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Recycle Your Old Bowling Balls

If you are looking for an edge in your game and want to get a consistent ball reaction, particularly when you see teammates or other bowlers in your league pounding the pocket and you are not, then recycle your bowling balls. By this we mean to break out your old urethane coverstocks or tame, mild reactive equipment manufactured years ago.

Using tame ball coverstocks can help you aggressively attack the pocket from a more direct target path than will highly aggressive coverstocks and drilling layout combinations.

The trick is to select one or two of you older pieces of equipment you have stopped using and may have stored in a closet at home or in your garage. Practice a few games with them to refamiliarize yourself with the ball reaction you will get from these older bowling balls.

You have a couple of techniques you can use to take more advantage of these older balls.

You can drill a balance hole asking your pro shop professional to either add a bit of skid length or reduce skid distance with the placement and size of the balance hole so long as you stay within USBC regulations for sanctioned equipment.

Normally balance holes tame the reaction to provide a consistent motion down the lane and reduce the threat of severe over-reaction on wet/dry house oil patterns. High scoring conditions can cause reaction problems for some players if their delivery technique, alignment, or equipment is not matched best to the lane conditions.

If you add a balance hole or not, you can also tweak the skid distance by adding more surface texture using low grit pads such as perhaps 1000 grit as opposed to 1500 or 200 grit pads.

To extend skid distance on these older coverstocks, use a high grit pad such as 2500 or 4000 grit pads to smooth the surface texture and provide a longer skid pattern than low grit pads provide.

You can also use a directional screening technique to prepare the texture with the ball track or cross screen across the track area of your coverstock as a tool to extend or reduce skid distance as you deem most appropriate.

One thing you can do when using less aggressive bowling balls is play an attack game. You use your full operating ball speed and use your most reliable release technique, line up to the pocket and fire away. If you play safe, your competition can gain an edge if they can fire away using their best equipment matching the lane conditions.

By using low friction ball surfaces, you can play in the dry area of the lane and know for certain your ball will react and hook to the pocket as opposed to playing in the heavy oil area of the lane and hoping your ball will hook back strongly enough and not miss the pocket high or light.


Gaining a reliable and consistent ball reaction is the biggest step to posting high scores and becoming competitive in leagues and tournaments.

Before investing in new equipment, drag out some older bowling balls which are less aggressive than your present front line equipment and determine if a balance hole or tweaking the ball surface or both will help you play the lanes in such a way to hit the pocket easily and often.

Keep an open mind and keep you eyes open when thinking about playing the lanes. Match your bowling balls to the lane conditions and don’t be stubborn if the new ball you just bought does not work as well as you hoped.

No bowling ball works everywhere and on every lane condition. Avoid discounting the older equipment as lost items when you can merely use them to expand your working arsenal.