When it’s time to hit the lanes, you want to make sure that your ball is up to your skill level. If you’re new to the sport, however, it can be hard to figure out which ball is the best for you. We’ve rounded up a few of the best for your perusal, and then we’ll get into what makes each one great.
For the average person the Brunswick Rhino Bowling Ball is probably the best around. It comes with a reactive resin coverstock and is available in a ton of colors and weights, if you’re looking to get that hook at long last then you’ll be well served with the Rhino.
There are a lot of balls out there though, and each has its own perks and disadvantages. Let’s get right in with five of our favorites and then we’ll discuss how to make sure you end up with the best of the best for your playing style and lane.
Top 5 Bowling Balls
|Brunswick Rhino Bowling Ball||10lbs-16lbs||Reactive Resin||Check Price|
|Hammer Bowling Black Widow Gold||12-16lbs||Particle||Check Price|
|Pyramid Path Rising Pearl||6lbs-16lbs||Reactive Resin||Check Price|
|Brunswick Tzone Deep Space||6lbs-16lbs||Urethane||Check Price|
|Pyramid Path||6lbs-16lbs||Polyester||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Bowling Ball
Brunswick Rhino Bowling Ball
When it comes down to it a resin ball with a great core is the way to go if you’re getting your first custom ball. This one has a slight hook which many people will find perfect for learning the ropes.
The Rhino has an excellent core and seems to flow quite well, in addition to having an excellent range of weights and colors which should help to convince anyone that it’s a great choice for the first custom ball for the amateur bowler who’s looking to get into league play.
The ball doesn’t have a particularly hard curve, and it’s not going to be the favorite for those who are already pulling great hooks.
The price is also great for the type of ball and it just might be the thing to get your game to the next level.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent ball for beginners
- Great value for the price
- Good for learning to hook
- Wide range of weights and colors
- Not suitable for high-level players
- Could have more hook
2. Best High End Bowling Ball
Hammer Bowling Black Widow Gold
If you’re looking to get an expert level ball and learn to take the time to handle it then you’ll be well served with the Black Widow. It has an excellent core and the stock gives it an incredible backend hook.
Newbies beware, however, this ball is going to act much differently from the alley balls you’re probably used to and it’ll take a few rounds to start to get the hang of it. The simple fact is that it has a lot more hook than you’re probably expecting if you’ve never had a custom ball before.
It’s also not great when it comes to handling lanes without much oil, so it’s not the go-to if your local alley isn’t kept up super well.
If you’re looking for a professional level ball, however, this is the one that you’ve been waiting for. Just be prepared for a bit of a learning curve.
Pros and Cons
- Huge backend hook
- Available in a range of weights and colors
- High-quality coverstock
- Famous branded core
- Not very newbie friendly
3. Best Bowling Ball for Women and Children
Pyramid Path Rising Pearl Bowling Ball
With the widest possible range of different weights and a surprising amount of colors, this ball is perfect for women and children who might need a lighter ball. As a general rule of thumb, most women use balls from 10-14lbs and children can usually handle about a pound per year of age.
The reactive resin on this ball means that even though it comes in lighter sizes it’s no slouch though. It has a nice hook to it and it’s a great entry-level ball although experts might want to go with something with a bit more grip.
Newbie friendly, high-quality, and reasonably priced this ball is excellent. We even found that it works alright for straight shooting despite the resin cover, although it’s obviously optimal for hooks instead.
If you’re looking for a ball that comes in smaller sizes you can really learn with, then you’re in the right place with this one.
Pros and Cons
- Suitable for almost any style of shooting
- Comes in weights great for kids and women
- One of the best entry level balls around
- Ideal for medium-dry lanes
- Could have more hook
- Not the best at either straight or hook shots
4. Best Bowling Ball for Straight Bowling
Brunswick Tzone Deep Space
If you’re just tired of house balls but don’t want to commit to learning how to hook you’ll do great with this urethane coated ball. It floats with remarkable accuracy, shooting straighter than any house ball you’ll find but it’s not really well suited for those who are looking to get a handle on hooks.
It also comes in a wide variety of sizes and is remarkably cheap overall. Think recreational rather than league play and you’ll be on the right path when it comes to this one.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as high-quality as most of those we took a look at. We heard reports of the ball chipping pretty easily, although we didn’t experience it ourselves, and while it’s newbie-friendly it also doesn’t leave a lot of room for growth.
