Why Do Bowling Balls Lose Their Hook and What To Do About It

When I bowl I always try to hook my bowling ball cause I see almost everyone in the alley doing it. I can NEVER do it. It couldn’t be me, right?

Do bowling balls lose their hook, if so, what can be done about it? Bowling balls lose their hook as a result of the oil and dirt collected from the lanes, poor maintenance, and age. The oil is absorbed into the pores of the coverstock and cause your ball’s performance to decline over time if not properly cleaned and stored at proper temperatures.

Most new or average bowlers can’t or don’t notice when their bowling balls start to lose their hook. They just think its something they’re doing, when that not always the case. Learning your bowling balls abilities is very important if you want to become a better bowler.

If you are interested in checking out the best bowling accessories to help keep your hook you can find them by clicking here

Why do bowling balls lose their hook?

These are my and my father’s bowling balls. Do they still hook properly?

Can I still use my ball if it doesn’t hook?

Yes of course, but why would you if that’s why you bought it? You could use it as a spare possibly. If you don’t clean and wipe your bowling ball after your throw the oil will seep into the surface of cover stock of your bowling ball.

If your bowling ball does not hook even after a proper cleaning than you could try resurfacing it. Again, if that doesn’t work than a trip to your local pro shop is highly recommended. But just because a bowling ball you own that you know should hook suddenly stops, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it anymore.

Will any bowling ball hook?

Yes. Provided that you yourself know how to hook a bowling ball. I myself have been bowling off and on for a few years and still don’t know how to hook a ball. But honestly, I don’t try right now.

Hooking is caused by catching the friction on the lanes. You don’t need to get a bowling ball that is made of a Reactive Resin in order to be able to hook a bowling ball. Once you learn how to hook even a house bowling ball, imagine how easy it will be to hook a bowling ball made to hook and catch the lane.

What causes a bowling ball to hook?

Balling balls hook through gaining friction that enables them to grip the bowling lanes. The friction causes the bowling ball to grip the lane correctly and therefore catch appropriately. This is achieved by the coverstock of the bowling ball. Since lanes differ even in the alleys themselves as do oil patterns, bowlers normally have more than 1 type of bowling ball. This is to maximize their chances of keeping up with the changing lane conditions during the game and the many different oil patterns they encounter.

Any type of bowling ball can hook

To get maximum ease in hooking, you can get a ball with a reactive-resin coverstock and then have it drilled in a way that makes hooking the ball easier if you know how the inner core works in your bowling ball. You need to master the proper technique, grip and have patience. Take your time.

Tip- Have a visual of the line that you will take across the lane. Based on the amount of oil and the reaction of your ball to various lane conditions, you may need to line up your feet a bit onto the left-hand side of the lane.

To customize your bowling ball to hook, get the right equipment, the right ball made of reactive resin or much better such as particle load, use the proper grip and have your balls drilled the right way.

Signs that your balling ball is losing its hook

First, when you throw your bowling ball you realize that when it comes back it’s very slick, and there is no amount of wiping that will help. You notice that it slides and doesn’t grip down the lane, and it misses the pocket.

When your bowling ball is not hooking when thrown due to the coverstock absorbing more oil than average it is a sign that your bowing ball is in need of serious maintenance. Another sign when your ball has lost all its reaction capabilities is when you throw it and it goes everywhere but where you threw it.

How long do bowling balls last?

A new bowling ball can last for at least ten years or more as long it is properly maintained. It has the potential to continue for 300 or more games. When conditions for maintaining your bowling ball are met, such as keeping it at ambient temperatures when you are not using it, it helps lengthen the life of your bowling ball.

 If you want to extend the lifespan of a bowling ball while you aren’t using it, you should store it at room temperature and keep it from extreme cold or hot conditions. You can also help your ball last longer by doing regular maintenance and protecting the surface of your bowling ball. Proper maintenance is a crucial way of making your ball last longer for more than a few years.

How to know when a bowling ball is dead

Is your bowling ball dead?

When you want to know when your bowling ball is dead you can carry out a test on the tackiness of a ball, for example, when you try to palm a ball and try sliding your fingers on its surface you will realize that on a dead bowling ball there is a lot of oil on it. There is less resistance to your fingers when sliding on its surface. Another indicator of a dead bowling ball is when you throw your ball a few times and it comes back, and you realize that it is very slick. A complete resurface and replicating factory finishes are helpful when the ball is saturated with the lane conditioner.

 A bowling ball hooks by basically grabbing the lane. When the ball is dead, it has a difficult time doing this since the coverstock is absorbing the oil from the lane. You can also know when a ball is dead even by just looking at it. If you bought the ball new and it had a dull finish but now has a shiny finish. Old balls cannot die as they can be restored cheaply by cleaning inside and out regularly and bring them into awesome shots.

