Simply searching for a bowling ball online is likely going to yield a number of results. With so many different options, and the price range that can vary quite a bit, it is important to know why certain bowling balls cost more money than others.
There is certainly reasoning that goes into why one bowling ball might cost over $100, while another option is under $50. There are different types of bowling balls depending on the level of play, as well as the style of play a person has.
Different Types of Bowling Balls and their costs
Plastic coverstock, entry level bowling balls
This is the entry-level option for any type of person who likes bowling but doesn’t more for a social activity then anything. In many cases, this is going to be a bowling ball that is pretty similar to what can be found at the bowling alley. It is still going to be an upgrade though, because it is personalized for individual and is most likely in much better shape.
The defining feature of an entry-level bowling ball like this is a plastic coverstock. While it is a very durable material to use, it does not allow for a lot of hook when the ball is delivered. They also have a pretty standard core, which also will not help with any type of hook.
Many of the cool looking designs for bowling balls will also fall into this category. They are going to be a little bit more expensive just because they are designed creatively, but performance wise they will more than likely play like the entry level models.
Intermediate, performance bowling balls
Once a person starts to get into bowling a little bit more, it is likely time to invest in a performance bowling ball. It is going to cost a little bit more money, which is why a lot of people go with an intermediate option at first.
A urethane coverstock is used a lot of times with these bowling balls. The core will also be customized a bit to give a person a better delivery each time. This allows a person to mess around with a bit of a hook if that is what they want.
With any performance ball, it is essential to make sure that the holes are drilled properly to maximize the results as much as possible. A professional at a bowling center should always be in charge of this whenever possible, since they will know exactly what to do to get someone set up properly.
Look for balls in this range to cost anywhere from $75-$150. They are certainly a bit more expensive, but the difference in scores will be pretty evidence.
Advanced performance bowling balls
The most expensive bowling balls are going to be very similar to those that are used by professionals. These advanced performance bowling balls will have a great, durable coverstock, a customized core for each type of bowler, and the ability to drill holes in the ball to get the most out of each delivery.
Balls in this range will be anywhere from $150 to $250, and a lot of that cost comes from the reactive coverstocks.
There are three types of reactive coverstocks for bowlers to consider. The pearl coverstock gives a lot of length, and a sharper response overall on the back end. The coverstock is preferred by a lot of people who do not have a ton of speed on their deliveries.
A hybrid coverstock will react a little bit quicker, but go longer. True to its name, the hybrid strives to be the best of both worlds. It is a great coverstock for many people to go with when purchasing their first performance bowling ball.
The solid coverstock will react very quickly, and is usually reserved for fast bowlers. It can cut through all types of lanes, allowing for a big hook. It is considered to be the strongest coverstock out there, which can be a great thing in the right hands. At the same time, inexperienced to bowlers will have a hard time dealing with a ball like this.
Quick Word On Cores
Cores for bowling balls are labeled as pankcake, symmetrical and asymmetrical. Pancake is considered the most traditional, but companies have been pushing symmetrical and asymmetrical cores as well. While some bowlers swear by a certain type of core, a lot of this comes down to trial and error.
Cost of a Tournament Bowling Ball
Anyone who is bowling in a tournament is likely going to completely skip any entry level bowling ball options out there. Instead, they will jump straight to performance balls, because that will help put them on a level playing field. The bowling ball cost will be more, but it is worth it to improve their game.
Serious bowlers will have different bowling balls for different conditions. For example, a bowler might prefer a solid coverstock when playing on a heavy oil pattern, but they prefer to switch it up on lighter patterns to a pearl or hybrid.
A lot of changes will come down to what makes a bowler extremely comfortable. Even though there are suggestions that are thrown out there at all times, it comes down to feel when bowling. Sometimes, it also comes down to if a particular ball is performing well for somebody during a tournament.
In order to have a full arsenal of balls for a legitimate tournament, most people should have a budget of around $400 or more. That might seem like a lot of money, and most people are not going to purchase all their bowling balls at the same time. With that being said, a lot of people likely have three legitimate bowling balls to turn to for tournament play.
Cost of Bowling Accessories
Bowling might seem like an inexpensive activity, but it can certainly get up there and price in a hurry. While a lot of accessories are going to be relatively inexpensive, there are a lot of different things for a person to consider.
As far as true essentials go, every bowler needs to have proper shoes, a towel and a carrying case. Shoes are pretty self-explanatory, unless of course a person plans on renting shoes for the rest of their life. Bowling shoes can be found for pretty good prices, so there is a silver lining with that.
Having a towel is essential when bowling because so much buildup can be picked up by the balls. After just a few games, a new bowling ball can start to look like it is old. This will hurt performance, and will hurt the overall durability if it is completely ignored. Using a towel properly is going to keep the ball at its best.
Technically, a person who only owns one bowling ball does not need a carrying case. It will still be incredibly difficult to carry around all the different things. It just makes a lot of sense to carry around everything in a bag.
As for optional accessories, there are certainly a lot of things people can consider. A lot of it comes down to ball maintenance and shoe maintenance, but having all this can be beneficial and save time in a lot of instances. There are also accessories that can be worn by a person to improve performance.
Ball maintenance accessories include cleaning solution, a shammy and other cleaning options. Some people are very adamant about keeping their bowling ball as clean as possible. It makes a lot of sense to take care of investments, so no one is going to argue against that.
Shoes can be altered depending on the type of lane a person is playing on. Not only that, but shoes need regular cleaning as well. Carrying around a slider, brush, cover, extra pads and more can all be beneficial.
Finally, accessories to wear while bowling are becoming increasingly popular. Protecting the arm, and specifically the wrist, is essential for a lot of bowlers. Wrist support is worn a lot, even by pros. There are wrist positioners that can be purchased as well, which help with a more consistent delivery every single time. Knee and elbow support is also seen quite a bit at bowling alleys to provide full protection.
Bowling Ball Buying Considerations
When purchasing a bowling ball, there are a few considerations every single person should consider.
1. What type of bowler are you? If you are looking to be competitive, a higher quality ball is needed. If you just want to play with friends once or twice a month, a basic ball can do.
2. What coverstock fits your game? A coverstock is going to alter a bowling ball’s performance quite a bit. Look at the different options and pick out which suits your game the best.
3. What type of core is needed? The core of the bowling ball will effect hook, as well as pin striking. Much like the coverstock, investigate which core fits your particular style of play.
4. How heavy should the ball be? A ball needs to feel comfortable in a person’s hand to perform well. Note that when buying a new ball and getting the holes drilled properly, most people can handle adding 1-2 more pounds to their regular ball weight.
5. Where should the holes go? The fingers and thumb need to fit properly in the ball. When having a ball drilled, it is essential to have it properly lined up.
Wayne Webb is a three year state champion bowling team member. Wayne first started bowling with his father at age 5, and has been a huge fan of the sport ever since. In his professional career, Wayne currently serves as a full-time teacher at Portland High School. Wayne writes for several online publications including Lane1Bowling.com and Bowling Magazine.