If you’re planning on keeping that straight shot going, however, this is the ball that you’ve been looking for. It’ll outperform your usual house balls by a long shot, just don’t expect it to teach you how to hook.
Pros and Cons
- Shoots remarkably straight
- Comes in sizes suitable for women and children
- High-gloss finish is great for dry lanes
- Tons of color options
- Coverstock feels a bit fragile
- Not suitable for hook shots
5. Best Budget Bowling Ball
Pyramid Path Bowling Ball
For something this cheap, the Pyramid Path delivers quite a bit of value. It shoots remarkably straight, as long as the lane is dry, and might just be the best spend you’ll find if you’re not into competitive play.
It comes in a few different colors, although our favorites were blacklight reactive, and it’s definitely a sight above the beat up balls which you’ll find in most alleys. On top of that, it’s remarkably newbie-friendly, designed almost entirely for straight shots.
It’s not without some drawbacks: you’re not going to be hooking this ball and it tends to get a bit slidey with even a moderate coat of oil on the lane.
On the other hand, if you just want a custom ball of your own and aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to the sport just yet then you’ll be in good hands with this exceptionally cheap, straight shooting ball.
Pros and Cons
- Shoots remarkably straight
- UV reactive colors available
- Tons of sizes
- Really cheap for a custom ball
- Absolutely not for learning hook shots
- Colors in photos are a bit misleading
The Advantage of Custom Bowling Balls
Many people who bowl regularly do fine with house balls. For the most part, it’s not a bad way to do things at all if you just want to have a couple of beers and enjoy playing.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to get a real competitive edge in a league then you’re going to have to get a custom ball sooner or later. There’s no way around it: a custom ball can be tailored for your style, your grip, and your hand size and arm strength in a way you won’t be able to get with a house ball or pre-drilled ball.
The biggest advantage comes in both comfort and consistency. Both of these are pretty much required to reach the higher levels of the sport and if you’re into the competition and not just messing around in the lanes with family or friends then you pretty much need a bowling ball which is tooled for your hands and preferences.
Why Buy a Bowling Ball Online?
If you’re here then chances are you’re looking to buy a bowling ball online. It’s not a bad idea, but there’s a reason many people opt to purchase them in shops: shops can usually drill your ball at the same time as you buy it.
If you’re planning on handling things at home or don’t mind getting a ball for a discount price and then taking it in however, then you’ll be quite pleased with an online purchase. Bowling ball shops are specialty stores with high overhead, which means a large markup on their products when you go in.
Of course, you won’t be able to try a similar ball when you purchase one online, but if you’re willing to arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge then you’ll be in good hands in the long run.
The truth is that most bowlers will eventually get a few different balls for different lane conditions and styles anyways, so if the first one you get isn’t perfectly suited there’s no reason to send it back: just try another one.
We’re here to help you try and make the right choice the first time, however, so read on and we’ll help you decide which way to go for your own individual style and physique.
Straight or Hook?
Your first decision when you’re looking for a custom bowling ball is to make sure that you know your shooting style. The grip and such can be figured out when you get it drilled, but before that you’ll want to account for your own shooting style.
Most amateurs shoot straight. If you’re rolling the ball directly into the pins then you’re actually in luck: you may not be bowling 300 anytime soon but the balls which are best suited for this style of bowling are actually quite a bit cheaper.
A good hook is the key to professional play. When you hook a ball you apply spin to the sides, which puts the ball on a curved trajectory. This wider curve has an incredible amount of strike potential due to the way it hits the pins.
If you’re looking to actively improve your scores and you’re playing on lanes which are the least bit oiled, then you’re going to need to learn how to hook the ball properly. There’s a reason you don’t see any professionals playing it straight.
Hooks can be hard to pull off but the risk-reward factor is much higher than the way that most amateurs bowl.
Picking a Material
The surfaces of bowling balls come in three main materials. Polyurethane is usually just referred to as plastic, but there are some cheaper models out there which shoot remarkably straight. There are also reactive resin and particle balls available.
For most amateurs, the choice is going to be between plastic and resin, since particulate balls are really only suitable for heavily oiled lanes and they’ll act quite iffy when you’re not on a properly prepped surface.
