Heavy vs. Light Bowling Balls: 14 Pros and Cons

Bowling is a pretty exciting activity that can serve both as a hobby and a sport. For those who have been in the game for quite some time, you probably have your preference when it comes to the two bowling balls-the heavy and the light bowling ball.

This article will, therefore, give a keen insight into these two, by looking at both their pros and cons. I hope that this will answer some of the questions you have regarding the differences between these two balls.

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What is the heaviest bowling ball?

Bowling balls differ when it comes to weight. However, the heaviest weight for all drilled bowling balls, as regulated by The US Bowling Congress, stands at 16 pounds. If you want a weight higher than 16 pounds, you will have to go for the undrilled balls, which differ by a few ounces.

Pros of a heavy bowling ball

 Better striking

A heavy bowling ball heightens your striking ability because most of the ball’s inertia is transferred to the pins, which then relays this energy to the other pins to give you a higher strike ability. Keep in mind that the ball should only touch four pins on its way.

A bowler would call this ‘power’ or ‘hitting power.’ For intense striking, you need to impart extra energy to the pins.

Less deflection 

A heavy bowling ball indeed provides less deflection as it goes through the pins. Most people agree that this is usually the main advantage of these balls. You also get to increase your carry percentage for better accuracy.

Free swing

It is always easier to have a free swing with a heavier ball as compared to lighter balls. This is also closely connected to the action of the pins. Heavier balls offer more pounds per square inch, which cannot be said for lighter balls. A heavier ball will also give you natural swings since you need to roll the ball, unlike in lighter ones where you might be tempted to throw.

Larger hooking

It is easier to create a larger hook with a heavier ball as compared to a light bowling ball. You can, therefore, manage a bigger hook at a relatively more prominent arch. It is also pretty evident that a hook is more powerful than a straight ball since, in a hook, the energy is fairly spread among the pins of the pocket, whereas a straight shot transfers most of the energy to the headpin.

A heavy bowling ball will also give you a decreased ball speed, which provides it with more time to hook.

Cons of a heavy bowling ball

A heavier bowling ball is okay in bowling. However, it also has its disadvantages. These are:


The truth is, you have less control over a heavier ball, especially once you start getting tired. It will, therefore, be hard to achieve and maintain the striking power that was portrayed at the start. You might not put up an optimum play for long, therefore. A good way of combating this mishap is by finding the right weight.

Wrist strains

A heavier ball will put more strain on your wrists, especially at the start, which means that you will most probably have trouble with your rev rate and ball speed, which are quite essential for a good bowler.

This problem is most prevalent in people switching from lighter bowling balls. To help with the strain on your wrists you could get a wrist guard form Amazon.


A heavy bowling ball may be a good choice, but you need to have in mind that it is pretty easy to get tired while using these balls. They are not as light and therefore require quite a substantial amount of energy to throw around. A person using a sixteen-pound bowling ball is likely to get tired quickly as compared to lesser weight.

Does a heavier bowling ball roll faster?

No. A heavy bowling ball rolls relatively slower than a lighter one. This is because a heavier ball imparts more energy as compared to the light one, which explains why it is easier to strike as many pins as possible.

How do I know that my bowling ball is too heavy?

If you want to determine whether your bowling ball is too heavy, the most natural move would be putting it in the palm of your bawling hand. If you can easily hold the ball without your arms or handshaking, then it is not too heavy for you. However, if your handshakes, just know that it is time you probably moved a pound lower. Also, if your ball dictates where your body is heading to, it is probably heavier for you.

What is the lightest bowling ball?

The lightest bowling ball weighs six pounds though companies have started making some weighing four pounds. These are usually suited for kids mostly. However, for competitions, the minimum weight allowed is nine pounds, and the balls must be obtained from approved manufacturers.

Pros of light bowling balls

Easy to roll

It is easy to roll a lighter ball as compared to a heavier ball. They do not require as much strength to compel and not too much force. You can, therefore, get the same amount of power with a lighter ball saving you from all the pain.


Since they are easy to roll, lighter balls are more comfortable as compared to the heavier balls. You do not have to curve your arms as much to execute a throw. They will also fit your hands well while allowing you to adjust your posture and boards easily.

This is my 8lbs ball that used to be my mother’s. It’s a great starter ball since its so light.

Good for beginners.

For a person starting out on bowling, a lighter ball will serve you just fine. You probably have no idea about hooks and straight shots, and therefore you need something light to train better. Training with a heavier ball will be quite a disadvantage owing to the wrist pains you will have to undergo.


Light bowling balls are easier to control as compared to the heavier ones. They are not as complicated and are also relatively fast.


