The dry towel rule, Rule 18, went into effect August 1, 2019. The rule states:
While bowling in USBC Competition, a bowling ball cannot:
1. Have the surface altered by an abrasive.
2. Be cleaned with any liquid substance or cleaning agent.
3. Have any foreign material on it including, but not limited to:
All bowling balls so altered or cleaned must be removed from the competition.
NOTE: Should a foreign substance appear on the outer surface of a bowling ball which cannot be removed with a dry towel, an approved cleaner may be used with the consent from a league or tournament officer.
Change inherently is met with resistance, but as you continue to read this article you’ll learn the do’s and don’ts involved in changing a bowling ball’s surface and cleaning it.
Practice time is not considered competition. It is completely acceptable to change your bowling ball’s surface during practice time.
National Bowling Academy coaches urge every bowler to get sanding pads and change the bowling ball’s surface. It plays a large role in matching up to today’s lane conditions.
The rule reminds bowlers that altering the surface while score is being kept during league or competition is illegal.
If you are unfamiliar or would like a refresher on changing your bowling ball’s surface check out this video: Making Adjustments to the Surface of Your Bowling Ball. The video includes a demonstration illustrating the differences between high and low grit sanding pads and how they perform on the lanes.
Liquid Substance or Cleaning Agent
Remember, practice is not part of competition, there is a theme here. When you are in the settee you can clean your bowling ball before and/or after competition without concern that your ball will be removed because of a violation.
The key to the rule change is that you cannot have any foreign material on the bowling ball and you can not clean your ball when score is being kept.
Everytime a bowling ball goes down the lane it is collecting oil into its pores. While bowling, you should remove the oil collected after every shot with a dry shammy or dry microfiber towel.
The best time to clean your bowling ball is after you are done bowling. The last thing you want is your ball continuing to absorb oil that you hadn’t removed from the last time you bowled.
National Bowling Academy offers a free video on How to Clean a Bowling Ball for Peak Performance that every bowler should watch to help keep their bowling ball’s performance at its best. Even if you ritually wipe off your ball in between shots and clean it after every time you bowl, the ball will need resurfacing around 50 – 60 games of use.
Your local pro shop can help you out with this or if you are more of a do it your selfer, Creating the Difference offers “The Clear Basic Package Ball Restoration.”
The dry towel rule is designed to keep the integrity of the sport intact. Following the tips outlined in this article will keep you compliant in USBC Certified Leagues and Tournaments.