Polyurethane is more durable and tends to roll faster than reactive resin balls. For the beginner or amateur who isn’t planning on competing it’s probably the best option out there, but it lacks some of the hook potential of resin balls. They’re also quite a bit cheaper on average.
If you’re learning to hook, go with a reactive resin ball. Due to the cover material they tend to have a lot more “grip” which allows you to get a better hook when you’re using the ball. They’re generally more expensive and if you’re usually playing in a low-end bowling alley then you may want to skip them as they can be unpredictable for beginners on lanes which aren’t properly prepared.
Particulate balls are mostly suitable for competition play, and will react oddly on low oil surfaces. These balls have a grainy feel to them and are generally the best for hooking, but chances are that if you’re at the skill level they’re appropriate you’ve already been looking for the right one.
Decide on the type of ball before you go any further in picking what you need, as it’s the determining factor for the rest of what you’re going to be doing.
The weight of the ball is the second crucial factor. For those of us who are used to only using house balls, it can be a bit surprising when we get one which is properly acquainted for our grip.
The general rule of thumb is that you can handle a custom ball which is two pounds heavier than a house ball, but there are a wide variety of ways which people have used over the years to figure out what size of ball is best for them.
One of the easiest ways is to grab a dumbbell around the weight of the ball you’re planning on using. Mimic the bowling motion 23 times and see how tired your arm is.
Bowling balls go up to sixteen pounds, and that’s what the majority of pros use, but you’re doing yourself a massive disservice if you just decide to go as heavy as possible and your arm isn’t able to maintain full control through the duration of the process.
High or Low Mass?
In general, when people want to get a custom bowling ball they’re usually doing so while they learn to hook. If that’s the case, then a low mass ball is the way to go since it promotes an easier hook.
On the other hand, high mass balls tend to get a lot more length as they go down the lane which makes them more suitable for those who tend to bowl in a straight line as opposed to going for the hook.
This is the last of the major factors which you need to decide on when you’re looking at a ball and the rest of it will come down to a lot of personal preference and experimentation.
Getting Your Bowling Ball Drilled
You’ll notice that all of the balls we recommend lack holes.
This wasn’t an oversight on our part, when you invest in a serious bowling ball you’re going to want to get the holes drilled according to your grip-type and hand-size.
For the most part, we recommend going to a shop in your area to get this done. It can certainly be done in the comfort of your own home, but professionals are more likely to get things just right.
Professionals take into account a ton of different factors in order to make sure that your ball is properly done.
Remember to account for depth depending on how you grip the ball as well, if you’re going to spend the money on a custom bowling ball it only makes sense to ensure that you’ve got things exactly right rather than just hoping for the best after spending the money.
Bowling Ball Maintenance
It might not be the first thing that pops to mind, but if you’re going to invest a considerable amount of money in a bowling ball then it makes sense to take care of it.
We recommend making sure you do all of the following to make sure your ball stays in the best shape possible:
- Use a solution of isopropyl alcohol, Simple Green, and water in a 1:1:1 mixture for wiping down the ball after games. This is especially important if the lane you’re using is well oiled.
- Every 7-10 games you’ll want to drop the ball in hot water with some dish soap and soak it for around twenty minutes to help keep the oils off of the surface.
- It’s an unfortunate fact of life that your ball is going to begin to lose life no matter how well you clean it. When this happens, generally around the 30-60 game mark, you’ll need to take it to a ball to be “refreshed.” This process is pretty much impossible to do in your own home, so make sure you know where the nearest shop is.
- For the most consistent results, bring a microfiber towel with you and use it to wipe off the ball after every shot. This will help keep the ball performing the same through the whole game.
- If your ball starts to act particularly oddly, you may need to have it resurfaced at a pro shop as well.
In general, you should keep an eye on what your ball is doing, but if you treat it right you may be able to go for a longer period of time with less issues than we described above.
When you’re looking to bowl at a higher level it’s time to make sure that you’ve got a great ball to go with your increasing skill level. While the whole affair might seem a bit confusing for the beginner, it’s not nearly as hard as you might think.
For the average amateur looking to improve we recommend the Brunswick Rhino Bowling Ball, it’s suitable for most lane types and it’s got enough grip that you can start developing a real hook without losing too much control on drier lanes.
There are a lot of balls out there though, and finding the right one can take a long time. Any of our picks are high-quality, so get one, drill your holes, and hit the lanes with your new favorite toy. In the end it’ll be well worth it.