Lighter balls offer you room for smaller modifications. This is in relation to boards and shifting, which requires more substantial changes with heavier balls.

Cons of light bowling balls

Ball deflection

It is quite challenging to achieve the perfect ball deflection with the lighter balls. You will discover that even the most excellent shots can, at times, turn out to be a disappointment, an area that heavier balls tower.

Lighter balls affect your pin action and therefore deflect the pin off by a more significant percentage.

Less impact

Lighter balls weigh less and do not, therefore, roll with as much impact. They do not have as much inertia meaning that they will not strike many pins. You will consequently suffer a disadvantage while gaming when you rely on these types of bowling balls.

What is the lightest bowling ball one can use?

For competitions, the lightest bowling ball one can use weighs nine pounds. That does not, however, mean that there are no lighter balls. No. There are the six-pound bowling balls that are normally used by smaller kids and are not therefore listed for competitions.

Youth leagues generally use the lighter ones, and even with these, they have to come from a listed manufacturer. Recently, however, we have seen bowling balls weighing four pounds, replacing the standard six.

Is it better to use a lighter or a heavier bowling ball?

The weight of a bowling ball should use boils down to personal preference and the desired level and play experience. The truth, however, is, heavier bowling balls have many advantages as compared to the lighter ones. Heavier balling weights have more significant impacts and therefore deliver more energy to the pins, which in return increases your chances of smashing all the pins for a smooth win. Even though one would say that it boils down to preference, your level of play also matters.

A heavier ball also maintains its course as it goes through the pins, which is good for bowling. The heavier balls also hit relatively harder, which is a plus when it comes to improved pin action. Lighter balls also have their share of advantages, and that is why we say it boils down to individual preference.

It is easier to hook better using a lighter ball as compared to the heavier bowling balls. You can, therefore, get a hook with a lighter ball without having to move your mark. This, however, depends on your expertise as a player. A lighter ball also offers mixed results when it comes to deflections. Remember, to hit all the pins; you have to achieve the perfect deflection. This is also an area that heavier balls tower. Jut have in mind that the heavier the ball, the more the striking power.

From this discussion, therefore, it is entirely accurate to say that heavier balls are relatively better than lighter balls. However, do not go for a ball whose weight you cannot support, or you will end up with hurting arms and a not-so-good play.

What is the best bowling ball weight for kids?

In case you are looking for the right bowling ball for your kid, go for one that matches their age. Remember, we said that the minimum weight for a bowling weight is 6 pounds. However, kids have an exception, and for a reason. For a six to seven years old kid, the best ball should be 6 pounds. For a kid of ten to eleven years, a ten-pound ball would just be right. You should, however, be open to slight weight adjustments, but these two weight ranges are the best for these age groups.

What is the best bawling weight for seniors?

Senior bowlers are pretty fragile, and it is therefore not advisable that they use a heavy bowling ball. Eight to ten pounds would, therefore, be right. However, when choosing the best weight for a beginner, it would be advisable that you take into account the senior’s hand flexibility and strength.

In case a senor is strong enough, a relatively heavier bowling ball would be advisable. However, ensure that the ball offers the level of comfort needed, which is critical in maximizing bowling pins. Remember, seniors differ from adults.

Does bowling ball weight matter?

Yes. Even though the bowling ball weight does not affect revs as much, it does influence your bowling experience by a larger percentage. The weight of your ball will influence and affect both the actions and your spins. How then does the weight influence the experience? As you roll your ball, weight is transferred into the ball’s drive. Therefore, the higher the weight, the more the pins will bang around during impact.

More weight, therefore, gives you more pin action. Heavier balls also offer more effortless hooks because they move relatively slow and thus gives your ball time for hooking. On the other hand, lighter balls also reduce the strain that comes with rolling.

You are therefore going to use lesser energy rolling a 13-pound ball as compared to the 16-pound ball, which is the highest. Not only do you work on the strain, but also the joint pains that come with such balls. Have in mind also that the carry percentage depends on the ball’s weight in combination with the ball speed and your ability as a bawler to get your ball on the rails before they hit the pins. So yes. Ball weight matters.

Remember, therefore, that comfort does not signify the right choice. You might be comfortable when using a particular weight, but it does not necessarily mean that it is the best one for you. You should consider a change over time. If you realize that you are dictating where the ball is going, the ball might be too light. However, if the ball dictates where the direction of the bowler’s body, the ball is too heavy.

in the end…

As a bowler, you need to learn the differences between a light bowling ball and a heavier ball and how these two determine your bowling experience. I hope that this article has been of help in answering these two questions. Enjoy your bowling experience!

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