The 10 Best Bowling Balls In 2020

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If you are a new bowler looking to improve your game, the most important thing you can do is make sure you are using a quality bowling ball that suits your style. While most bowling alleys provide “house balls” that bowlers can use for free, it is impossible to be very consistent using these balls. In addition to not being fitted correctly to your hand, house balls lack the core and coverstock for that perfect curve and explosive pin action when your ball hits the pocket.

Features to consider in Good Bowling Ball

In order to bowl to your potential, it is critical that you are using a ball that has been chosen with you and your bowling style in mind. Advanced bowlers should also consider the conditions of the lanes they will be bowling on. Professionals generally have an arsenal of 5-10 high-performance balls they use, switching depending on the oil patterns and conditions of the lanes they are competing on.

If you’re buying your first bowling ball, you do not need to get too technical about things like lane conditions and should instead focus on finding one beginner-friendly ball that you will be comfortable using on any lane. Depending on your delivery and how much your ball hooks when you throw it, you may also want to consider adding a second ball with little or no curve for picking up spares.

The most important decision you will need to make is how heavy your new bowling ball should be. According to the USBC rules of bowling, the maximum legal weight of a bowling ball is 16 pounds, but most bowlers will want to pick something a little lighter for more speed and control. A ball that is too light, however, will lack the necessary force on impact and will leave spares at times when a heavier ball would have cleared the rack.

Before making the final decision on the weight of your new ball, you should bowl a few games using house balls in order to find the heaviest weight you would feel comfortable using for several games. Remember, bowling is a game of consistency, so tiring your arm out in the first game can have disastrous results on your score.

The Best Bowling Balls for Beginners 2020

1. Best Overall Pick: Brunswick Rhino

Why we like it: The Brunswick Rhino is our top choice for any casual bowler who wants to start taking the game more seriously. Solid performance at a great price, this ball is a smart choice for everything from Friday-night glow bowling to competitive league night.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

For over 100 years, Brunswick has been one of the most trusted names in bowling equipment. After just a few games with the Rhino, you will see why. This ball is often overlooked because Brunswick has labeled it as an “entry-level” ball, but you shouldn’t underestimate the Rhino. It’s a powerful, consistent ball that could have you putting up impressive scores very quickly.

Performance

The Brunswick Rhino does not hook as much as some of the other balls we looked at. While that may disappoint some new bowlers who want to begin throwing a big sweeping hook right away, it has very little effect on this ball’s ability to find the pocket and knock down all the pins. In fact, the consistent hook of the Rhino is what makes it a viable ball on all lane conditions.

The Rhino outperforms other entry-level balls in two key areas, the core and the coverstock. The lightbulb-shaped core is responsible for the gradual hook and allows the ball to transfer the maximum amount of force to the pins. This makes for some impressive, rack-shredding strikes.

The cover of the ball is made from Brunswick’s proprietary R-16 Reactive Resin. While this formula is not quite as explosive as those found in the coverstock of most high-performance balls, R-16 more than makes up for it with added control and an uncanny ability to soak up lane oil. This is a great trade-off for beginner bowlers because extra pin action is useless if you keep missing the pocket.

Style

Because the Brunswick Rhino is one of the most popular bowling balls available today, it is easy to find in a wide variety of styles and colors.

Available Weights

The Brunswick Rhino is available in all weights between 10-16lbs

Pros
  • Ideal for beginners, great value
  • Great on a variety of lane conditions
  • Solid core creates big pin-action on impact
Cons
  • Not as much hook as other options

2. Pyramid Path Rising

Why we like it: A great choice for bowlers of all skill levels, the Path Rising is ideal for bowlers who are looking for a good value on features normally found only in higher-end balls. The wide range of available weights also makes it an ideal first ball for youth bowlers.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

Pyramid is a newcomer to the bowling industry, having only been in operation since 2011. A company founded by dedicated bowlers and pro-shop owners, they have quickly made a name for themselves by producing high-quality bowling balls at affordable prices. That philosophy is what has landed their best-selling entry-level ball, the Path Rising, on our list of best bowling balls for beginners.

