The truth is that that having the best bowling ball can make the entire game different. A ball that’s too light or too heavy, or even designed the wrong way for your style of bowling, can make the difference between a strike and a gutter ball. Bowling balls aren’t like baseballs – they’re very personal. Physics comes into play just as much as your personal skill level.
I’ve been through dozens of bowling balls, and I’ve noticed some remarkable differences. I never thought I was a bad bowler, but it’s amazing how much better I can be when I use a great bowling ball. Where I thought I lacked in skills turned to be mostly the fault of the subpar equipment I was using, and if you’ve ever questioned your ability to bowl, you might find that you’re facing the same scenario.
There are a lot of statistical and skill-based factors that go into which bowling ball is going to work the best for you, but it all starts with selecting a great make and model of the ball with variants that will accommodate your needs. Out of all of the bowling balls I own, I find that these are the best bowling balls that I wouldn’t want to hit the lanes without.
Best Bowling Balls of 2018
Big Hitting Power
|Gas Mask Core||Handles any amount of oil|
|Columbia||Nitrous||Polished 500/2000 Abralon|
|Brunswick||Light Bulb||R-16 Reactive Coverstock|
Crown Factory Shine
|Ebonite||Cyclone Torq||Length with Strong Backend|
GB 10.7 Coverstock
Storm – Best Bowling Ball Brand
He won the World Series of Bowling twice, in both the Chameleon Championship and the Shark Championship.
If anybody is going to know how to design a ball, it’s this guy.
I’m really impressed with it. The ball itself is beautiful. It looks like a galaxy or a planet.
It comes in 5 weights from 12 to 16 pounds. I personally use the 15-pound ball.
The 14, 15, and 16 pound balls integrate a dual drive core. The dual drive is a weighted block inside of another weighted block.
What it essentially does is help the ball rev faster and hit the pins harder. It really knocks the pins, and that maximization of energy allows you to use the pins to your advantage.
There are a few times where I swear I was able to get every pin down just because of that energy jolting them into each other, rather than my actual aim getting the job done.
I was able to figure out exactly where to stand and exactly how to move to improve my game, and the Storm Timeless never let me down. This is one of the most reliable balls that I own.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bowled with this ball. I always bring it with me, even if I plan to try another ball.
I know this one will work if my original choice doesn’t – it’s really that dependable. The fact that it was designed with a champion should tell you something.
I feel like a champion when I bowl with it, and undoubtedly, you will too. You really need to try it to believe it.
Hammer – Best Bowling Ball on the Market
You don’t usually get to see what the core of a ball looks like, but Hammer is really proud of what they invented here. I was baffled the first time I saw the thing – it really does look like a gas mask.
The theory behind it seemed confusing to me, and I bought this ball specifically to see what this core design makes the ball do.
As weird as it seems, I really am a believer in this core. This is a heavy ball, and it’s designed for heavier and longer lanes.
You know where and when it’s going to go, and that predictability makes me look like a genius when I bowl.
I had this ball drilled by the same professional who drills all of my other balls. This is the only one he’s asked questions about.
He wanted to try it because he said he’s never felt anything like it. I invited him out with me one afternoon and he loved it just as much as I did.
This ball is absolutely aggressive. It comes in weights 12 through 16 pounds, so most people will be covered within the range.
It only ones in one black and blue marbled finish, which is nice, but it’s very common. I like to be able to know which ball is mine from a distance and at a glance, and I would need to look for the Dark Legend spider to know this was mine at the ball return.
That’s the only disappointing thing I can think of, and it’s relatively minor. The performance is what matters the most.
The core of this ball is more than a gimmick. It’s a functional internal design advantage that I mastered relatively quickly.
This is the perfect ball for someone who needs that strong hook. It’s great for serious and seasoned bowlers, and it’s also great for people who are looking to develop a strong hook technique.
Even though it’s so unique, I think a beginner could learn a thing or two just from using it. If you have high aspirations and want to expand your bag of tricks, you’re going to love this bowling ball.
Columbia – Best Bowling Ball for a Stroker
I didn’t have high expectations based on the budget-friendly deal, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
I mentor young bowlers in my community as a way of giving back. I purchased this ball for a youth bowler, and I was drawn to it because it’s one of few great bowling balls that comes in a ten-pound size. The weight range is incredible.
When I was teaching the bowler, I was using the ball to demonstrate what to do and I quickly realized that it was actually great – not just for a beginner, but for any casual bowler who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a pro-style ball.
This is definitely a reactive ball, and the hook isn’t really strong. It’s very slight, and predictable on dry lanes.
It’s great for someone who is a literal straight shooter – it’s not going to do anything incredible, and it will only subtly deviate while it’s rolling down the lane.
It has surprisingly great back-end energy. It packs the same punch that a lot of my heavier, more expensive bowling balls do.
