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Why Are Bowling Balls So Heavy?

why are bowling balls so heavy

The reason that bowling balls are so heavy is to increase accuracy when bowling, and so that the pins are hit with enough velocity to ensure they topple over. Bowling balls have a hard core made from bismuth graphite or barium, which are heavy materials.

If you’ve ever wondered why professional bowlers usually prefer to bowl with heavier balls, how to know which weight to use when you bowl, or why the weight even matters, then you’re in the right spot!

In this article we’ll cover the benefits of bowling with a heavier bowling ball, how to know when you’re using a ball that’s too heavy, and much more.

Why Are Bowling Balls Heavier?

At a typical bowling alley, you’ll find that the lightest ball is 6 pounds, and that there are various balls at weights up to 16 pounds. Normally, the balls that are 6-8 pounds are recommended for children, as they’re incredibly light.

Adults normally use bowling balls over 10 pounds. The heavier your ball, the more accurate your throw is likely to be. A smaller ball will travel faster, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing, as it means it’s more likely to veer off to one side and end up in the gutter.

Bowling balls come in different weights to account for different bowlers’ physical strength, as well as their bowling technique. Some people are fast bowlers who prefer a lighter ball in order to bowl quicker, while others prefer a heavier ball that travels slightly slower but with more precision.

They’re also designed to minimise injury. In this sense, choosing a ball that is too heavy will cause significant strain to your wrist and forearm. This can cause repetitive strain injuries and joint or muscle problems in your shoulder. In some extreme cases, bowling with a heavy ball for a long time can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which typically requires surgery to correct.

Should I Use a Heavier Bowling Ball?

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The weight of the ball you use depends on your own body weight and strength, as well as your physical health and age.

If you are physically strong and haven’t had any recent health problems or surgeries, then you should opt for a heavier ball. This will provide you with better accuracy and more chance of knocking down every pin.

However, if you’re not very strong, or you’ve recently had a surgery or a musculoskeletal problem, then you should choose a bowling ball that is a little bit on the lighter side, even if it feels unnatural to you.

Whilst bowling with accuracy is fun, it’s not worth hurting yourself for! You can still bowl well with a lighter ball, you will just have to adapt your technique to make sure your throw is accurate and fast despite not carrying the same mass (and thus momentum) as a heavier ball.

It’s also recommended that senior bowlers go for a slightly lighter ball than they might be used to, as you sadly lose physical strength and become more prone to injuries as you get older.

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How Do I Know if My Bowling Ball Is Too Heavy?

If you’re struggling to pick up your bowling ball, the thumb hole is too large, or your ball is losing momentum significantly before reaching the pins at the end of the lane, then chances are that your bowling ball is slightly too heavy.

Even if you can pick up the bowling ball, if your arm feels shaky when holding it or your wrist feels at all strained, then these are also signs that the ball is too heavy for you and that you should exchange it for a lighter one.

If you’re ever in doubt about the weight of the bowling ball that you use, especially if you’re a frequent player, then don’t be scared to head to a bowling shop or alley and ask the staff about which weight they think you should be throwing.

They can give you a number of balls to try out and measure how you perform with them based on your bowling style, preferences, hand size, and physical strength. Some will also take your weight and age into account to give you the ideal bowling ball weight.

Do Heavier Bowling Balls Curve More?

Whether heavier bowling balls curve, or ‘hook’, more seems to be a point of contention amongst the bowling community.

Ultimately, it seems that the answer is that the weight in and of itself does not directly correlate to how much a bowling ball curves or hooks. However, it is typically considered easier to ‘hook’ with a lighter bowling ball, due to the fact your arm can move more freely with a lighter weight.

There are a myriad of other factors that affect the curve or hook of a bowling ball. One is the person throwing the ball – someone who is an experienced or professional bowler is likely to better understand how to purposefully curve a ball, or how to avoid hooking a ball.

Another is the type of lanes being bowled upon. Bowling lanes require ‘oiling’, though different bowling alleys will oil their lanes differently. The lanes can also be made from different materials, and have different finishes on the wood. Each of these factors can contribute to the ‘hook’ of a ball.

Finally, while the physical mass of a bowling ball might not necessarily change how much it curves, some bowling ball manufacturers use different cores in their heavier balls than in their lighter balls, which can alter how likely a ball is to hook.

There’s also the different ‘cover stock’ on the balls, which means the material on the very outer of the ball that gives it its colour – the difference in these materials can also affect the curve of a ball.

What Weight Bowling Ball Do Pros Use?

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Professional bowlers normally use heavier balls due to their experience and fitness. Male professionals typically use 15 or 16 pound balls, while female professionals usually use 13 or 14 pound bowling balls.

Not all pros necessarily use the heaviest balls, however. Those who prefer to bowl faster sometimes opt for a slightly lighter ball. However, with the lack of accuracy typically given by a light bowling ball, the majority of professional players will use a heavy ball.

What Bowling Ball Brands Are Owned by Brunswick?

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the main reason that bowling balls are so heavy is due to the materials that their cores are composed of. However, the reason that they vary in weight is due to preference of the bowler, as well as to accommodate for the different weights and physical abilities of a bowler.

If you’re looking to find the perfect bowling ball weight, you can either try out a few sizes at your local bowling alley until one feels right, or alternatively visit a specialist bowling store where they can safely advise you on the ideal bowling ball weight for your abilities and physical strength.

To recap, here’s some of the main points to consider when thinking about the weight of a bowling ball:

  • Your physical strength
  • Your bowling style
  • Your age
  • Whether you’ve had any injuries or surgeries recently
  • How advanced you are at bowling
  • The amount of ‘hook’ you want on your bowl

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