A lighter Bowling Ball May Help You

A lighter bowling ball may help you to enjoy the game of bowling more. If you feel like you have been run over by a truck each time you get done bowling, then switching to a lighter bowling ball may help you to feel a lot better.

A lighter Bowling Ball May Help You

I have a bad back, and it affects my hip and my knees as well. About 20 years ago, I was using a 16lb bowling ball. I was a younger man then and it was no problem.

I used a 16lb ball for years and  I bowled 4-5 days a week. It was just macho to be using the heaviest ball allowed.

All the bowlers were using 16lb balls and bowling very well with them.The heavier ball carried the pins better, so you got more strikes.

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A Lighter Ball Makes Bowling Easier

Things change dramatically once you have a back injury. That heavy ball becomes your enemy as your age increases as well.

You wind up going home like I said earlier, like you were run over by a truck, Literaly!

Read on to find out why.

A Light or Heavy Bowling Ball?

Why did the heavier balls carry better?  Well, if the pins weight 3-1/2lbs each, then hitting them with 16lbs of weight surely would give a better deflection.

Heavy balls send pins flying harder, resulting in knocking more pins down(at the same speed) than a 15lb or 14lb ball would.

Imagine a truck impacting a small car, the car loses, because the bigger, heavier truck has more mass or weight.

That is true, because it is a law of physics, that weight and speed affect the force of mass. I will tell you, I have thrown a 14lb ball for at least 10 years.

I have noticed that as I have reduced my ball weight over the years, my single pin leaves did increase for a while at first.

But I did learn how to overcome that(I still get some!) and not get near as many.

Lighter is Better as we Get Older

As I got used to the ball, my average got even better than it was before I switched to the lighter ball. I am able to bowl all night in comfort, and feel good the next day as well.

A Lighter Ball May Help You-man bowling in street cartoon

In fact I was able to increase the number of days that I bowled from 1 to 3 each week. So, it is a choice I gladly make, to reduce my pain, and make the game more enjoyable.

You need to be able to control the ball, and maintain accuracy without being exhausted after one game.

If you are experiencing this, try going to a lighter ball, and see if it helps your back, knees and maybe reduce you finger pain and help you feel a little better.

A Little Speed Goes a Long Way

What I found, is that if I increased the speed slightly, the carry improved and I got more strikes, as long as I was accurate on my shot.That being said, it really depends upon the oil pattern or conditions that particular night you are bowling. One night you have to play a little slower, or a straighter ball may carry pins better.

Learn How to Play the Lanes

Sometimes, you may have to play the outside of the lane, throwing harder to get the ball to strike. This is exactly why, as you get better at hook bowling, in reality it actually gets harder or more challenging for you!

The reason is because you know so much more about how the oil affects your hook. You realize that you must make adjustments to get that 4-5 degree angle that produces strikes. Most likely your average will have improved, and that also makes it more difficult.

Accuracy is the Key

I have also found that if you make good shots, the pins will fall and you can get a lot of strikes with the lighter ball. The trick is, you must be a bit more accurate, because the weight change of the lighter ball made my side to side adjustments much smaller.

I also noticed that because of my lighter ball, the amount of deflection is more, and sometimes for me a little bit lighter hit carries more ten pins. Now that’s me, and it may be a bit different for your style. Bowl how you bowl best, don’t listen to everyone else. If you practice good mechanics, when you bowl in competition, you will score better.

Adjustments are Smaller With a Lighter Bowling Ball

Bowling with my 16lb ball, I would sometimes make a 2-board move with my feet and one board move on the alley in the same direction. However, when using my 14lb ball, I rarely move more than one board if any at all for all three games all night in leagues.

I think that when I was throwing the heavier ball, I had a tough time keeping it on the same board, but that is much easier with a lighter ball.

If you happen to need a bit more speed on any given night of bowling, it is made easier by the reduced weight of the lighter ball. I also feel in my opinion, that the 14lb ball does not normally get to a point of hooking almost out of control, like my 16lb balls used to feel like.

A Lighter Ball is More Controllable

This may be because I am able to control the speed much easier. I remember seven board moves because my old 16lb ball was hooking that much! Some of that was likely because I was getting fatigued from that 16lb ball. And by the third game, I just couldn’t keep the speed up where I started at.

But, the bottom line is this, if you can’t comfortably throw the heavier ball, then you need a lighter ball. For instance, say you throw the 16lb ball for the first game and bowl fine. Then, the second game you are feeling a bit tired, and the third game is just a struggle to get through, a lighter bowling ball will help you.

Maybe You Can’t Throw That Heavy Ball Anymore

As we get older, our muscle mass slowly disappears, and we just don’t have the strength we had in our younger days. So like it or not, it becomes necessary at times to go to a lighter bowling ball. Maybe you don’t even notice that you are not throwing as fast as you used to throw?

When the pattern breaks down, it becomes easier to add more speed to a lighter bowling ball. Later into the 3rd game, when fatigue would set in it makes a difference. The oil is mostly gone, and the lanes become very loose.

Loose lanes simply means the ball is hooking more and more on each shot. Now, with the lighter ball, fatigue is not as much of a problem. Talk to your local pro shop, see if they might agree.