It goes above and beyond what you would expect it to do because it’s so well made.
This is the ideal everyday family-friendly bowling ball. If you like to go bowling once a month with your spouse and your children, everyone will be able to get one of these in the right size.
They’re perfect for anyone who wants to practice the ins and outs without having to figure out how to work with a fancy core. The nitrous core works perfectly well.
This ball isn’t over the top, and sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. This is my top choice for youth bowlers and people who are just learning to bowl.
Brunswick – Best Bowling Ball for Dry Lanes
In my experiences, bowling balls are designed to either hook a lot or not hook at all. He said that the lightbulb core in his Brunswick Rhino gave him the same happy medium I was looking for.
I took it to the bowling alley to see what it could do, and initially, I thought I didn’t like it. After I messed around with it for a while, I realized that it was because I was so accustomed to throwing a ball with a hard hooking core.
You don’t need to strategize as much when you use this one – if you relax and let the ball work its magic, it’s fairly intuitive.
It seems to work with my natural movements, and I don’t need to be calculating and stuck in thought for the whole game. I can see gentle bowlers having a great time (and a lot of luck) with a ball exactly like this one.
It’s that light bulb core that gives it the perfect amount of hook that ultimately removes all of the guesswork.
I can also see this ball as being perfect to teach someone how to hook a ball. Because the hook is so slight and predictable, it could give a learner a really good idea of how to play to a ball’s strength.
I’ve used it to fine tune my bowling motor skills, so to speak. It helps me remember to be gentle instead of getting overzealous when I’m eager to win and want to throw my fury behind the ball.
This is somewhere exactly between an entry level ball and a pro ball, and it’s priced very reasonably for what you’re getting. This is a ball you can grow with, and you can easily use it to develop or perfect your skills.
I love this ball for casual bowling days where I’m just trying to clear my head and blow off a little steam. It doesn’t require a lot of brainpower to figure out, and you don’t need to make sure you’re rigidly repeating the same motions over and over again to get the ball to work how you want it to work. It all happens naturally.
Ebonite – Best Bowling Ball for Beginners
He was a new bowler, but he seemed to really love it. Since it was so affordable, I figured it was worth giving this ball a shot.
I really love the gold swirly finish – it reminds me of the inside of a mollusk shell and it makes the ball look a lot more expensive than it actually is.
I had expected it to be a urethane ball, and it wasn’t. The coverstock is reactive resin, which gives the ball great movement.
It’s perfect for drier lanes, but I wouldn’t use it on super oiled lanes because of the resin – it would be a little too unpredictable with all of the slip and slide. On a dry to lightly oiled lane, it moves exactly the way you would expect it to move.
The cyclone torque core is strange looking – it almost looks like a duck with its beak open. I wasn’t sure I quite understood the science behind it until I used it.
It’s a very smooth ball. It’s definitely a medium ball, and everyone should have a great medium in their collection.
It retains a lot of energy, and it delivers it exactly when and where you need it.
The only thing I’m not sure about is the weights – though it comes in the full spectrum of 10 to 16 pounds, I felt like mine was just a tad bit heavier than it was supposed to be.
The Cyclone has become somewhat iconic with amateur bowlers who are looking to get a little better. I’m a fairly decent bowler, and I find it works perfectly. It’s far from the most expensive ball that Ebonite makes, but it still boasts the quality they’re known for.
It’s one of my favorite bowling balls to use on dry lanes, and it’s never let me down. I highly suggest that people who frequently bowl on dry lanes carry this ball with them.
I’m probably not good enough at bowling to attempt to make it a career, but I take things very seriously with my bowling league. I love to go out to the lanes, and I love to win. Every time I blamed my ball when things weren’t going my way, the guys used to laugh it off. I proved them wrong when I showed them just how much of a difference the best bowling ball can make.
Picking a bowling ball is very personal. It’s kind of like buying a nice suit. The right bowling ball will fit you, and you’ll be comfortable using it. The conditions in which you bowl also affect the kind of ball you should use. Your skill level might also come into play, because balls designed for pros may be perplexing for beginners. Finding the perfect ball requires calculating all of the factors that affect the way you play. It’s a little different for everyone.
Do The Balls Come With Holes in Them?
Some generic bowling balls will come pre-drilled. They’ll have a standard configuration of holes in them, and you need to learn to love them for what they are.
It’s the same thing as when you rent a ball from the bowling alley – they were made to use, but they weren’t made specifically for you.
When you buy a decent ball, it usually won’t come pre-drilled. You’ll need to take it to a pro who will drill it for you.
The bottom line is that you can’t utilize the maximum potential of a ball unless it’s made to fit your hand. Some of my bowling buddies have the same exact ball that I have, but we don’t do well using each other’s bowling balls because of the way they’re drilled.
