How To Determine Your Perfect Weight Bowling Ball

Bowling ball weight test

When I bought my very first brand new bowling ball in Nov. of 2020 I didnt know that I could actually use a much heavier ball than I had been using. The previous bowling ball I was using was my mothers old bowling ball from 20 years ago that was 9lbs. I learned from the pro shop that I should be throwing a 12lbs ball.

So how do you determine your perfect bowling ball weight? To determine the ideal bowling ball weight you should throw you need to place you arm against your body with your forearm and palm out. Place a bowling ball in the palm of your hand. If your hand shakes the ball is too heavy.

I went from throwing a 9lbs bowling ball and averaging about a 100 score to throwing a 12lbs bowling ball and increasing my average by 20 points. Im still working on my approach.

How heavy of a bowling ball should you use?

Some will say the bowling ball you use should equal 10% of your weight. I personally think that’s a dumb way to determine how heavy of a bowling ball you should use. 

You should throw whatever you’re comfortable throwing, without injuring yourself. You may feel fine throwing a 16lbs ball for a few frames but suddenly during the 7rh frame as soon as you release the ball your wrist starts to tingle. You play it off like it’s no big deal, but with each throw after the pain gets more and more intense.

Now halfway through the 2nd game, you’re in too much pain to continue. You thought a 16lbs bowling ball was fine to throw because all your buddies, who bowl more often than you, throw 16lbs balls and make it look like childs play.

The reason you gradually hurt yourself is that you stressed your wrist and forearm out. This is normally caused by throwing the boring ball improperly, and the heavier the bowling ball the more likely you are to injure yourself. You don’t have to throw the heaviest ball to look like a man either. Nobody cares how heavy of a ball you throw, and if they do make a big deal about it, they’re jerks.

A trick I was taught by the pro shop owner at the bowling alley where I bow is to tuck your elbow in to your side while holding out your forearm. Place a bowling ball in the palm of your hand. If you can hold it without it hurting for about 30 seconds you should be fine bowling with that weighted bowling ball. See picture below

Bowling ball weight test
How to test the perfect weight bowling ball

Does bowling ball weight matter?

 Yes of course bowling ball weight matters.  Lighter balls are generally meant for children or people that have had some injuries or older people. You wouldn’t see a 6′ tall 250-pound man throw in a 9-pound bowling ball. That ball is just way too light for him. You also wouldn’t see a 5′ tall woman who weighs 100 lbs with bricks in her pocket throwing a 16-pound ball, Unless she’s super strong. 

It also matters when it comes to pin carry. Bowling balls that are too light will generally bounce off the pins because they wont have enough force behind them to knock down the pins. Bowling balls that are too heavy will plow right through the pins and leave you with hard to spare split combos, such as the 7 – 10 split.

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of light and heavy bowling balls? Click here to learn more.

I used to bowl with a 9lbs bowling that belonged to my mother 20 years ago. The bowling ball always felt light but the 10lbs huse balls felt way too heavy. It was hard for me to understand that it was how the balls were drilled that effected their weight. My mothers bowling ball is what is considered a “spare” ball. They tend to not have cores. To top that off im right handed and my mother is left handed, i did have the finger holes expanded a bit, but was told by the pro shop that the bowling ball wasnt worth getting plugged and redrilled due to it’s age and the fact that its a spare ball.

Can you add or remove weight from a bowling ball?

Its easier to remove weight from a bowling ball than it is to add it. Holes that are drilled with the specific purpose of removing weight are called either “weight holes” or “balance holes. They are to alter the performance of the bowling ball and were once so prevalent in bowling that some bowling balls had multiple weight holes.

The USBC has recently changed the rules when it comes to bowling ball weight holes according to this article on their website. You can read about it here on their website. The 10th paragraph is where they reference weight holes.

How do I know if my bowling ball weight is too light or too heavy?

The obvious answer would be to say that if you cant hold the bowling ball with one hand than its too heavy. Though even that doesnt stop people from putting themselves at risk of sprained wrists. It’s possible to be able to hold a bowling ball with one hand and actually throw a few frames before you realize a bowling ball is too heavy.

knowing if a bowling ball is too light is a bit harder to determine and i have experience with this. Though you could say that if you can play more than 4 or 5 games and you feel nothing, the ball is very likely too light for you. I could bowl with my mothers 9lbs bowling ball for hours and feel nothing, didnt know at the time that ment the ball was too light.

Throughout this website i make reference to my mothers bowling ball that i started bowling with being only 9lbs. I recently went to the pro shop in my local bowling alley to buy my very own bowling ball. I thought since my mothers bowling ball was only 9lbs and thats what i was throwing, that i need to buy a bowling ball that was only 9lbs.

The pro shop owner(and his 11yr old son) told me that i could and should be bowling with a much heavier bowling ball unless i has problems with my arms or wrist, which i dont. Thats when i realized that a 12lbs bowling ball(that i have now) isnt really that heavy. House bowling balls are layed out in a generic way that made the bowling ball feel much heavier than my bowling ball.

New and old bowling balls
My new Twist Bowling ball and my mothers old purple bowling ball

Bowling ball weight for beginners

As a beginner bowler myself I learned that when a bowling ball is custom fit to your hand you can actually use a heavier ball. If you frequent your local bowling alley and currently use a house ball you might not notice that you may squeeze you hand while you release the bowling ball. That a weight bowling ball you feel comfortable with might have finger holes that are too small or maybe too big so you have to size up or down.

So if you really love the game and become tired of using house bowling balls, you may decide you’re ready to get a personal bowling ball. The question is “what weight should you get?”. When you visit the pro shop they will, or at least they should ask you what your intentions are. Do you just want your own bowling ball to bowl with here and there? Or do you want to develop your game, join a league and compete?

If your intent is just to bowl casually and you’re not concerned with improving your game to play on a team or in tournaments, than they’ll probably suggest a weight for that. If you plan to improve your game, compete in tournaments and such you’ll definitely get a ball that’s atleast a pound or 2 heavier than the house bowling balls you’ve been throwing. As you perfect your approach and become more comfortable you’ll be recommended to get a slightly heavier since you’ll have learned control and are at less risk of injury.

related questions

bowling ball weight for seniors

Seniors are normally seen as frail older individuals who can’t even lift a cup to drink from it. However on any given day if you walk into a bowling alley you’ll see a group of seniors bowing with balls up to 16lbs. If they have no wrist or general bone issues they can use whatever bowling ball doesn’t hurt their wrist.

what weight bowling ball should a woman use

As a woman myself, I use a 12lbs bowling ball. I’m about 5ft and weigh 120lbs. 12lbs isn’t too heavy for me. Taller stronger women could go up to 14lbs or even 16lbs if they’re strong enough. Gender typically doesn’t determine the weight bowling ball one should use. It’s the strength a person has.

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