Everyone and their mother wants a new bowling ball
We like to think that that new ball being released soon is exactly what I need to get more strikes and improve my average. I always do (insert any mistake here) and what do you know? That new bowling ball is specifically designed to avoid that mistake! I guess the only way for me to get better scores is to buy that new ball, right? WRONG!!
I’ll tell you right now that you don’t need a new ball. It’s a slightly controversial thing to say, but the absolute truth is that the average bowler needs at most 3-4 bowling balls.
This article is for YOU, not the pros.
Let’s get that out of the way. This article is written for regular house bowlers. When you get to the high-level tournament/professional level of bowling there are niche, edge-cases that this article doesn’t relate to. The typical house bowler bowls at just a few different houses on house shot oil patterns. These patterns are specifically designed to give the bowler a high margin of error. Essentially, they are super easy.
If you get too far outside, it will usually make it back. If you are too far on the inside, it will hold long enough, and not come back too far.
Competitive, PBA, USBC, professional, sport oil patterns are not like that. If you miss outside you will be punished, if you miss inside, you will be punished. When it comes to this type of oil pattern, this article is not relevant. Just to give you an idea of how intricate these patterns are, pros will often have multiple of the same exact ball with different layouts in order to get the reaction that they need.
This article is not for those of you who bowl on these patterns, this article is for the typical house mouse who only bowls on a few different house patterns.
Bowling ball marketing has more influence on the balls people buy/use than the actual performance/quality of the ball. It’s immensely important to remember this.
Here’s the deal
At the end of the day, everyone creating any sort of content about bowling is looking to make money. The best way to do that is to get people to buy new equipment as often as possible. That “objective” review of that new bowling ball was made to sell that ball and get a commission. The promotional video that explains the pros/cons was made by the manufacturer to sell that ball.
Bowling ball companies have entire marketing teams dedicated to convincing people to buy things. The only goal of these marketing campaigns is to tell you exactly what you need to hear in order to make the purchase.
The things the marketing teams talk about is mostly useless for regular bowlers. The difference between core-geometry or coverstock chemistry can be negligible but the marketing team will do everything in their power to convince you that it is a game-changing addition to your arsenal.
But it’s not just the marketing team.
The marketing done for these balls is so widespread that a lot of people take these things as absolute fact. It’s the reason that one guy in your league who brings his 6-ball roller with the bonus ball only averages 180.
But the guy who only brings one strike ball and one spare ball? He averages 220 because he actually knows what he’s doing. He understands his ball and throw on another level. He maintains the coverstock of his bowling ball to perfectly suit his game. He knows how to adjust his throw and still hit his marks.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but the point still stands. New bowling balls will not increase your average on their own. What will increase your average is truly understanding the bowling balls you currently have and learning how to properly adjust to lane conditions.
Most of you probably still think a new bowling ball will change your game and finally allow you to unleash your true potential on league night. Here’s the thing, we all have a skewed idea of the quality of our throw and overall game. There’s a good chance you just aren’t as good as you believe, and buying a new bowling ball won’t change that.
So why does everyone “need” a new ball?
People “need” a new bowling ball to address a few different things, more hook, less hook, earlier hook, later hook, and a few more. All of these things can be fixed without buying a new ball. It may take a little bit you money and/or effort, but these problems are all solvable without shelling out money to buy a new ball. Let’s break down each issue and explain why you don’t need to buy a new ball.
You Want More Hook?
Move outside, slow down your throw, or bake your ball.
Moving outside will put your ball on the dry boards earlier and increase friction. If you slow down your throw, you give your ball more time to hook.
There is one thing that can’t completely be fixed by only adjusting your throw.
Bowling balls are porous and soak up oil over time. This can cause your super-aggressive, monster-hooking ball to mellow out to a massive degree.
Brunswick did an in-depth study on bowling ball life-span. They found that over time, bowling balls absorb oil which reduces friction and therefore, hook. They found conclusively that baking a bowling ball using an actual bowling ball baker as found in pro shops is basically the only way to bring a ball back to its original amount of hook.
Or if you’re too cheap to pay your PSO to do it, you can buy a similar, but probably a bit less effective one on Amazon. I think it’s called the Nuball Bowling Ball Oven or something like that.
You Want Less hook?
Move in, or speed up your throw.
If your ball is hooking too aggressively, you can move inside and your ball will go through more oil and hook a bit less. The other option is to speed up your throw which just gives your ball less time on the lane to gain friction and hook.
You Want Earlier hook?
Put some surface on your ball. Sand it to 500 grit and tell me it’s not early.
Roughing up your ball will cause it to gain more friction through the oil, but it will lose a bit of energy, so the back-end hook won’t be as snappy. This will be an earlier, more controllable hook.
You Want Later hook?
Polish your ball.
Polishing your ball will make the ball slide over the oil while maintaining energy which leads to a ball that goes straight until it hits the dry when it will snap back super hard.
It’s that simple. You need to learn to adjust.
Learning how to adjust your game throughout your league night, and throughout different ambient conditions will improve your game more than any new ball will.
This opinion is kind of controversial in the serious bowling community, but it really shouldn’t be.
You guys are getting played by the marketing teams.
Let me ask you a question. Imagine you get to use any equipment available on the market with perfect drilling. Do you think you would be able to beat Belmo if he was just using a house ball? There’s no way. People like Belmo understand this game in a way that we regular folk will never comprehend.
Go out there, be versatile with your foot and eye adjustments, maintain your coverstocks, be extremely aware of your weaknesses, and practice more.
Let’s have a conversation. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!