Performance

The first thing that we noticed was the impressive back-end hook generated by the Pyramid Path Rising. More importantly, unlike with many balls, this big finish does not come at the expense of control. Several bowlers who have used the Path Rising report that the ball breaks at just the right time and place on lots of different lane conditions.

At the center of the ball is Pyramid’s “New Era 139” core. One major benefit of this core is the sheer amount of drilling options. This allows bowlers who want more control to customize the Path Rising to their exact style, a feature not often found in entry-level bowling balls.

The coverstock of the Path Rising is made from a reactive pearl resin, another feature normally reserved for higher-end bowling balls. This cover is responsible for a great reaction when the ball hits the pocket. One downside to the higher-end coverstock, however, is that the ball will require more regular cleaning than most other beginner balls.

Style

The Pyramid Path Rising ball comes in 8 color combinations, so every bowler will be able to find a look that matches their style. The Aqua/Silver combination, in particular, looks awesome underneath a blacklight.

Available Weights

The Pyramid Path Rising is available in sizes between 8 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Best youth bowling ball
  • Huge selection of colors and sizes
  • High-end coverstock
Cons
  • Big hooking action can make it hard to use on very dry lanes
  • Reactive pearl cover requires more cleaning than most balls

3. Motiv Venom Shock

Why we like it: While it’s a little more expensive than some of the other beginner bowling balls we reviewed, it’s clear that Motiv has added enough value to make it worth it for the right bowler.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

When Motiv Bowling Balls first came on the market in the late 2000s, they quickly gained attention because of the way they looked. With their patented NeoMark graphics technology, they were able to create great-looking ball designs and logos integrated into the coverstock of their balls without the need for engraving. What’s more, the technological advances in this ball don’t end with aesthetics.

Performance

The Venom Shock is an incredibly fun ball to bowl with. The gear-shaped core creates a very satisfying backend-action that just shreds through the pins when it hits the pocket. We’ve seen a recent trend of manufacturers taking features from their high-performance balls and making them more accessible to beginner bowlers. No ball we looked at exemplifies this trend better than the Venom Shock.

One thing that immediately stood out to us was how well thought out this ball seemed to be. Motiv has taken the cover from one of their more aggressive balls and modified it to be more beginner-friendly. The end result is the patented Turmoil MFS coverstock. This combination makes throwing the Venom Shock feels a lot like riding a high-end motorcycle with training wheels.

The Motiv was a little harder to throw than some of the beginner-friendly balls we tested, requiring a little extra arm strength to create the speed and revolutions required to make this ball work to its potential.

Style

If you want to turn heads at the bowling alley, this ball will get the job done for sure. The NeoMark graphics technology lets Motiv print graphics in the coverstock of a ball and it’s like nothing we have ever seen before. Take the Venom Shock glow bowling and Motiv’s attention to detail becomes very apparent. This ball was clearly designed to look spectacular under a black light.

Available Weights

The Motiv Venom Shock is available in sizes between 12 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Biggest hook in a beginner-friendly ball
  • Best looking ball we reviewed
  • High-Performance core with a beginner-friendly coverstock is a great combination
Cons
  • Harder to control than other beginner balls
  • Requires more arm strength to take full advantage of this ball

The Best High-Performance Bowling Balls 2020

It’s important to understand that when it comes to bowling balls, “High-Performance” does not always mean better. Balls that fit into this category are generally made for specific lane conditions. If you’re buying your first bowling ball, we highly recommend you look in the beginner category first. You will save money and bowl better scores!

4. Best Premium Pick: Motiv Forge Fire

Why we like it: The Forge Fire offers unmatched control and power for the most difficult lane conditions. Any competitive bowler should seriously consider adding it to their bag.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

If you’re bowling on a lane with heavy oil, sometimes it can feel impossible to make the ball hook correctly. The Forge Fire by Motiv has been designed to grip the lane and create lots of angle into the pocket, even on very slick lanes.

