Ever wondered what bowling balls are actually made of? I bet many of us just arrive at the bowling alley and we simply start playing. If you play at a professional level, you might have delved a little deeper into this topic, but for some, they simply just never ask the question. It is intriguing to see what is inside a bowling ball and dive a little deeper.
With some research and a little bit of expert advice, we have found some of the information that you might be looking for. In this article, we will not only discuss the basic bowling balls but look at a few of the top bowling balls as well. You will have a complete guide to show you the deeper side of the bowling ball and perhaps gain a better understanding of the game as a result.
Table of Contents
A Little History Of The Bowling Ball:
If we take a trip down memory lane and look at the cartoons like The Flinstones, we see that bowling balls look like they were made from stone. However, that was not the case. Some of the earliest bowling balls were actually constructed from wood and they were a little smoother and smaller than the modern balls we know today.
Eventually, rubber was discovered and the wooden balls were eventually phased out, making room for a slightly larger bowling ball. The rubber bounced a little more, but you can imagine how hard it would have been to control the balls. Around the 1950s polyester became the main material used for bowling balls, making them somewhat more controllable and allowing them to have less resistance.
As we moved closer to the 20th Century, we find that bowling ball coverstocks have evolved even more. With polyester evolving into polyurethane, we could get back some of the curve that was lost with the integration of polyester. Most modern bowling balls have either a polyester or polyurethane coverstock for the outer coating.
What Is A Bowling Ball Made Of?
Before we get into all of the meaty facts and the words that hardly any beginner will understand, we need to take a basic look at the bowling ball. Here is a small summary of what every bowling ball is made of:
- Core: There are various types of cores, but the cores are one of the major aspects that sit in the middle of the bowling ball.
- Coverstock: The coverstock is the outside or protective layer. Not only does it protect the bowling ball, but reacts to various conditions of the lanes.
- Fillers: If you look at some of the older or beginner bowling balls, you might find some filler materials added as well.
The bowling ball is far more complicated than this simple summary, as you will see. However, this is simply the three main elements that make up every bowling in the modern era.
The Modern Bowling Ball Coverstock:
As mentioned, we have been left with two types of coverstocks that are now commonly used for bowling balls. The polyurethane and the polyester coverstocks are the most common, but they do vary slightly in price. However, the core will also play a massive role in the price of the bowling ball. Here is a small breakdown of the polyester and the polyurethane coverstocks:
While it has been proven that polyurethane is much better, many manufacturers are still using the polyester for the coverstock. It is cheaper and much more manageable for beginners to start out with. The polyester, also referred to as plastic, coverstock does not have the same reactive effects and it tends to go a little straighter.
The polyester bowling balls do not have as much friction. This means that players who like to play a slow game will prefer a polyester ball. They are commonly used today as well and are still a major part of big competitions. The polyester will still react in heavy and medium-oil lanes, but the reactions will happen a little farther down the lane.
The urethane balls have a little more friction to them. They are used by beginners as well, but the more advanced player might prefer using one of them for the value it adds. Since they have more friction and will not skid as much, they have more hooking potential than a standard polyester bowling ball. This allows players to play from different angles.
Since players who have a slow game might find themselves on lanes that have less oil, they might also prefer the urethane balls for their games. Since the ball has more friction, it will slow down a wee bit when you have a straight shot. Many of the older players without the speed of the younger players might prefer this for better accuracy.
Particle Coverstock (Advanced Urethane):
One of the latest inventions is the particle coverstock. It is not as popular as the other two but has garnered a lot of attention. This is basically the same as the urethane coverstock, but with microscopic particles being added to the resin. These microscopic particles can give the bowling ball a little more friction and allow you to get greater hooking potential.
The downside to this is that beginners won’t really be using these bowling balls. Since they already have such a massive hooking potential and you only need to learn to get it straight down the lane, it does not really phase beginners. Many experts also don’t like this, but it is something that scientists are experimenting with to perhaps make bowling even more technical.
Keep In Mind: You should also note that the balls to take a lot of practice and when you play with a urethane ball, you might need to put in some extra time to find the right angle. You need to spend some time to get the ball to hook at the right time and precise location. There are also many variables that you need to keep in mind. These included the oil on the lane and the speed at which you deliver the ball.
