How to Choose a Bowling Ball at the Alley

Many serious bowlers own their own ball. But for those who do not, the vast majority of bowling alleys have a rack off to the side from which one can pick a ball (also known as a house ball).

It is important to find a house bowling ball that is a good fit for the bowler, as it can mean the difference between a game with a lot of high-fives, and one consisting of nothing but gutter balls.

The main characteristic that one should pay attention to when selecting a ball is its weight. Balls range in weight from 6 to 16 pounds.

While a lighter ball is easier to control and throw at a high rate of speed, one that is too light will not contain enough weight to produce the force needed to consistently produce strikes.

In addition, a light bowling ball will often rise into the air too much after the release, causing the ball to bounce down the lane and stray from its intended target. A heavier ball, however, can be difficult to control, and is often unpredictable, as it tends to slip out of one's grip at times.

At most bowling alleys, the weight of the ball is usually engraved on the outside covering, making it easy to choose one with the proper weight.

Another bowling ball attribute that should be checked is the size and positioning of the finger holes. They should be wide enough to allow the bowler's fingers to fit easily into them, but not so wide that the ball is difficult to grip. Also, the holes should not be so far apart that one cannot get enough of his fingers or thumb into them to gain a comfortable grip.

As the width and positioning of the finger holes in the house balls of the typical bowling alley are drilled in proportion to the balls' weight, it can be tricky at times to find a good match of weight and finger hole size, particularly if one has fingers that are unusually large or small.

Additionally, one should always check to see if there is any damage to the ball. Often, there will be large chips that are missing from some of the house balls, which can drastically affect the way the ball travels down the lane, altering its path. In addition, sometimes cracks can form in bowling balls, and it is not uncommon to see a bowling alley ball containing one or more of these, which can also affect one's score.

Bowlers should study a house ball carefully to make sure there is no damage before deciding to use it, as one doesn't want to start off a game with a disadvantage before the first ball has even been thrown.

One way that bowlers can avoid all of these pitfalls is to buy their own bowling ball. Many bowling alleys and sporting goods stores carry a wide selection of bowling balls in all price ranges, and often a knowledgeable salesperson will help a person on how to buy a bowling ball with the right fit.

Although someone who bowls once a year or less is probably not a good candidate, bowlers who would like to improve their score can help their game considerably by adding an element of consistency to their ball selection.

Bowlers should factor in weight, finger hole size, and the overall condition of the ball before deciding on a house ball at a bowling alley. By choosing the right bowling ball, players can improve their game and ensure lots of high-fives in future frames.