Performance

The Forge Fire is simply the most violent of all the balls we reviewed. Its ability to generate friction on the lane and hit the pocket with maximum force is unrivaled. A follow-up to Motiv’s popular Ripcord ball, some key improvements make the Forge Fire one of the best high-performance bowling balls ever made.

Over the past decade, Motiv has earned a reputation for being at the forefront of bowling technology. So it should come as no surprise that the Forge Fire includes patented components you won’t find in any other companies catalogs. At the center of the Forge Fire is Motiv’s large “Detonator” core surrounded by the patented Infusion coverstock.

Everything about the look and feel of the Forge Fire seems carefully crafted. This is exactly why it’s taken so little time for Motiv Bowling Balls to show up in big numbers on the professional tour. The Forge Fire is regularly used by bowling superstar E.J. Tackett.

Style

Thanks to Motiv’s patented NeoMark graphics technology, the Forge Fire has a distinctive look and looks great rolling down the lane.

Available Weights

The Motiv Forge Fire is available in sizes between 12 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Great control for oil heavy lanes
  • Explosive pin action
  • Our Favorite High-Performance Ball
Cons
  • Most expensive bowling ball we reviewed
  • Impossible to use on dry lanes

5. Hammer Black Widow

Why we like it: It looks great and it crushes the pins. This ball is a great go-to ball for any league bowler who wants to put up big scores with some style.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

There is no technical difference between a men’s and women’s bowling ball, but it’s easy to see what target audience Hammer had in mind when it released the all-pink Black Widow ball. Hammer has been one of the top bowling ball brands since 1981 and the Black Widow is one of the most iconic models. This ball is a common sight at men’s and women’s tournaments across the country and it’s easy to see why.

Performance

Recommended for medium to heavy oil, The Hammer Black Widow bowling balls are known for their versatility. The powerful “gas mask” core at the center of the ball generates power down the lane in a very smooth fashion. Because this ball travels down the lane with minimum skid, you do not have to throw it very hard to get some serious revolutions and crush through the pins.

Style

There’s not much to say here, chances are you either love the idea of a bright pink bowling ball or you hate it. If you love it, this is the best pink bowling ball you will find.

While the pink version of the Hammer Black Widow has gotten the most attention, it’s also available in a black/gold color scheme.

Available Weights

The Hammer Black Widow is available in sizes between 12 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Iconic Gas-Mask core provides remarkable consistency
  • Effective thrown at lower speeds
  • A style like no other high-performance ball
Cons
  • Pink color can get dirty after use
  • Hard to control on dry alleys

6. Roto Grip Halo

Why we like it: If you’re bowling in a tournament and the oil conditions are extreme, you’ll be very glad to have this ball in your collection. If the lane is dry, however, it’s probably best to keep it in your bag.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

Roto Grip doesn’t mince words in the description of their Halo Bowling Ball. They claim that “This ball was created to destroy and conquer the heaviest of conditions.” Our review found that this ball largely makes good on those claims.

Performance

The Roto Grip Halo is the hardest hooking ball we looked at. The Halo uses a very strong, asymmetric core they call the Centrum and this is paired with the proven MicroTrax-S18 coverstock found on previous Roto Grip models. This produces a devastating hook with hardly any skidding, ensuring that the maximum amount of force is transferred to the pins when you hit the pocket.

Style

The Roto Grip Halo only comes in one style, a mix of blue and pink with yellow engraving. We think that this ball looks great and that the loud style matches the outrageous performance of this ball.

Available Weights

The Roto Grip Halo is available in sizes between 12 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Huge hook, even on oily lane conditions
  • No skidding
  • Best ball for extreme oil patterns
Cons
  • Useless on dry lanes
  • Big hook can result in less control

7. Hammer RIP’D

Why we like it: The Hammer RIP’D is a great entry point into high-performance bowling balls. It’s less expensive than most alternatives and delivers high-end performance while still staying versatile.

