Knock ‘Em Down: Choosing the Ideal Bowling Ball Weight

How did you choose your bowling ball weight? Was it a random choice? Did you just go with the weight your friend uses or your favorite pro bowler’s bowling ball weight?

Well, we’re here to say that choosing the perfect weight should be more than a split-second decision. Getting better at bowling is a process with lots of components, and one of the most foundational aspects is the weight of the ball itself.

A bowling ball that’s too light or heavy will have you putting all your focus on control and momentum rather than the best techniques. A ball that’s right for you will do a lot of that work for you.

Here’s our guide to choosing the perfect bowling ball weight.

Choosing a Bowling Ball Weight Based on Your Weight

The most common, but often wrong, way to guess what bowling ball weight you should choose is to go with a ball that’s 10 percent of your weight. This might be a decent starting point, but there are a couple of additional things to consider here.

First, your weight doesn’t say much about your body composition. If you’ve got a lot of muscle, you might have a better time using a heavier ball. But depending on your height and body type, you could be muscular and still get a low number on the scale.

And second, this quick rule doesn’t tell you what to do if your ‘ideal ball weight’ doesn’t exist.

What if you weigh 180 pounds? You won’t find an 18-pound ball at the bowling alley because the legal maximum is 16 pounds. For lots of bowlers, anything heavier than that could get too dangerous anyway.

You might think that people heavier than 160 pounds should go with the heaviest ball, the 16-pounder. But it comes down to your body and how much you feel comfortable carrying.

Think About Stamina

Finding the right bowling ball size isn’t about how much you can pick up. It’s about what’s best for you throughout the whole game. If you want to use a heavy ball because you think it’ll give you the power you need, you should test it out for a game, not just a few throws.

Choosing a ball that isn’t right for your stamina level will throw you off and lead to decreasing numbers as the game goes on.

How Do you Know When It’s the Wrong Weight?

If you’ve been bowling for a while and want to improve your game, one thing you can do is re-assess the bowling ball weight you’ve been using. The wrong weight can leave you with low momentum or lackluster speed.

Here’s how to tell if you should look into making a change:

Too Light

One way to tell if the ball you’ve been using is too light is that it doesn’t give you the power or momentum you’re looking for. You might handle it easily and last through multiple games with good control over the ball. But in the end, it just feels okay, not great.

What you could be missing here is resistance. A perfect bowling ball weight will push back against your hand when you throw it. This means you’ll put more energy into throwing the ball forward, so as it glides through the air, it’ll get to higher levels of momentum.

If you’re looking for a throw that can knock down the weight of lots of bowling pins at once, you’ll need a ball with a good feeling of resistance. Once you get the bowling ball weight just right, you can let your mind focus on the direction and spin of the ball rather than pure power.

And if it’s easy to do cool tricks with the ball, you might be getting a bit ahead of yourself. It can be dangerous to use a too-light ball for trick throws. Any slip or wrong move could have that ball flying through the air at something besides the bowling pins.

Too Heavy

There are a couple of ways to know if the bowling ball you’re using is too heavy. In most cases, you’ll feel it.

Does your arm feel like it’s going through excessive strain after a game of bowling? Maybe it was okay at the start but got more painful as the game went on.

Don’t take this as a sign that you should just power through to get used to a heavy ball. You can build muscle in lots of ways, but the middle of a bowling game is not ideal. It can lead to muscle strain and even injury.

How well you do in your game has a lot to do with comfort. If you feel like you’re in control of the ball, you won’t have to use up your strategy on getting through the throw itself.

Another sign that you’re using a ball that’s too heavy is that you lack speed and consistency in your throws. If you don’t have the bodily momentum to propel a heavy ball through the air, it’ll fall flat. And there’s no point in choosing a ball with a lot of resistance if you can’t match and exceed that resistance in the right way.

Don’t Follow the Pros All the Time

Lots of pro bowlers will use 16-pound balls because these will give them the most resistance and potential for momentum. And in most cases, they don’t have to worry so much about stamina because they’ve built up the right muscles and have experience using a bowling ball for long stretches of time.

But just because the pros do it doesn’t mean you should, too. If you’ve reached an advanced level and are looking for more power, then 16 pounds might indeed be a good weight for you. If you’re new to bowling and want the best weight, though, you’ll have to do a bit more thinking.

The best bowling ball weight will be different for each person. Don’t force yourself to go with a weight that’s too heavy for you because you think it’ll improve your game.

Now You’re Ready

You’ve learned how to tell if a bowling ball weight is too light or too heavy, and you’ve discovered some key tips about how to choose the best weight for your individual body. Now all you need to do is get out there and try it for yourself!

For more useful tips about bowling equipment, talk to us! We’ll be happy to answer your questions and work with you.

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