Two-Piece Vs Three-Piece Bowling Balls:
Bowling balls have historically been classified as 2 or 3-piece bowling balls. This was always historically accurate. However, modern technology has changed it up a bid and you might often find a 2-piece bowling ball being made with up to 4 pieces. However, you should understand why they were named this way before we get to the different types of cores:
- Two-Piece: The 2-piece bowling ball is the most common of the 2 and generally takes the least amount of construction. This one mainly consists of a simple inner core and a coverstock. The coverstock is rather thick in these bowling balls.
- Three-Piece: The 3-piece bowling ball is a little different and it has more weight to it. Since the weight generally leans to one of the sides to give you more hook, we have some filler materials added. The 3-piece bowling ball will have a coverstock, a core, and some filler materials.
As mentioned, modern technology means that bowling balls are now designed mechanically and they might have more parts to them. This might lead to them having more parts. However, they are still referred to as the standard 2 or 3-piece bowling balls. The 2-piece bowling balls are generally better when it comes to performance and have a better weight distribution.
The Inner Core Of The Bowling Ball Explained:
The outer coverstock or protective layer of the bowling ball is not the only part that matters. Once we open up the bowling ball, there is an entirely new journey that we take and completely different designs you need to understand. The bowling ball can be comprised of several cores and each of them has its own features that could work with you or against you. Here are the common bowling ball cores explained:
The pancake cores are one of the most common cores and it is generally referred to as a pancake core with the small amount of weight that is added to the one side. These are more like pucks than pancakes and they can have a little bit of an imbalance. They have a lot of filler materials also included that could make their movement unpredictable.
One of their defining features is the lack of separation from the pin or the low RG’s to the core. They also don’t allow users to drill the holes where they feel like it and might lack a little bit of customization. To make it simpler, these are the type of bowling balls you will commonly find at your bowling alley that is used by beginners
Pancake cores might also be symmetrical, but most bowling expert will not regard them as being symmetrical. The common type of symmetrical core is the light bulb core. These larger cores are similar on both sides of the central axis of the bowling ball. You will also see two types of symmetrical cores once you dive a little deeper and get more technical. The axisymmetric geometry and the non-axisymmetric geometry:
Since these factors are not really relevant, unless you are trying to develop your own bowling ball, we have not decided to dive deep into them. The only real difference they do make is when you are drilling your holes, but the ball will still run the same way down the lane with other things having more of an effect on your game.
The other common core you will need to deal with is the asymmetrical core and these can be very complicated. These cores vary greatly in terms of shape and how they look. However, they might have an effect on the balance of the bowling ball. The asymmetrical core is not one of the cores you would want to start playing with.
One of the biggest differences between the asymmetrical and symmetrical core is the way the ball is drilled. The symmetrical cores are mostly drilled with most of the weight close to the user. The opposite is true when we start looking at the asymmetrical core. However, all of these things will be discussed by your local club professional.
Why Does My Bowling Ball Have A Different Core Name?
There are basically only three different cores that you will find in almost any bowling ball. The three above-mentioned cores are what all manufacturers will use when they are constructing a bowling ball. However, you should keep a few things in mind and this might be why your core does not say what type of core it is or it does not relate to what we discussed:
- Marketing: Much like the coverstock, the core is one of the major features that most brands rely on when they are marketing their bowling balls. For this reason, you will find brands that add their own name to the cores. However, it will eventually all translate to the above-mentioned core types.
- Drilling: Most brands will also promise how the holes can be drilled and this might not reveal the type of core that has been used. However, you should be able to find this out by simply looking at the drilling suggestions.
To get a more accurate interpretation of the core that has been used in your bowling ball, you are much better off taking it to one of the local experts at a bowling alley. These guys will drill the holes for you and they examine the entire structure of the bowling ball. As a beginner, you can be sure about your bowling ball.
If you have ever wondered what are bowling balls made of, you now have some of the answers. There are a couple more things for the technically astute professional, but we hope that beginners should have a basic understanding of the bowling ball. Let us know what you think in the comment section and if we missed any important parts of the bowling ball.