Editor’s Rating:

Overview

This is the second entry from Hammer in our list of top high-performance bowling balls. Hammer has been making high-end bowling balls for close to 40 years now. The Hammer RIP’D keeps the tradition alive, and it may be the perfect ball to take your bowling game to the next level.

Performance

The Hammer RIP’d was the most versatile of the high-performance bowling balls we reviewed, performing well in a variety of conditions – including dryer lanes. In fact, we would perhaps be tempted to call this a beginner-friendly ball because of how many lane conditions it is suitable for.

The most noticeable benefit of the RIP’D is how powerfully it sends pins flying when you hit them. This big pin action is generated because the coverstock on this ball is absolutely explosive. The Hammer RIP’D uses a new hybrid coverstock called Aggression CFI. Based on what we’ve seen, it’s a safe bet we’ll see more balls using it soon.

Style

Despite its funky name, the RIP’D is a pretty nondescript looking bowling ball and it only comes in one color combination.

Available Weights

The Hammer RIP’D is available in sizes between 12 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Most versatile high-performance ball we reviewed
  • Best coverstock we reviewed
Cons
  • Only one style option
  • Less backend hook compared to most high-performance balls

The Best Spare Bowling Balls 2020

The fastest way to improve your bowling scores is to pick up your spares more often. That’s why a spare ball is an important piece of equipment for most bowlers. Because certain pin arrangements are difficult to knock down with a ball that curves, having a ball that rolls straight can be useful for picking up tricky spares like the 10-pin. (7 pin for lefties). Some bowlers use house balls for this purpose, but we recommend against that because having a ball properly fit your hand gives you so much additional control.

8. Best Budget Pick: Brunswick TZone

Why we like it: If you’re looking for a spare ball, you can’t go wrong with the Brunswick TZone. The huge selection of weights and colors also makes this the best ball for bowlers under eight years old.

Editor’s Rating:

Performance

The TZone by Brunswick can be found in just about any bowling alley. While it shouldn’t be the only ball in your bag, this is about as dependable as it gets for picking up spares. The small bullet point core ensures the ball tracks as straight as possible while the polyester coverstock makes pins bounce off the ball, giving you a fair shot to pick up any split. In addition to great performance, the TZone comes with the lowest price tag of any bowling ball on the market, making it a no-brainer for the top spot on our list of the best spare balls.

Style

The TZone comes in a huge variety of patterns and colors, so every bowler will be able to find the perfect one for themselves.

Available Weights

The Brunswick TZone is available in sizes between 6 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Bullet point core makes this ball very forgiving
  • Best bowling ball for young children
  • Large selection of colors and styles
  • Low price
Cons
  • Balls under 8lbs are prone to cracking in the ball return.

9. Brunswick Viz-a-Ball

Why we like it: For a few extra dollars, the Brunswick Viz-a-Ball is guaranteed to put a smile on even the grumpiest bowler. The best part is there’s no sacrifice in the performance of the ball.

Editor’s Rating:

Because spare balls do not need the same advanced coverstocks as a strike ball, the folks over at Brunswick decided to have fun when creating their Viz-a-Ball series of bowling balls. These balls feature the same great performance as the Brunswick TZone but include vivid, photorealistic graphics.

Style

Let’s face it, the Brunswick Viz-A-Ball is all about style. Ranging from everything from a globe to a smiley face emoji, the designs are fun and they make a huge impression.

Available Weights

The Brunswick Viz-A-Ball is available in sizes between 6 and 16 pounds.

Pros
  • Most vivid images ever printed on a bowling ball.
  • Great performance and durability
Cons
  • More expensive than a standard spare ball

10. KR Strikeforce Clear Red Rose

Why we like it: We love this ball because it is unique and performs solidly. It is difficult, however, to justify the steep price increase when compared to a standard spare ball.