The time a bowling ball is regarded as dead is when it is cracked either when splitting at or near the bridge, you cannot bring it back to its original capability.

Do bowling balls wear out?

A bowling ball wears out when it has a reduction in its performance due to poor cleaning and maintenance. Some things influence the life of a bowling ball, such as oil absorption and surface wear.

As long as your ball is well maintained and doesn’t crack, it can get a more extended lifetime without wearing out. A cracked bowling ball is not considered as dynamic since it has less performance, and shouldn’t even be used in a bowling alley since it could severely damage the lane its thrown on. If you want to increase the life span of your ball and reduce wearing out, you should make a regular visit to your pro shop and polish your shot when it has lost its capabilities.

Can I save my bowling ball?

If your bowling ball has cracked then, no, you can’t save it. However, you can save your ball by maintaining it through regular cleaning and periodic resurfacing. It is recommended that you clean and resurface your bowling ball by yourself. For starters, it saves you money, and you can apply the necessary care, eliminate dependence on professionals, and fully immerse yourself into the hobby. However, you need the right equipment.

Coverstock maintenance tips: How to keep your bowling ball hook

The bowling balls collect a lot of dirt, dust, and oils from the lane, which can affect their performance if not maintained. You do not want to lose your bowling ball hook out of poor maintenance. For starters, you should clean the bowling ball with a cleaner to reduce oil absorption. These should be done every time after use.

After about ten games, re-polish scuff or shiny balls with bowling ball sanding pads. Then after roughly 30 sets of play, clean the ball with liquid dish detergent. It is recommended to use a bar of soap with a decreasing agent for the best results and a deep clean. After about sixty, 60 games of play, have a full resurface that should be professionally done, or just by yourself.

You should repeat the above steps for the following or next intervals of 68-80 games of bowling. If there are any visible cracks on the ball, talk to your pro shop for the refreshment of the ball to refinish the ball. This will remove the tracked up section on the surface of the bowling ball and restore it to the original factory finish. Coverstock maintenance is, therefore, all about cleaning every time after use and resurfacing periodically. It restores the pores of the ball, which allows it to grip the lane and hook appropriately.

Materials for coverstock maintenance

  • A bowling sanding pad – These pads are all you will need and they’re inexpensive.
  • The bowling ball cup to make the resurfacing process simple and less strenuous. The Brunswick rotating cup is a bit more expensive than the Ebonite cup, but the Brunswick cup has the ability to have your bowling ball spin while with the Ebonite cup your bowling ball just sits there.
  • Water. At times, it is mostly included in the spinner. You use the water to take care of the dust and reduce friction between your hands.
  • Compound, cleaner, and polish to ensure that the ball comes out looking fresh after sanding. After resurfacing, your bowling ball is still likely to have some oil and dirt from the lane or debris from the resurfacing process, and therefore these products come in to make the ball come out clean and looking fresh.
  • Towels and polishing pads. Use different pillows and towels for your compound, cleaner, and polish.

The procedure for resurfacing your ball is generally straightforward and easy. It is not a rocket science aspect, but it does require some technical knowledge and care in handling during resurfacing.

  1. Decide on the results that you require and place your bowling ball in the spinner. You should first decide on the grit to use and then position your ball in the spinner. It is the most common sanding technique, no matter the choice of courage. The positioning of the ball should cross the sand at a 90-degrees angle from the original pattern of the ball’s sanding. Place the bowling ball with the center of its grip at the top in the spinner, and then start sanding. When you are done with that particular surface, rotate the ball 180-degrees and another 90 to ensure that you are sanding all of the coverstock of the ball.
  2. Wet your sanding pads and ball to protect friction between your ball and the sanding pad. It also keeps off the dust and rinses loose particles away, therefore, making your sanding to be more consistent.
  3. Set the spinner speed. When sanding, set to the lowest rate and change to the highest speed when applying your polish or compound.
  4. Use your palm to hold the sanding pad to avoid getting your fingers stuck in the gripping holes. Apply the right pressure. Apply more pressure with lower grits or less weight for long when you are using higher grits.
  5. Change your grit depending on your results, but make sure to sand the entire ball using one grit level before proceeding to the next.
  6. Apply the compound evenly to ensure your ball gets full contact with the lane as you continue to rotate the ball.
  7. Polish the ball using a different cloth to give the ball a sharp reaction on the back end of the lane. Finally, clean it by just spraying the cleaner on the ball and wipe it using another cloth without forgetting the gripping holes.


Bowling balls lose their hook as a result of the oil and dirt collected from the lanes. You should, therefore, wipe your bowling ball down every time after use and do period resurfacing to get rid of the dirt, oil, and dust from the coverstock, and thus maintain the hooking potential.

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