than the average female. Teens and youth players will be best served with a ball that weighs somewhere between 10 and 12 lbs.
As you improve, you can up the weight over time. Oh, and contrary to popular opinion or seemingly common sense, it is not best or more successful for you to use a very light ball. A giant male rolling a six pound ball isn’t going to make you more likely to make a strike. That’s just not how it works!
Lanes and How They Impact Your Roll
You might not know this, but the lane’s conditions can change from one place to another, and this could be having an effect on how well you are playing the game. A lane that is ‘dry’ meaning it is well kept and clean, is going to have a totally different reaction on your ball than one that is full of oil.
Oily lanes work best in conjunction with urethane balls, while those with little amounts of dirt or oil will do just fine with plastics. Just be aware that they can change from one alley to another, so be on your toes and identify that. If you only play at one place, you will definitely want something that can be used there as it would just be a big waste to buy something intended for another type of lane.
What About Custom Holes?
If you have ever been to a bowling alley, you’ll know quite a bit about the holes they use for the ‘house’ balls (the balls that belong and stay there and are used by nearly everyone that doesn’t use their own ball). On most occasions, you’ll come to realize that the holes are very large so that they can fit virtually anyone’s finger size.
This is done intentionally as they don’t want to spend tons of money fitting each and every person. It’d be impractical and impossible to do so, after all. But did you know, there is a way to get your own custom holes that are fitted just for you, and thus to help push your game to a new level?
A lot of bowling alleys will have pro shops, and even if they don’t you can always find one to take your ball to. It’s best to have them watch you bowl, as is customary, so that they can see your playing style and then make adjustments accordingly. They will base the holes off the size of your hands and the way that you throw the ball, which will make it much easier for you to learn how to spin and hook the ball down the lane.
It’s a lot tougher to get consistency out of house balls because no two are seemingly ever quite the same, but once you move to custom holes, you start to get that incorporated into your game. It might feel strange to you at first, because you are not used to using a ball that is fitted to you. It’s going to feel tight and a little bit cumbersome and might strain you, but before long you will get the hang of it.
Many have gone to this and they have not looked back since. They just don’t want to use anything different, and it’s easy to see why. This does take the cost and drive it up a little, but it could very much be worth both your time and your money as it will help take one more variable out of the equation.
In almost all cases, the balls you buy are going to need you to take them and get holes put in them. If you do find a ball that already has holes, it might not be the best thing for you. Remember, those holes are made for the average person, and while it’s a nice way to save some money, it’s not going to fit you that well.
Unless you are an alley manager or you are just going to play once in a blue moon, you really should do yourself a favor and upgrade from that by getting one with holes that fit you and your specific needs.
Best Bowling Balls Reviews!
Though a fairly costly option, the Gauntlet from Hammer is the ideal choice for those very serious players that want a quality ball. Designed for use one lanes with heavy traces of oil, this ball will be able to hook and spin as you desire it to. It’s an upgrade over previous Hammer offerings, so it is more conducive to top tier players and their playing style because it has better maneuverability for the good player.
The ball is padded in such a way to allow it to pick up oil all over due to how dull it is, which helps it scoot down the lane to your will. Coming in 13, 14, and 15 lbs, it is a heavier ball, so that should be noted. It’s also just got one color, looking a lot like a newly discovered planet would. The ball will come without holes, so you will have to have the work done in order to be able to use it efficiently.
One other criticism levied by some is that it is not best for use every single day, so if you play very frequently, you might want to look elsewhere to get better durability, especially if the lane isn’t super oily.
- Great on oily lanes
- Moves around very well
- Good for serious players
- A little bit expensive
- Just the one color
- Not best for play everyday
Brunswick Tzone Deep Space
If you’re looking for a ball that is made by a reliable company in the bowling game, then Brunswick is one to go with. And the Tzone Deep Space is an excellent choice for those on a bit of a budget as well. Coming in a number of different colors to pick from and a plethora of weights, too, the options are nearly unlimited in regards to this offering.
The price makes this a good option for someone that is just starting out in the game as you don’t have to worry about bending your wallet too much to afford it. Another cool feature is that the ball does glow under black lights, so if that is to your fancy, then that’s a definite plus to note. The cover is laced with polyester, so it’s very much good for a beginner due to the durability as well as the fact that it will do well with straighter shots down the lane. It’s definitely a dry lane ball, but that is plenty good enough for beginners and some intermediate players, too.
Like the previous offering, however, this ball does not come with holes made in, so that will have to be done in order for you to use it properly. Another issue is that it is a little fragile compared to others. This is too be expected given the price relative to others, so just know that some cracking could occur.
- Very good price
- Good for beginners for various reasons
- Glows in the dark
- Will not hook much
- Doesn’t have hole pre made
- A little bit fragile
Pyramid is another great company in the bowling world, and it’s easy to see why with this mystical looking ball called the Curse. This ball comes in at a fairly high price, though not as high as the first offering we looked at. Sporting a two year warranty, they guarantee that it will uphold its promise to you for quite a while. Coming in weights between 13 and 16, there are some choices to move around on.
