If you ever went bowling as a little kid, you probably roamed around the back of the alleys searching for a bowling ball. You stuck your fingers into one after another until you found one that fit and wasn't too heavy and said "This is fine". And then off you went to roll your game. Well, if you're going to have the best chance of becoming a decent bowler, the days of popping a ball of the rear racks isn't going to do it. You're going to need a ball that fits your hands and the kind of lanes that you're going to bowl on. Most likely, you're going to need more than one.

If you're shaking your head right now saying "Are you kidding?" then you better think again. The truth is, there is no one bowling ball that is going to be effective on all lane conditions. But first, you have to make sure you get a ball that fits correctly.

Most bowling alleys will have a pro shop on the premises with a person running it who, hopefully, knows what he is doing. Once you go in, the first thing he will do is measure your hand with special instruments. This will give him a perfect measure of your finger span. Then he will measure the size of each finger that you will use to place in the bowling ball, which are you thumb, middle and ring finger.


After the measurements are done, he'll ask you what type of ball you want. If you're serious about your game, you'll tell him you want one ball for oily lanes and another for dry lanes. The reason for this is because on oily lanes the ball doesn't hook as much and may actually have a tendency to skid. You want a ball that will grip these kind of lanes or one that is very soft.

Bowling balls come in degrees of hardness. A very hard bowling ball, good for dry lanes will have a hardness of as much as 90 or more. A very soft bowling ball, which we mentioned is good for oily lanes may have a hardness of about 70 or even less. And of course there are balls with hardness factors in between those numbers. Many professionals will have 3 bowling balls, one of hardness 70, another of hardness 80 to 82 and another of hardness 90. This way he can handle all types of lane conditions.


Aside from hardness factor, bowling balls are also made of different substances. The most common are rubber, plastic and polyurethane. Each one behaves a little differently based on the lane conditions. For example, a soft rubber ball of hardness 70 will grip the lane a little better than a soft plastic ball of hardness 70. Yes, the game of bowling, when it comes to bowling balls, can be quite complex.

When choosing a ball, if you can only afford 1, think about the lane conditions of the bowling alley you most frequent and pick a ball that is most suited for those lanes. For an all around all purpose bowling ball, you'll probably want to go with a rubber ball of hardness around 80 to 82.

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