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Bowling Ball Terms For Beginners

If you are relatively new to the game or simply are interested in learning about some of the common terms heard around pro shop circles today related to bowling balls, then there are a few common terms you should familiarize yourself with to better understand your equipment references.

Here are a few terms related to the bowling ball for beginner players:

Span - Distance between thumb and finger holes, usually measured from hole centers to hole centers.

Inserts - Round tubes which are made of urethane materials and are inserted into the gripping holes in a bowling ball. The inserts have a contoured hole inside the tube which is where the bowler fits the gripping fingers on fingertip drilled bowling balls.

Balance Hole - This is an extra hole (balance hole or weight hole) in a ball which is used to get the ball within ABC specifications for imbalance (static balance). The maximum allowable diameter is 1-1/4" for ABC and WIBC sanctioned play and 1-3/8" for the PBA.

Center of Gravity - The position in which the ball is evenly balanced statically from the right side to left side and from the finger quadrant to the thumb quadrant. The perfect balance point where the weight on any straight line drawn through the c.g. is zero on either side of the c.g.. This spot is usually indicated by the position of the label or a punch mark.

Scale - A weight measuring device used to check the total weight, side-to-side weight, and top to bottom weight of bowling balls to ensure that ball meets USBC regulations after drilling.

Durometer - A device used to measure the hardness of a bowling ball. The USBC limits the hardness to be no less than 72D.

Emblem - The logo on a bowling ball, usually signifying the heaviest part of the ball.

Finger Grips - nserts which can be placed into the finger and/or thumb holes to allow the bowler to both hang onto the ball better and impart spin at delivery.

Fingertip - Type of bowling ball grip where the fingers are far enough from the thumb that they can only be inserted into the ball as deep as the first joint. Allows a great amount of spin to be imparted to the ball because of the large span between thumb and fingers, but requires a strong wrist and much practice to master.

House Ball - Bowling ball provided by the center.

Left Side Pitch - Finger or thumb hole drilled and angled away from palm of hand.

Pitch - The angle at which a hole is bored in a bowling ball. When facing the grip with the fingers on top and the thumb below - holes that are drilled away from the center of the grip is referred to as reverse. Holes angled or pitched towards the center of the grip is referred to as forward. Right and left pitch is in relation to the hole. Right pitch on the thumb is also called palm pitch since the angle of the thumb is towards the palm.

Polyester - A specific type of coverstock which is comprised of plastic material with limited durability.

Quality - Bowling balls are rated for quality. Pro Shops and Internet retailers purchase equipment from the same suppliers and manufacturers. Most equipment released by a manufacturer is First Quality. Occasionally some 2nds/Blems get released into the industry. If we know about them, we mark them as such on our product page.


Reactive Resin - A coverstock comprised of similar materials used in urethane formulation, however, blended with different additives. This coverstock provides a "tacky" feeling which translates into additional traction, and usually strong backend reaction.

Revolutions - The number of turns a ball takes when traveling from the release to the pins.

Right Side Pitch - Finger or thumb hole drilled and angled toward palm of hand.

Vent Hole - Drilling a small hole (not a finger hole) to relieve suction on the thumb hole.

Core - The inner portion of the bowling ball which influences ball reaction based on its density and position.

These terms are of the lesser technical nature of bowling ball term references. The terms are commonly used to address matters pertaining to bowling balls, some more commonly than others.

If you are new to the game, it does help to learn some of the lingo associated with bowling balls, an integral part of the game.