Three best bowling balls
Despite the bad lighting, soggy fries, and squeaky shoes that have been worn by more people that you'd care to think about, bowling is one of the nation's favorite pastimes. If you're a keen bowler who can't wait to hit the lanes after work, you might find yourself limited by using the bowling alley's balls. Buying your own bowling ball could help you up your game.
Now you just have to figure out which bowling ball is right for you. Not sure where to start? We've written this short but sweet guide to help you make the right purchase.
Considerations when choosing bowling balls
Do you really need your own bowling ball?
First, decide whether you need your own ball. It might not be necessary if you only bowl a few times a year, but you'll find a range of benefits to owning a bowling ball. The right ball can help you improve your game, but that's not all. It's also more convenient than spending time finding a halfway decent ball when you get to the alley. Not to mention that it's more hygienic to use your own ball than one that's had hundreds of other people's fingers in it.
What weight bowling ball do you require?
If you don't already know the ideal ball weight for you, figure this out before you buy! Ultimately, the right weight bowling ball is one that feels comfortable to use. If in doubt, try some out at your local lanes. Here are some general guidelines:
Children's bowling balls weigh between 6 and 10 pounds.
Teenagers' bowling balls weigh between 10 and 14 pounds.
Adult women's bowling balls weigh between 12 and 14 pounds.
Adult men's bowling balls weigh between 14 and 16 pounds.
Do you want a bowling ball made with two-piece or three-piece construction?
Two-piece bowling balls consist of a weighted core surrounded by a coverstock.
Three-piece bowling balls consist of a smaller weighted core and a filler material inside a coverstock. The top is slightly heavier than the bottom, which gives the three-piece balls superior balance. These are generally considered better than their two-piece counterparts, but other factors are at play, so we wouldn't rule out a two-piece bowling ball if we tried it and liked it.
Bowling ball features
Coverstock material: Common materials for beginner and intermediate balls include urethane and polyester. High-end bowling balls usually have a reactive resin coverstock, which may be reactive solid, reactive pearl, or reactive hybrid.
Core type: Pancake cores are common in basic bowling balls, but serious bowlers may not be satisfied with their performance. Symmetrical cores give a ball an even movement, which some bowlers love, but others dislike because it's harder to make unorthodox shots. Asymmetrical cores are harder to control, especially for novice players, but can give excellent spin and overall performance if you know what you're doing.
Bowling ball prices: Expect to pay around $40 to $80 for a basic bowling ball. Mid-range models suitable for recreational or competitive use cost around $100 to $150. High-end bowling balls good enough for professional use cost roughly $150 to $250.
Q. How can I keep my bowling ball in good condition?
A. Bowling balls can pick up oil from the lane, which can ultimately soak in and affect your ball's performance. Before putting your ball away, spray it with a bowling ball cleaning solution and wipe it down.
Q. What's a good first bowling ball for beginners?
A. While high-end bowling balls are great for advanced bowlers, beginners need a ball that's easier to use and more predictable. We'd also advise against spending too much on a first ball, so go for a basic bowling ball with a polyester coverstock.
Q. Will owning my own bowling ball improve my game?
A. While a good bowler should be good whatever ball they use, you'll generally find that you perform more consistently when using your own ball. You'll get used to all its quirks, which should make it easier to bowl that perfect game.
Bowling balls we recommend
Best of the best: Hammer Black Widow Legend Bowling Ball
Our take: This versatile ball performs well enough to use in your local bowling league, but it's equally great for recreational use.
What we like: We love that it hooks easily and delivers excellent drive. Suitable for use on all kinds of lane conditions. Exceptional hybrid coverstock.
What we dislike: Beginners may find it hard to control.
Best bang for your buck: Nitrous Bowling Ball
Our take: While it might not stand up to heavy competitive use, this affordable ball is an excellent all-rounder that shouldn't be overlooked.
What we like: Stands out for its stellar hook and back-end performance. A versatile ball that can work for bowlers of almost any skill level or technique type.
What we dislike: Not enough grip for well-oiled lanes.
Choice 3: Storm Timeless Bowling Ball
Our take: If you're a competitive bowler looking for a killer ball, look no further, but novices beware!
What we like: The dual drive core can produce highly impressive drive, if you've got the right technique. Combined with the superior R2S coverstock, this gives you a fast-revving ball.
What we dislike: Not the easiest ball to control.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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