Unlike the first two offerings, this one is a good in between ball. It is best used in conjunction with medium oil conditions, but it can do decently with either a dry lane or a very heavily oiled lane. This isn’t to suggest it will be the best, but it can be adequate at that, making it versatile to use. It does hook a little bit, so people that are pretty good beginners and intermediate players would be served to use it.
Also, big time serious players might consider it in order to try and pick up spares because it won’t cut too much in relation to some others out there. Depending on technique, it will hook more or less, so just watch out for that. One thing is that it’s not super ‘strong,’ so some have found it forcing them to go for spares instead of collecting strikes.
- Versatile ball
- Good for medium oil saturation
- Allows hook experimentation
- Not the best for new players
- Not super strong so it might cause you to go for a few more spares
KR Strikeforce Clear Red Rose
It’s a little bit unconventional, but this rose-inspired ball, straight from the movie Kingpin, is sure to make any lady that loves the game of bowling happy with the looks alone. KR Strikeforce has made a good beginner ball here that is made out of polyester and will react as you’d want as you start out: with the ball moving straight down the lane.
Unlike most beginner’s balls, though, this ball is a little bit more expensive, meaning that it will last longer than most. That can be a good thing for you for sure, but it does indeed hurt the budget a little bit. It has small air bubbles inside of it, but that isn’t anything worry about as its just appearance and design and won’t hurt performance in the slightest. One major thing that might not be to your liking is that it is only available at 14 lbs, so that could be a detriment for a smaller female bowler.
It is USBC approved, though, so you will be able to play in tournaments with it if you choose to do so. Overall, it’s a nice novelty ball that isn’t just about the looks. You will have to get holes drilled into it, so it’s not exactly a plug and play option ‘out of the box.’
- Kingpin inspiration
- Polyester makes it good for beginners
- Excellent durability
- A little bit heavy and only has the one size
- Needs holes put in
- Pretty expensive
Storm Drive Hybrid
Storm is yet another of the big players in bowling balls, and it’s Drive is an example of why. This ‘hybrid’ color ball is a mix mash of colors that help it to stand out. Available at 12-16 lbs, it brings a ton of options for you to select from. The Hybrid also refers to the make up of the ball, which helps it to do well on oily lanes, and it helps the ball to be very predictable as it approaches the middle part of the lane, which is so crucial for players to have.
It is a ball that offers a lot of ability to hook, and it’s also going to be quite durable. To get all this, though, you are going to have to pony up and pay quite a large amount, the most we have seen on the list so far. But it is a strong ball that can cut and is also predictable, so it can help you up your game once your mastered most of the intermediate principles and start to move toward an advanced rank.
- Great ball for hookers
- Improves your game multiple shots over time
- Power yet predictable on the lane
- Quite a high price
- Hard to justify for beginners to use it
Columbia 300 Nitrous
If you are looking for something on the lower end of the scale in terms of price, then the 300 Nitrous is a good choice from Columbia. This ball comes in at 10-16 lbs, giving you a wide range of choices there and also has three different colors to help you stand out, all while keeping the price down quite a bit. The ball is best for use on lanes that have either low or medium amounts of oil, so it can be used by those that are beginners and also be intermediate players, increasing the versatility a lot.
That’s never a bad thing to have with a ball, that’s for sure. It does not have a ton of hook, but it does react well to players that are starting to experiment with the move, so it is ideal for that sort of play but not great for advanced players. Like all the others we’ve seen so far, you will have to have holes installed yourself. One thing that has to be said is that it takes some time to adjust to, so keep that in mind. It’s also not quite as good at getting spares because its tough to keep it straight.
- Pretty good price
- Small amount of hook action
- Good for low to medium oil levels
- Takes time and effort to adjust to
- Not going to hook enough for really good, advanced players
Conclusion And Final Bowling Balls recommendations
The internet has become our best friend and also our worst enemy in many instances nowadays. With so many options available to us, it should be easier than ever to find the best bowling balls. But unfortunately, for many, it can become a tiring experience due to having so many choices and also having a hard time deciphering what seem to be minute differences between one ball and another.
Some just give up and don’t end up buying one, others just settle for a ball. With a little bit of research and reading, however, you don’t have to be one of those people. After today, you’ll have a much better understanding of the whole process and you’ll have a few balls to take a look at as you consider your options.
For any other questions you might have, look below at our FAQ’s!
Frequently Asked Questions About Best Bowling Balls
* Why Is Bowling A Good Sport For Me?
If you are asking this question, you’re probably looking into the possibility of taking up bowling as a hobby or as your favorite sport even. Bowling is a good activity, regardless of your level of play, because it is exercise. Whether you want to admit it or not, most of us don’t get enough of that, and though bowling is fairly mellow compared to other sports, it is still a form of exercise.
