How To Choose The Correct Bowling Ball Weight

How Important Is Bowling Ball Weight?

I’m getting a new ball but don’t know how to choose the correct bowling ball weight? This question has probably entered your mind more than once when searching a new How To Choose The Correct Bowling Ball Weight For Your Body And Styleball. Maybe you’re looking to get into the sport of bowling. Maybe you’re looking to get more serious and want to take your game to the next level. Or maybe you’re tired of using the alley balls. No matter the case, you’re looking to buy a bowling ball and need to know how to choose the right bowling ball weight for you. Did you know that all 10 pins weigh a total of 32 pounds? That’s a lot of mass to knock down. So you’re going to need the right combination of speed and mass of the ball to get some strikes consistently.

Physics – Master Of The Universe

Ultimately, it comes down to physics which says that the total amount of energy of the ball is equal to mass times velocity squared. This means you can send more energy into those pins by throwing the ball faster, and lighter balls move faster. However, there is also a safety and control issue with throwing bowling balls too fast. When you throw a ball too fast you lose a lot of the control over the ball, this means your technique will be inconsistent. Likewise, a fast ball sends the pins flying which can be dangerous and against the rules in most alleys.

If you’re asking yourself, “Does bowling ball weight matter?” the answer is an absolute yes! This article will attempt to get you as close to possible to the ideal bowling ball weight for you. But keep in mind that the information below is general, so if the bowling ball hurts to throw, get a lighter ball. If you’re throwing it too fast or can’t control it then maybe go up a pound.

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How To Choose The Correct Bowling Ball Weight For Children

You’ve probably heard the common rule about how to choose the right bowling ball weight for kids, “The ball weight should be the same as the child’s age up until about 10 years old.” This serves as a great starting point. If your kid is 8 start them off with an 8 pound ball, if 10 give them a 10 pound ball. Let them swing it back and forth a few times slowly and see how they feel. If they aren’t able to get the full swing motion, then the bowling ball is probably too heavy for your child – find a ball that is one pound lighter. If they are hurling that thing around like a toy then try adding a pound. Another general principle is that girls will go down one pound and athletic boys will go up one pound from their age.

Choosing The Correct Bowling Ball Weight For Adults

Similar to kids there is a guiding principle that will help you determine where to start when finding the right bowling ball weight for adults. That is to divide your body weight (in pounds) by 11. So for example if you weigh 150 lbs then 150/11 = 13.6. If you’re a male try starting out with a 14 pound ball, if a woman then start with a 13 pound ball. Similar to with kids swing it back and forth in your arms a few times like a pendulum and see how that feels. You’ll know the bowling ball is too heavy if you’re unable to fully extend your arm or you do so strained.

As another general rule, if you’ve already determined the weight of ball that works best for you by using alley balls you’ll likely want to add a pound when buying your own ball. This is due to the fact that when you get the holes drilled for your hand it will give you additional grip and control that you don’t get on the generic house balls.

Choosing The Correct Bowling Ball Weight For Seniors

As we age our muscles slowly deteriorate and we can’t do all the same things that we used to or at the level that we used to. When looking at how to choose the correct bowling ball weight for seniors the same rule of dividing by 11 applies to get a starting point. However, after you have that starting number you’ll generally want to subtract 1-2 pounds based on your level of fitness. Keep in mind that a lighter ball is going to be easier on the joints and you’ll have the ability to send more energy into the ball on your swing and ultimately into those pins – so if the ball you have is hurting you try a lighter ball.

Other Factors To Consider When Choosing A Ball

Weight is only one factor in the equation of determining your final performance. A properly weighted bowling ball will help you get the ball down the lane with enough energy to knock down all of the pins. Once you know the correct bowling ball weight for your body and style you can look into other factors that will help you increase your overall ability. These include things like choosing the correct core for your bowling ball (asymmetrical, symmetrical, large, small), choosing the right bowling ball coverstock, and drilling the holes to your hand and throwing style.

Now that you know what the best bowling ball weight is for you why don’t you throw off everyone at the alley with this basketball bowling ball that comes in weights from 10-16lbs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Weight Range Of Bowling Ball Should I Use?

Here are some general rules to help you determine if you are in the normal range:
Kids: The best bowling ball weight for kids is usually 6 – 10 lbs
Women: The best bowling ball weight for women is usually 11 – 14 lbs
Men: The best bowling ball weight for men is usually 13 – 16 lbs
Seniors: The best bowling ball weight for seniors is usually 10 – 14 lbs

What Weight Bowling Ball Do Most Pros Use?

Because professional bowlers are professional athletes their bodies are fine tuned for the sport they play. As such, when you look at the weight of the balls used by the pros they are usually towards the upper end of the weight range for their age and gender. So male professional bowlers typically use 15 or 16 pound balls and female professional bowlers usually use anywhere from 13 to even 15 pound balls.

Can You Add Weight To A Bowling Ball?

While there are ways to add static weights to a bowling ball most pro shops won’t do this for you. This is because it will bring the ball outside of the regulations of the USBC. You can however, drill balance holes that will reduce the weight on part of the ball. This in turn, affects the overall spin of the ball. Just like with adding static weights there are rules for leagues and bowling associations that dictate where on the ball and how much material can be removed. For specifics as they relate to your bowling ball the best bet is to check with your local pro shop.

Which Is Better For A Bowling Ball: Weight Or Speed?

As mentioned in the top of this article weight isn’t the only factor in determining your ability to knock all of the pins down. The simple answer of using a heavy ball is whether or not you’re going to be able to throw a 16 pound ball for ten frames and over the course of multiple games. If you can then that is impressive. However, you may still find that if you drop the weight of the ball by one pound from your maximum comfortable weight you’ll actually have more control and will send the ball with more speed. Because energy is E = 1/2 mv^2 you’ll find that adding a little more speed down the lane drastically increases the total energy delivered to the pins. Now let’s crunch the numbers to visualize this:


Here we assume that the player can throw a 10 pound ball at a speed of 10 units per second. We’re not going to use miles per hour or any real units because it illustrates the same point. Using the equation for momentum (p = mv) or momentum is equal to the mass times the velocity. So we find that this player can throw with a momentum of 100. We use this momentum in the equation to find the speed that each legal ball weight can be thrown. Then, plugging the speed back into the equation for energy (1/2 mv^2) we find the energy for each ball.

A Quick Analysis

What you’ll see here from the results is that the heavier the ball the less energy the player can give to the ball and thus to knock over the pins. And I know what you’re thinking, “I’ll just start throwing a 6 lb ball and I’ll strike every time!” While it is true that you will be able to give the most energy to a 6 lb ball what you lose is control. So hurling a 6 lb ball with nearly 3 times the energy of a 16 lb ball may sound like a good idea, but it makes hook almost impossible and getting the ball right into the pocket. Also, you’ll end of getting a lot of gutter balls. Lastly, the crack of the pins behind a 6 lb ball will sound exciting and will definitely turn some heads – particularly the heads of the bowling alley staff. This is likely against league, tournament , and bowling alley rules because at a certain point it is a safety concern.

The takeaway here is that you don’t always want to throw the heaviest ball you can because you’ll sacrifice stamina over several games, as well as you won’t be able to send as much energy down the lane. So find that sweet spot for you and don’t feel pressured to use the absolute heaviest ball you can muster.

Final Takeaways

You can see a nice recap here:

What do you think about the weight of your ball? Do you try to throw the heaviest ball to impress your friends? Do you throw a lighter ball to hear the thunderous crack of the pins? What did we miss in explaining how to choose the correct bowling ball weight? Let us know in the comments below.

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