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Choosing Your First New Bowling Ball

If you are a new bowler or someone planning on purchasing your first bowling ball and want to learn about bowling balls, it is important to know that the coverstock selection is your most crucial decision to make in choosing a new ball.

How important is the bowling ball coverstock? The answer is a simple one, very important.

The coverstock, the outer layer of poly-urethane material wrapped around an inner core, influences the length potential rating of any new bowling ball. It is perhaps two-thirds importance in the entire decision making process when selecting a new bowling ball.

When your ball rolls down the lane, it is in contact with the surface of the lane where lane conditioner is applied. Your ball will also pass through the oil conditioned area of the lane where the ball slides (the front end of the lane) and then pass through the hooking area of the lane (the mid-lane). It will then roll toward the pins on the back end of the lane.

Once your ball leaves the oil dressed portion of the lane, about two-thirds of the entire distance of the lane from the foul line to the pins on the pin deck, your ball will travel on dry back ends of the lane surface.

Coverstocks are designed to combat the given volume of oil used on the front ends of the lanes. You can select a coverstock for a heavily oil, on freshly conditioned lanes, for medium oil, or for very light oil conditions.

Solid reactive coverstocks are manufactured to react in heavy to medium heavy oil. Solid coverstocks typically will not skid too far past the desired break-point down the lane. This type of aggressive coverstock matches well with the low friction factor on the lane surface due to the application of the a heavy volume of oil on the front end of the lane surface.

Pearl reactive coverstocks will not grip the lane surface nearly as quickly as will the solid coverstocks. For lane conditions which are dry or medium dry, a pearl coverstock matches well due to the increased length or skid potential the smooth surface of the ball provides.

Of course, there are various degrees of aggressive or less aggressive coverstocks available in the market. Some solid coverstocks are factory finished to a high gloss surface while others are dull and highly textured for increased traction.

Pearl reactive coverstocks will slide more easily on the front end of the lane compared to solid reactive coverstocks, but will gain traction on the dry back end portions of the lane and promote a decisive hook motion, provided you have a delivery style which hooks the bowling ball.

Non-reactive bowling balls, such as plastic or regular urethane coverstock equipment, will not create the degree of traction in oily conditions as will the reactive coverstocks. It is easy to control the ball motion of non-reactive bowling balls because of the reduced amount of surface friction created when plastic or regular urethane bowling balls travel on the lane surface.


If you are looking to develop control and do not wish to create a strong hooking motion, non-reactive coverstock equipment will work very well and will typically save you money. In fact, many top amateur and professional players will use non-reactive equipment to reduce their hook when they bowl on very dry lanes or when they shoot spares.

When you face the point in time when you need to make a decision on what type of bowling ball you should choose, remember that the coverstock selection is the number one item to consider.

You can liken the coverstock of a bowling ball to the gripping power of new automobile tires on the highways. The coverstock portion of the bowling ball is what comes into direct contact with the lane surface when you bowl.

Make your choice based on coverstock considerations before anything else. Your area pro shop professional can guide you in making a good decision as to which bowling ball type of coverstock will best serve your needs.