Let’s get something out of the way: Use the heaviest ball that you can realistically handle throwing.
The best bowling ball weight is different from person to person.
If you can stay accurate, avoid pain, and control your shot, heavier is better. Heavier bowling balls drive more energy through the pins rather than deflecting off of them.
That’s the short sweet answer, but let’s dive into the details.
Is a heavier bowling ball better?
Bowling balls are typically made up to 16lbs, and in general, a heavier bowling ball is better. But, you have to be honest about what you can and can’t handle.
Heavier balls carry more energy and have more potential to get chaotic pin action. But you have to balance the benefits of heavier balls with the added risk of injury.
Bowling is a very repetitive sport which means overuse injuries are extremely common. Shoulders, wrists, elbows, fingers, knees, hips. Nearly every part of your body is susceptible to these injuries. Using a ball that is too heavy will increase the likelihood of these injuries so you have to be honest with yourself.
Do you think your joints are susceptible to injury?
Is adding a few pins to your average worth the risk of injury? For most people, it is.
Personally, I’ve used a 15lb ball since I started bowling, and it has caused a few issues over the years. I’ve had to take breaks, do physical therapy, and more. For me, it’s all been worth it so I can keep a bit higher average.
At the end of the day, you need to weigh your options and make that decision for yourself.
How do you know if a bowling ball is too heavy?
There are two main symptoms of using a ball that’s too heavy.
1. If you have consistency/accuracy issues.
Using heavier balls can give you more pin action, but it can be harder to be consistent and accurate. It requires more strength and finesse to accurately throw a heavy ball.
Again, there’s a balance you need to find. Heavy enough to get good pin action, and light enough that you can easily control the ball.
2. If you get any pain while bowling
A bit of muscle soreness after bowling can be normal, but typically if you have any pain while bowling you either have a form issue or a ball that is too heavy.
Wrist and/or shoulder pain are common signs that your ball is too heavy.
If you have any pain it may be worth trying a ball that is a pound or two lower than your current ball.
What weight do pro bowlers use?
Almost all bowlers use 15lb balls. What’s interesting is that bowling ball manufacturers make balls up to 16lbs. Heavier is almost always better, but this can change once you get to 16lbs.
So why don’t the pros use 16lb bowling balls?
16lb balls can carry too much energy and pins fly over each other rather than into each other. The pin action is too violent and chaotic. The pin action becomes less predictable, and a seemingly perfect shot will leave pins standing. To be honest, it’s a pretty crazy thing to see pins literally fly over each other, and it’s something you rarely see with 15lb bowling balls.
There are a lot of pros who throw 16, but it seems that 15 is pretty standard nowadays.
Is there an ideal bowling ball weight?
15lbs seems to be the absolute sweet spot for bowling ball performance. If you can handle 15lbs then you absolutely should throw it. They have an insane amount of pin action while remaining predictable.
But at the end of the day, the ideal bowling ball weight is the one that allows you to bowl comfortably and consistently.
So what weight should I choose?
Are you using a house ball?
If you are choosing a house ball off of the rack, the fit is more important than the weight. Read here for more info. The fit of the ball is the most important thing, closely followed by weight.
Are you using a “real” bowling ball?
Your best bet is to talk to your local pro shop operator and talk to them about your strength-level, joint health, bodyweight, etc. They will help you choose the right ball for you.
Healthy adults can almost always handle 14-15lb balls, and from there you will learn about how your body reacts to bowling and whether or not a heavier or lighter ball would work better for you.
Choose whichever ball will get you bowling the most. In most cases, this means choosing anywhere from 13-15lbs. Be careful about going too heavy! You will definitely be bowling less if you get injured and have to stop bowling to recover!
If you’re using house balls, you want to choose the heaviest ball that fits properly If you are purchasing your own ball and getting it custom-fitted to your hand at a pro shop, you need to consider the risk/reward ratios for the different weights. In my opinion, if you are a reasonably healthy adult, 14-15 is the sweet spot of injury prevention and pin action.
But at the end of the day, your best bet is to talk to your local Pro Shop Operator about your thoughts and concerns, and they will help you choose the ball that is right for you.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, thoughts, complaints, etc. Leave a comment below, or contact us here!