Editor’s Rating:

When we first saw the Clear Red Rose spare ball by KR Strikeforce, the only thing we could think of was Bill Murray’s legendary performance as bowler Ernie McCracken in the movie Kingpin. In the pivotal scene of that movie, McCracken uses a ball just like this to win the championship. If you’re willing to overlook a few flaws and a hefty price tag, maybe you can use this ball to win over the crowd like Big Ern.

Performance

The Clear Red Rose spare ball performs solidly, though it’s not as thoroughly tested as the other balls we reviewed. Even though the ball is approved for play by the USBC, we found that many people buy this ball to display it rather than using it.

Style

Nobody had more style than Big Ernie McCracken.

Available Weights

The KR Strikeforce Clear Red Rose is available only in a 14lb size.

Pros
  • Makes a great first impression
  • Performs well
Cons
  • The most expensive spare ball we reviewed
  • Only comes in 14-pound size
  • Some reports of durability issues

Guide to Buying the Best Bowling Ball

What is the proper ball weight for men, women and youth bowlers?

The short answer is that everyone is different, but the general rule is you should use the heaviest ball that you can throw for several games in a row without exhausting your arm. The average bowler in a Men’s league will throw a ball between 14 and 16 pounds and Women’s league bowlers will range between 10-14 pounds. Bowling balls come in sizes as low as 6 pounds for youth bowlers.

What are the parts of a bowling ball?

There are two main parts to a bowling ball: the coverstock and the core.

The coverstock is the part you see and is the part shaped like a ball. The materials used in the coverstock are of particular importance because this is the part of the ball that is actually making contact with the lane. Today’s bowling ball companies put a lot of effort into researching materials for coverstocks that allow bowling balls to grip the lane and create a greater impact on the pins. A wide variety of coverstock options is available for bowlers with different techniques and skill levels.

Inside the ball, you will find the core. Also called the “weight block” of the ball, this is an oddly shaped weight placed inside the coverstock, normally near the center of the ball. This asymmetric weight inside the ball creates the momentum needed for the ball to hook and push through the pins without losing too much force. The size and shape of these vary wildly.

If I buy a ball online, will It come with the finger holes?

If you order a brand new ball, it will come without any holes drilled in it whatsoever. This is because each ball should be custom drilled based on the hands of the person who is going to be using it. Thankfully, it is easy and inexpensive to have this done at most bowling alleys or stores where bowling balls are sold and you will usually save a good deal of money by buying online compared to buying the same ball and having it drilled in your local pro shop.

Can I drill my own bowling ball?

No! You should not attempt to drill your own holes in a new bowling ball. There is much more to drilling a bowling ball than simply drilling holes in the ball. You should find a professional certified by the International Bowling Pro Shop & Instructors Association (IBPSIA) who can take the proper measurements and do it for you.

When a new bowling ball is drilled, in addition to the size of the bowler’s hand and their style of bowling, the person drilling the ball must consider the position of the holes in relation to the pin inside the ball, as that will have a big effect on how the ball hooks. Finally, an improperly drilled ball can lead to injury.

Choosing a grip for your bowling ball.

A question that a lot of new bowlers are not anticipating when buying their first ball is grip type. There are two ways to have a new bowling ball drilled, standard grip and fingertip grip. Neither one is inherently better, but most bowlers do have a strong preference.

In a conventional grip, the thumb is fully inserted in the ball’s thumb hole and the middle and ring fingers are pushed into the ball up to the second joint on each finger. By contrast, with a fingertip grip, the holes are further apart and while the thumb is still fully inserted, the holes are located further apart and the two fingers only go in as far as the first knuckle. Bowlers who bowl two-handed usually use a fingertip grip with no thumb hole.

