Identifying Strong and Weak Bowling Balls

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What is a strong bowling ball? What is a weak bowling ball? There is a misconception amongst many bowlers that a strong bowling ball hooks the most. Coach Erik Vermilyea with Track sets the record straight and explains how we view ball motion and how it dictates ball choice when matching up to the lane conditions.

Strong Bowling Balls

Strength in a bowling ball is defined as when the bowling ball digs into the oil on the lane. Strong bowling balls coverstock are dull in appearance and read the lane early, giving you a smooth ball reaction. They are a good choice for longer oil patterns with higher volumes of oil.

Wrist Strong Ball

Part of the misconception amongst bowlers when discussing strong and weak bowling balls is that there is a tendency to read the lane side-to-side, rather than front-to-back. When a stronger bowling ball is too strong for the pattern you are bowling on, it will use up the majority of its energy through the front part of the lane and will appear weak down lane, not giving you the desired back-end-reaction toward the pocket you’re looking for.

That’s where some confusion over time has come into play because many bowlers read the lane side-to-side instead of front-to-back. If it wasn’t “hooking enough” at the backend of the lane it must be a weaker bowling ball. This we now know to be untrue.

Weaker or Cleaner Bowling Ball

Conversely, weak or cleaner bowling balls have a shiny coverstock and skid more through the front part of the lane storing up its energy for more side-to-side motion down lane.

Weak Ball

If your bowling ball isn’t giving you as much backend direction as you need, the move is to go to a weaker or cleaner bowling ball, not a stronger bowling ball.


For more on bowling balls check out “Improving Your Bowling Ball Arsenal” and “The Importance of Experimenting with Different Bowling Balls” from our expert coaches.