Bowling Ball Weights Explained - What Size Do I Need?

Bowling Ball Weights Explained – What Size Do I Need?

Last updated on September 4th, 2023 at 07:23 pm

Selecting the perfect bowling ball weight is essential for your game. That strike won’t be as achievable without the correct bowling ball. Size and weight are integral for your comfort and level of control.

The wrong weight could lead to painful calluses, tendinitis, and muscle strains. Before determining the proper weight for your bowling ball, you need to know how the weight is determined.

Bowling Ball Weights Explained - What Size Do I Need?

What Are Bowling Balls Made Of?

Bowling balls are made from several materials. When first introduced, these balls were made of a strong wood called Lignum vitae. In 1905, a bowling ball called Evertrue was made of rubber.

Around 1915, the Brunswick Corporation created a Mineralite rubber ball. The first polyester bowling ball did not show up until 1970. In the 80s, urethane bowling balls came on the scene. By the 90s, manufacturers were making bowling balls from resin.

Today, bowling balls are made of one of three materials, polyester, resin, and urethane. Choosing the right material is essential when considering weight and performance.

Polyester is the least expensive material. Unfortunately, this material does not offer as much of a hook because it is not affected by the oils on the lane.

Moderately priced, urethane bowling balls offer more of a hook than polyester and require less maintenance than resin.

Resin bowling balls are the gold standard, coming in as the most expensive. Resin bowling balls offer more hook and lasting durability.

several bowling balls on rack

The 10% Rule of Bowling Balls

Ideally, a bowling ball should weigh around ten percent of your body weight. The ball needs to have weight, but it should never be so heavy as to cause discomfort.

A lighter bowling ball does not have the necessary weight for swinging with the momentum of its own weight. Consider the following typical weights.

  • Beginner adult males should choose a bowling ball weight between 14-16 pounds.
  • Beginner female adults should choose a bowling ball between ten to fourteen pounds.
  • Beginner youths should choose a bowling ball between 6 to 14 pounds.

These are only guidelines. To ensure the proper weight and feel, you are going to need to try different weights during a game. The best way to accomplish this without so much cost is to rent them at a bowling alley.

While the weight of a bowling ball may seem inconsequential at the beginning of a match, excess weight will begin to take its toll by the end. You could even develop muscle strain unaware.

man trying a red bowling ball

Other Things to Consider to Get the Perfect Fit

The weight of the ball is not the only consideration when choosing a bowling ball. Understanding the other considerations will help you choose the perfect fit.

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Thumb Hole

One of the first things you need to evaluate is the thumb hole. Push your thumb inside and lightly press it to one side of the hole. If you can move your thumb in and out with it barely touching the side of the hole, you have the right fit. If the thumb hole is too tight or loose, try another ball until you get a perfect fit.

blue bowling ball and shoes


The span of a bowling ball is the distance between the thumb hole and the finger holes. The length of the span is measured from the center of the thumb hole to the center of the first finger hole.

Span is incredibly important. If the span is too long or too short, both can affect your game and comfort. A proper span allows bowlers to hold the ball securely without being afraid of dropping it on the downswing.


Pitch is the angle of the thumb or finger hole. Holes drilled away from the center are called reverse. Holes drilled towards the center are called forward. There are also left and right pitches.

The proper pitch will rely on your hand size and flexibility. The pitch you choose will also depend on the span. Generally, a shorter span is going to require a forward pitch to give a better grip.


There are three types of bowling ball cores, symmetrical, asymmetrical, and pancake. The core of the bowling ball is essential because it affects the level of momentum it gathers once it leaves your hands. You can consider the core to be the steering wheel of the bowling ball.

Symmetrical balls have a smoother and more fluid motion, while asymmetrical bowling balls have an angular shape that responds well to friction. It’s not that one is better than the other, though each one has a purpose. Those who struggle with creating rotation in their bowling balls should consider an asymmetrical core.

Pancake cores are reliable and produce a steady roll. Many beginner bowlers choose this core because it provides effortless movement.


The coverstock of a bowling ball is more important than appearance alone. The coverstock is the exterior material of the bowling ball.

When you roll a bowling ball down the lane, friction is created. The exterior of a bowling ball will affect the level of friction and how the ball responds. The following are the types of coverstocks.

  • Plastic
  • Urethane
  • Reactive Resin
  • Pearl Reactive Resin
  • Solid Reactive Resin
  • Hybrid Reactive
blue bowling ball on wooden bowling lane

Choose the Right Ball For Comfort and Effectiveness

The weight of a bowling ball is, without a doubt, one of the most important considerations. You should also consider things like the thumb hole, span, and pitch.

You are now armed with all the information you need for choosing wisely. Using this information will allow you to pick the perfect bowling ball for maximum strikes.

men and women holding bowling balls

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