Stronger vs. Weaker Bowling Balls

If you’re at the point in your game where you are considering purchasing a new bowling ball or adding one to your arsenal, knowing the differences between stronger and weaker bowling balls can be a pivotal turning point in your game.

Everyone likes to see the bowling ball hook on the backend and strike, but when you are choosing between stronger and weaker bowling balls it important to note where the bowling ball begins to hook – not just how much.

Stronger Bowling Balls

Stronger does not mean more hook… necessarily. A stronger bowling ball hooks more through the heads (foul line to just past the arrows) than a weaker bowling ball will. Stronger bowling balls typically have a duller finish with a symmetrical core. These bowling balls are designed for a higher volume of oil, so they grip on the lane earlier instead of sliding.

Stronger or Weaker Bowling Ball

A stronger ball will have less right-to-left hook down lane because it has exerted much of its energy on the first half of the lane.

Weaker Bowling Balls

Now that you are watching your ball travel down lane and are focusing on where it begins to hook, a weaker bowling ball is going to slide through the heads more than an aggressive bowling ball and show more right to left movement on the backend part of the lane.

Think of it like a snow tire on ice. When a snow tire hits ice, it slides. But when it gets back onto pavement or snow, it grips.

After a weaker ball has traveled down lane to the end of the pattern, it will begin to grip and turn much faster than a stronger bowling ball would at this point of the lane.

A weaker bowling ball saves its energy because of its shiny coverstock and asymmetrical core inside.

Weaker vs Stronger Bowling Ball

Decision Time

Which one do you need in your bag? The answer depends on what the lane conditions are:

If it’s lower volume (dryer), you want a shiny, weaker coverstock bowling ball.

If it’s higher volume (oily), you want a duller, aggressive coverstock bowling ball.

Things to remember when adding a new ball to your arsenal

It’s always important to make sure you are using the proper bowling ball weight with any bowling ball. A good gauge is to be around 15mph. If you find yourself regularly dipping down below that it may be time to go down in weight.

Adversely, if you are regularly throwing above 16mph and you are not yet using a 16lb pound bowling ball, it’s time to move up in ball weight. If you are looking to get an exact fit for every one of your bowling balls, consider having your balls drilled with interchangeable thumbs. Remember, you can always make a bowling ball hook earlier or later by adjusting the surface of the ball with an Abralon pad. Don’t hesitate to talk with your pro shop operator about what you’re thinking of doing to get a second opinion.

Lastly, we talked briefly about stronger and weaker bowling balls and their cores. Check out this video on different cores bowling balls have for more information.

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18 Responses to “Stronger vs. Weaker Bowling Balls”
  1. Craig Cline
    Craig Cline

    I throw at a speed that generally ranges from a low of about 16.5 to a high of about 17.5. I bowl less than once a week, so my average is only in the 165-ish vicinity. I used to have a 16 pound ball, but the bowling alley pro suggested I go down in weight; so I’m now using a 14 pound ball. He also said that 16 pound balls aren’t too good for most recreational (non-league, too) bowlers; that it’s even hard to sell them these days. So I wonder if you might offer some additional info. about speed vs. ball weight. My 14 pounder feels good to throw. I suppose I could go to a 15 pound ball, but again, the pro recommended the 14k pound weight.

  2. Sam Franco
    Sam Franco

    Age 72. Left handed using a Vintage Brunswick 12lb. Ball travel 10.78mph. Next day back is sore. What weight ball and type to increase speed and be more comfortable? 10 11lb?

  3. EH

    There are a multitude of strong asymmetrical and weak symmetrical balls on the market. The suggestion to move up to 16 lb weight or down in weight if you’re exceeding or not hitting 15 mph… it is hard to imagine that the USBC coaches featured in the videos on this website would agree with that.

  4. charles Brehmer
    charles Brehmer

    Hi I am 67 years old last year i averaged 193 like to get it up higher my ball rev is low. I am right handed don’t want to quit my right arm gets tired after 2 games because of basketball injury what can I do and I throw 14 lb. balls

    • Ron Woods
      Ron Woods

      To just say the asymmetrical is weeker is wrong. Heavier ball because you can get to 16mph is “out there “

  5. Gus jager
    Gus jager

    leave to many 7or10 pins on good locking pocket hits.i’m 95 years in age

  6. Iris

    I have 2 fingertip balls
    , one a bit lighter than the other. The lighter one hooks so much I cannot trust it for picking up spares. The heavier one now slips off my fingertips due to arthritis. What is your suggestion I do to continue enjoying the sport?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Dear Iris,

      Thank you for your patience I have the answer from the experts for you:

      Hello and thanks for the question.

      We suggest having a plastic ball for your spares. You know which weight works best for your game and by using a plastic ball with the correct ball weigh, you’ll lose the hook on the ball giving you the ability to throw straighter at spares.

      Check out these videos from our coaches for more information. Click on the text below.
      Types Of Bowling Balls: Plastic Ball Benefits
      Pick Up Spares With Plastic Balls
      Developing A Spare System

      Thanks For Watching!

      National Bowling Academy

  7. daniel schaden
    daniel schaden

    ‬I am 80 yrs old with low ball speed (less than 10). I am in good shape and can get to the pocket on a regular basis. Bowl in Baltimore in a bowl mor house. In general, what type ball would you recommend

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Dear Daniel,

      Thank you for your patience while I got the answer from the experts, here is the reply:

      Hello and thanks for the question.

      I have three videos from our coaches that will help you make your decision. Please click on each of the titles and it will open the video for you.
      Understanding Ball Motion
      How to Choose a Bowling Ball That Fits Your Needs
      Understanding Bowling Ball Cores

      Thanks for watching!
      National Bowling Academy

  8. Diana

    I use a 12lb. ball that hooks at the very end of the lane, I am getting many splits! Where should I be standing to start and what arrow should I be looking at? Can you help?