It might cost a little more money to purchase a ball that hasn’t been drilled and then pay to have it drilled, but it’s worth it in the end to have a ball that’s been tailored specifically for you. The fit is crucial to the way your ball will work for you.
What Weight Do I Need?
Obviously, youth bowlers will need lighter bowling balls. A child couldn’t properly handle a 16-pound ball, and even a 10-pound ball could be slightly difficult.
For adults, the process is a little bit different. The higher the weight of the ball, the more control you have over it.
They’re heavier, and gravity will help you out a little bit. Because they’re heavier, they’re also kind of more difficult to use. It’s a tradeoff you have to make.
If you aren’t sure, don’t go for the heaviest ball right away. Try a few out at your local bowling alley until you find one that feels right.
When you go to buy your own, you’ll have a good idea as to what kind of weight is going to work out best for you.
What Is A Coverstock?
A coverstock is the actual part of the ball you can touch. It’s the outer layer, and it’s what’s going to make contact with the lane when you bowl the ball.
When you buy a cheap ball, the coverstock is probably polyester or plastic. Those kinds of balls just slide and slide. They keep costs low, but they’re a little harder to control.
There are also urethane coverstocks, which used to show up all over the place. These work very similarly to plastic coverstocks, but since the plastic is less expensive and provides a similar effect, a lot of bowling ball manufacturers stopped using it.
Most great balls have a reactive resin coverstock. That sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.
It’s just a tiny bit of grip, but it counts for a lot when you’re throwing something heavy and letting it roll a long distance.
What Is Hook and Why Is It Important?
The hook is the curve. Even if you’ve never bowled before, you’ve probably heard the term “curveball”.
Balls that don’t have a lot of hooks will gradually roll down the lane, sometimes straight and sometimes diagonally. When a ball has hook potential, it’s going to curve a little harder as it goes.
If you aren’t really sure what you’re doing, you want something with a minimal hook or no hook at all. You need to first be able to master the way you move and get comfortable sending the ball in a straight line.
As you become more experienced, the hook will come into play.
You’ll need to learn the specific way the ball moves, as well as the way the friction of the lane will affect the ball before you can determine exactly what you need to do to get a near perfect shot every time. It’s definitely a process.
The Difference in Ball Speed
There are slow, medium, and fast bowling speeds. Certain balls are designed more for certain speeds, so you’ll want to find a ball that accommodates the way that you personally like to bowl, rather than getting a ball and trying to adapt to its potential.
When you bowl at a slow speed, the ball is going to have less energy by the time it meets the pins. This means it won’t have that big of an impact because it’s only going to keep getting slower towards the end.
You’ll wind up with a bump, rather than a hard knock that will send the pins flying.
People who bowl at a medium speed have a little more control. These are people who prefer to use a variety of techniques and are easily able to adapt to their environments.
People who bowl fast will want a lower friction ball. These people count on the force upon impact to help them get the pins down.
If you release the ball quickly and let it fly down the lane, it’s going to collide in a powerful way. A lot of bowlers with a wealth of experience are comfortable with speed bowling because of the awareness they’ve developed between the speed of the ball and the way it will connect at the end.
What Are Lane Conditions?
There are long lanes and short lanes, and they’re all oiled differently.
Well oiled lanes produce less friction – kind of like putting butter in a nonstick pan.
Whatever you’re frying will slide around freely, and it can be hard to keep it still. Dry lanes produce the most friction, which might slow down your ball or keep it from moving the way you’d like it to.
Short lanes are perfect for beginners. The ball has less time to deviate or be affected by the actual lane itself since it’s only traveling for a short time.
Longer lanes are a little harder because that extra distance allows for deviation. Anything can happen, and you need to have a very good grasp on how your ball works before you can play a great game on a long lane.
The Difference in Core Types
Every bowling company creates different cores. Some of them are simple, and some of them are really complicated.
They can be a little confusing to look at. Simple, symmetrical cores are great for people who aren’t trying to do anything tricky.
Those cores won’t compel a ball to move in a certain way – all of the control is up to the bowler.
These kinds of cores are better for experienced bowlers who know exactly what they’re trying to do. You need to learn to use these balls because it’s almost never intuitive.
When I started using asymmetrical core balls, I hated them at first. I completely missed the point because they seemed to be impossible to control.
Once I got a handle on them, I really liked them. I learned to design my strategy around what the ball was going to do, rather than creating a strategy and hoping the ball would help.
I found that I did better when I mastered the ball’s specialties.
While there are dozens of factors that go into determining what the best bowling ball might be, I’ve bowled countless ways on countless lanes and I’ve found that at the end of the day, some balls just perform better than others. These are the best performers in my collection, and I love them all for different reasons.
A serious bowler will need different balls for different challenges, and it helps to build a versatile collection. Buy three or four, master them all, and you’ll find that you can do just about anything.