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10 thoughts on “A lighter Bowling Ball May Help You”

  1. I agree. I’m 64 and just started bowling again after a 30 year lay off. I started with 15LB but quickly learned that it was a strain to my elbow / arm / wrist . Number one I am retired so I bowl “a lot”. Maybe too much, but I love the sport. I hurt my wrist so went out and bought 13 LB balls. Wow … made bowling easy and fun again. Then I bought a few 14 LB balls. All good. I also have a few 15LB balls that I use on occasion. YES I can throw them and score pretty good. But also my speed is way down and well ……….. it’s nice to be able to comfortably throw the bowling ball, generate good speed and feel good. I kept a spread sheet. Score wise, I scored higher actually with the lighter weights. So there ya go. ENJOY THE GAME and use what works for you to help you enjoy it. Also your body will thank you. I’d sooner use a lighter ball and be able to bowl than use a heavier ball and have to sit at home with a sore wrist / or back.

    • Hi Ben,
      Anything that make the game more enjoyable is good. I haven’t been bowling since the virus shut down our alleys, just doing all the stuff i never had the time for. I like my 14lb ball because it is comfortable for me to bowl with. 15lb is just too heavy for bowling regularly. I like the 14lb because I can do so much more with it. But, I have to be careful I don’t bowl too much…My back and SI joint will let me pretty quick!
      Thanks for taking the time to drop a line! Enjoy your retirement!

      • It didn’t take long for me to see the ball I bought was to heavy ..I haven’t bowled since my cancer l lost so much weight and muscle …I had no clue I was that weak ? So I will get me a correctly drilled ball..maybe a “crypto”.

        • Hi Buddy,
          Things change in our lives and sometimes going to a lighter ball becomes necessary. As we get older we lose muscle mass more than we realize. I just got a gym membership for the first time in my life, and I am 71. I thought I was too old to be doing that! But, you know what, I took it serious and gave it 45 mins 4 or 5 days a week, and I feel great.If you can possibly do it I would highly recommend it! Just go as slow as you need to, don’t rush it! I started with the lightest weights on the machines! And took my time increasing the weights. You will get there!

  2. just remember that a 16 lb ball will require or use up more energy when it hits the apex of your shot. you have to change the direction of the ball, and a 14 lb ball will change direction easier than a 16 lb ball. the key is to get the best angle of entry to the pocket which is between 3 and 5 degrees with the most energy the ball can create.. do the math and watch the pin reaction….also know that a ball that hooks less will maintain its energy longer than a big hooking ball….as long as you can maintain the angle of entry. any one for golf.

    • Hi David,
      You are correct about the heavier ball! But, personally I can’t use more than 14lb. I will say one thing I noticed about the 16lb balls. I tended to get fatigued with the heavier balls, and would slow my ball speed without realizing it. As the lanes got drier, I would reach a point where i couldn’t throw the ball with enough speed, to keep it from running on the back end. The heavy ball wore me out, because I tend to throw hard. I can keep the speed more consistent with my 14lb ball and it has made the game more enjoyable for me. Another thing is I had no choice but to reduce my ball weight due to back problems from my occupation.
      It makes perfect sense for a ball that hooks more to use up more energy, you can see it sometimes, it will flatten out before it hits the pins.
      Honestly, the heavier balls offer more pin carry, and allow you a bit more area.
      Thanks for the comment! Please stop back.

  3. I am looking to try and learn to hook but not sure if a lighter ball would be better to start with. Im thinking of a 13lb so what do you think of starting weights?

    • Hi Timothy,
      I don’t know your age so I am just going to generalize. It depends on how heavy a ball you feel comfortable with. I would stick with whatever weight you are throwing currently. If you are just starting, then try the different weights in house balls available on the ball racks in the bowling alley. Find out what weight you are comfortable throwing for three games. Most people start a bit lighter then increase the weight over the years to the heaviest(16lb) they can comfortably throw. The heavier ball carries better. I didn’t get a lighter ball when I started to hook the ball and I was in my twenties throwing a 16lb ball.

      As I got older I reduced the weight and currently use a 14lb ball. I also deal with back problems from my occupation, not related to bowling. The lighter ball allowed me to keep bowling.

      If you are buying your first ball, I have some approximate weights for different body weights and ages here in How to Buy a Bowling Ball Made Easy.
      I hope that helps Tim, and please contact me if you have any other questions! Good Luck and have fun!

  4. I am doing a research project to do the science fair the question is
    does the weight of the ball effect how many pins fall down and my hypothesis is that the lighter ball will work and this helps me plenty to support my hypothesis so thank you whoever made this

    • Hi Hailey,
      Well, the theory always was that the heavier ball will hit the pins with more force because of it’s weight alone compared to the lighter ball. But, speed is a factor as well. So, if the 16lb ball is too heavy for you, then you will roll it more slowly and it will have less impact force. I use a 14lb ball and I can handle throwing it much harder, than a 16lb ball. The speed increase creates a harder hit than a slow rolling 14lb ball.Therefore, I can generate pretty good pin carry with a faster ball speed and lighter ball. Hope that helps! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciated it!


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