It builds strength in your muscles, many of which don’t get used all that often. Both those in your arms and your legs as well. It also can help make your balance better and can even aid in flexibility. But don’t worry, you won’t be a Yoga master anytime soon just from bowling. It’s also great for all ages, so if you just want to enjoy a game that is friendly to wide swathes of people, this is the one for you.
If you have severe back or knee problems, however, it’s probably not the best sport to do. It can be tough to find an activity if you’ve got those problems, but adding stress and bending with additional weights is sure to only result in further issues for you down the line.
* How Much Will A Bowling Ball Improve My Game?
While practice is going to get you the results you are looking for more so than a ball would, a ball is going to go a long way toward making you a better bowler. Just think about the balls that are used in bowling alleys all over. They are mass produced, meaning the holes are large enough to fit anyone’s hands, virtually.
This is done so everyone can play, but it comes at a cost to you because you can’t play effectively without something that isn’t fit to you. By getting your own ball, you are much more able to be the sort of player you want to be. Even if you don’t’ choose to go with a custom ball, you will simply get better because you get used to using your own ball instead of using someone else’s. You can never develop consistency until you do this!
* What Is the History of Bowling?
Bowling, as a great deal of our modern sports, has origins that trace back a very long time. There is evidence that some form of the game was played in Ancient Egypt 5000 years ago. The Romans also did similar games, including Bocce as well, so this is a sport that has long been around. Lawn bowling became popular around the 1300s in England. By the 1800s, especially the latter portion, we started to see the game we know really take shape. That’s a short overview of how the game has evolved, but it’s clear that rolling objects has long been a past time for us humans!
* Does Price Matter That Much?
Price always matters, despite what we might think or even say. With that said, though, it really just depends on who you are. If you are a beginner, you don’t want to be spending a ton of money on a ball. Even if you get the best, most priciest ball, you aren’t going to be able to use it properly right off the bat and will end up scratching it up and ruining it in no time.
So that would be the one cautionary tale to keep in mind. The highest price isn’t always going to be your best option, so just consider what is best for your overall game, and you’ll be much happier for having done so. A decent rule to remember is that durability does improve, however, with the amount of money you spend, so if you find a ball for $30, you might want to spend $20 more to ensure that you are getting the desired amount of durability from it.
* How Do I Keep My Ball In the Best Shape Possible?
Keeping your ball in the best shape does take some work, but if you do it a little at a time, it won’t require too much extra effort and you will be glad that you did it. If you are spending a lot of money, or even just a small amount, you’re not going to want to end up wasting it by not taking care of your ball. The best way to do this is to regularly clean the ball. The dirtier the ball, the more slippery and more inconsistent it will become.
It can really start to impact your game in a negative way. Oil can cause dust and dirt to stick to it, so it is best if you clean it after each use. Don’t go all Danny Tanner, though, and clean it after each roll. That’d be a little unnecessary and excessive. Another thing that is easy to do but can get overlooked is keeping it protected. A good way to protect your ball is to use a bag to keep it safe. Without a bag, you’re going to be carrying it around in your hands more, opening up the opportunity to drop it when, for example, a door opens, or anything really.
While a bag isn’t going to guarantee its safety, it can go a very long way. It also can keep the ball relatively clean, too, reducing the amount of time you’ll have to spend cleaning the ball. If you want to get the ball a deep clean, look for ball cleaner or take it to a professional bowling shop to have it cleaned. If you are very serious, do the latter. If you just want it clean but aren’t as serious, then you can do the former. Just be careful, too much cleaning can cause the ball to get ruined!
* What Are Some Tips to Make Me Better?
While these are general, and you should research more tips on your own, as there are plenty of resources online, here are a few things to help you out:
– Make sure a ball is 10% of your overall weight. This will make sure it’s not too heavy but also not too light, either.
– Keep a strong wrist. When you pull your hand back and then forward, you need to keep your wrist straight. If you are unable to do this, you’ll have issues playing well.
– Let go of the ball near your ankles. This just promotes a better roll and will also help protect your from injuries if you are bending down too much from the back. Much like lifting something heavy, you need to bend at the knees, not at the back so you don’t put untold pressure on the wrong body parts.
* What About Looks?
Whether we want to admit it or not, looks and style are always going to be a pivotal part of our choice, much like with the total dollar amount. A guy might find an awesome ball that’s just perfect, but if it’s pink, he probably will not end up wanting to use or buy it. Most companies offer a wide range of choices, so you shouldn’t end up being too upset by the options that you have. High gloss balls are your best bet because those remain shiny over time much better than other types.
* What Other Equipment Might I Want/Need?
A serious bowler will also want to buy a couple of other things, or should want to at least. One of those things would be a bag to keep their ball in. This has been mentioned before, but it can save you a heck of a lot of trouble over time with cleaning and also worrying about it getting busted open.
Another nice thing to have would be bowling shoes. Some people are just a little creeped out by wearing the same shoes as someone else, so if this is you then you can mitigate that by simply buying your own. You’ll be paying for them one way or another, so it’s best to just make it cheaper over the long run and buy your own.