In general, a conventional grip provides more stability while a fingertip grip allows you to put more revolution on the ball upon release. This is mostly a matter of personal preference. Before having your new ball drilled, ask to try a ball with both grip types. One of the two grip styles will just feel “right.”

Should I bowl one-handed or two-handed?

When most people picture bowling, what they see is the traditional one-handed bowling style. But did you know that the best bowler in the world today uses a revolutionary style using both hands to throw the ball? World #1 Jason Belmonte has taken this style, formerly regarded as a joke, and revolutionized the game. His dominance created a conversation as to whether or not this new style was fair and even sparked debate about banning it. Don’t worry though, it’s here to stay.

Most of us feel like we’re too set in our ways to learn this new style of bowling, but parents teaching their kids to bowl or anyone feeling adventurous may want to look into it as there are a lot of advantages. Thanks to Belmonte’s success, there’s a lot of great instructional content on two-handed bowling available.

I hear lots of talk about “oil” on the lane, what’s that about?

Oil on a bowling lane serves two purposes. The first, and most pragmatic is that coating the lane with a lubricant prevents scratches, dents, and gouges that may otherwise be caused by bowling balls rolling down the hardwood. Mineral oil is what is used for this purpose.

Once lane operators started using the oil to protect the lanes, it didn’t take long for bowlers chasing high scores to begin figuring out how this oil affected the path of the bowling balls rolling down the lane. With today’s equipment, even smaller bowling alleys can be very precise about the amount of oil and pattern on the lane, allowing for a wide variety of lane conditions for their bowlers. The Professional Bowlers Association has created several standardized oil patterns for use in competition.

How do I know what the lane conditions at my local bowling alley are like?

If you don’t know what the conditions at a nearby alley will be like, don’t worry! First, you should make sure to have a ball in your collection that can be used in any conditions, like the Brunswick Rhino. Second, if you’re not an experienced bowler you should not even think about lane conditions until you are regularly picking up your single pin spares and averaging 150+ pins per game.

How can I Improve my bowling game?

Most new bowlers miss the importance of picking up spares. Sure, it’s more fun to knock all the pins on the first ball, but a strike scores only a little more than a spare unless you get multiple strikes in a row. This means it’s important to concentrate and follow through on every spare attempt.

If you really want to get good at bowling, you need to learn how to think about the game and make adjustments and in order to do that, you’re going to need to practice. If you want to improve quickly, our best advice is to join a bowling league at a center near you. Most bowling alleys have a wide selection of leagues for all skill levels. In addition, bowlers who are members of a league usually get a large discount when playing practice games at the same location.

What other bowling equipment do I need?

Aside from a bowling ball, the most important piece of equipment a bowler needs is a good pair of bowling shoes. Like alley balls, most houses will have shoes available for rent. While this is fine for a casual outing or a date night, any bowler beginning to take the game seriously will want to find a pair of their own bowling shoes pretty quickly. Not only have technical advances led to bowling shoes that are more comfortable and better performing than ever, but the rental fees also add up quickly and the thought of rental footwear is just generally unappealing.

As far as carrying your equipment to and from the lane, you have a few options. Many league bowlers will rent lockers in the alleys they play in so that they do not have to transport their heavy bowling balls from home every time they go to play. Others will carry their balls in a carrying case. Many bowling bags with room for two or more balls will also have wheels that allow you to roll them instead of having to carry them.

Finally, we suggest you buy a rosin bag to use on your hands while bowling. The main use of this powder-filled bag is to absorb the moisture on your hand and to assist with grip. Not only will a little rosin on your fingers while bowling give you better control, but it will also allow for a smoother release and reduce the risk of injuring the skin on your hand.

Final Thoughts

Bowling is an excellent hobby and a great way to have fun, release stress, and compete. There is no feeling quite like watching a perfectly placed ball slide into the pocket and making the pins explode. If you’ve never experienced what it’s like to bowl with your own ball, we highly encourage you to try it. The game becomes much more fun when you have a ball that fits both your hands and your style.