Why Use A Urethane Bowling Ball – People Hate Them

Why use a Urethane Bowling Ball? Urethane is known to give bowlers more control than plastic, and they have a more  consistent motion than the resin balls. They are ideal on medium to dry lanes compared to resin balls.

Resin balls tend to hook too much on a dry lane and become a beast to control. That being said, you can also have a urethane ball hooking a bit more than you like on a dry lane as well. When the lanes reach that point, then a plastic ball could be the answer. So, why do people hate urethane balls? Let’s find out.

Related: The Best Bowling Ball On Dry Lanes

What is Urethane?

Urethane, (or polyurethane) was one of the first bowling balls created that hooked. This was because urethane created more friction with the lane than the plastic bowling ball. It was a popular ball in the 1980’s because created greater entry angles and better pin carry when compared to the plastic ball.

Reactive resin balls (introduced in 1991) are also polyurethane, but contain particle additives and have more porosity (or holes) in the coverstock. These holes allow the balls to absorb or pick up oil, creating even more friction on the lanes. The result is even greater entry angles and more carry. This was the beginning of the high tech balls we see today.

Compared to the urethane balls of the 80’s, todays urethane balls are a much higher advanced bowling ball.

How Does A Urethane Bowling Ball React

Urethane balls hook earlier than plastic or Resin balls and have a very smooth mid-lane read and back end reaction. Because of their controllable nature they are commonly used on difficult patterns, wet/dry conditions and when the backends are hooking too much.

Urethane bowling balls need a tighter or more inside line on the lane than resin balls but allow for more front to back control (where it hooks on the lane). Urethane balls also transition the lane differently.

You can expect urethane bowling balls to take oil from the first 15 feet of the lane (not as much as resin). But, they also push oil down the lane called “carry down” making the bowler move right. While the resin ball absorbs the oil.

This is why (some) people hate them. It is a different adjustment when people bowl against urethane bowling balls.

What Conditions Is The Urethane Bowling Ball Good For?

The professionals like Belmo, use urethane on short patterns for backend control. The hook potential is still there. He can control the roll on his ball, by creating a more end-over-end roll to minimize the early hook of urethane. While still maintaining a smooth backend reaction.

Urethane still likes oil. A dry house shot will increase the hook of the urethane. If you had early hook with your resin ball, be prepared for the urethane to hook sooner. This of course is within limits. Some of the newer urethane balls are designed for dry lanes.

Normally, you want to move away from the transition oil with the resin ball and move into the transition with your urethane ball.

Should You Use A Urethane Ball?

If you are a beginner and you have been throwing a plastic ball, but now you want to try hooking a ball, your best bet is a urethane ball. They are more consistent and forgiving when you miss your mark a bit. They are the perfect ball to learn with.

But, make no mistake people at the intermediate level and even at the professional level also choose urethane balls. They know that urethane is very controllable in some demanding conditions. And today’s urethane balls are produced for quite a variety of lane conditions.

If you are an intermediate bowler and bowling on heavy oil conditions, then I would suggest a solid resin ball. You would get more reaction on the back end.

But, some seasoned intermediate bowlers would be able to bowl a straighter line and utilize the drier heads to gain sufficient hook to carry pins. It’s a matter of preference.

Why Use A Urethane Bowling Ball If They Are Being Banned?

The PBA decided to ban urethane balls older than two years from its manufacturing date after a continuing controversy around the hardness of urethane balls. It seems that urethane gets softer with use and thus is considered cheating after a certain period of time.

So, they changed the rules and banned urethane over two years old for PBA tournament play.

But, the USBC report on this subject, confirmed that the softness produced by use did alter the softness over time, but did not significantly affect the performance of the ball. They did note that using chemicals to induce softness did significantly change the performance.

New Urethane Bowling Balls

New urethane bowling balls are being released to qualify for the USBC rule changes.

At the very end of last year, 900 Global released the Zen/U. It is a medium oil ball that actually has a unique urethane cover + resin reactive added to deliver the best of both worlds.

Pros and Cons Of Urethane Bowling Balls


  • Bigger Surface Friction
  • Reliable Performance
  • Durable And Long Lasting
  • Oil Resistant


  • Less Hooking Ability Than Resin Balls
  • Get Slightly Softer With Use
  • Cause Oil Carry- Down

Frequently Asked Questions About Urethane Bowling Balls

Why Are urethane bowling balls being banned?
A continuing controversy about the hardness of urethane bowling balls caused a ban of all urethane balls older than 2 years past the manufacturing date.
Why Do Bowlers Complain About Urethane?
Urethane balls create more carry down oil because they don’t absorb oil like resin balls do. Then, the oil will collect on the surface and get deposited on the drier sections of the lane as the ball travels over that area creating the oil carry down.
Why are Purple Hammer Balls illegal?
USBC found a portion of the Purple Hammer bowling balls manufactured at the Ebonite International plant in 2017 were below USBC”s minimum hardness specification at that time of 72D.
Do Pro Bowlers Use Urethane Balls?
Yes, two-handed bowlers like Jason Belmonte like the extra control. Lefty Jakob Butturff has used urethane for years. However, the urethane balls the Pros use now must be manufactured after August 1st 2022.

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2 thoughts on “Why Use A Urethane Bowling Ball – People Hate Them”

  1. Hey Chas,

    Urethane bowling balls may not be the most popular among bowlers, but they do offer a unique set of advantages that can help you improve your game. With their more consistent motion and increased control, urethane balls are ideal for medium to dry lanes, making them a popular choice for both beginners and professionals alike. While they may not be suitable for all lane conditions, the right urethane ball can give you the precision and control you need to take your game to the next level.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Hi John,
      Most bowlers don’t even take the time to notice what other bowlers are using. But, I have noticed the difference when two or three bowlers are using urethane balls. They carry more oil onto the dry areas of the lane. With all the fuss happening in the pros, they may become obsolete in the future. Right now, you can’t use any urethane made before August of 22. They are illegal, because urethane gets softer over time and they don’t pass the hardness required by the ABC rules.
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, please stop back soon.


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