Are Bowling Balls Hollow?

Bowling is a popular sport played both professionally and for entertainment. Most people go play bowling with friends and family during hangouts as it is a sport that does not require much physical effort. 

But have you ever wondered what bowling balls are made of? Or what is inside a bowling ball? Are bowling balls hollow? Most people think that for bowling balls to be lighter, they are hollow inside. But, bowling balls are not hollow. This much is true even for those very light bowling balls for kids that weigh about 6 pounds. Although all bowling balls have the same size, they may vary in the densities of filler material and this gives them different weights.

What are The Different Types of Bowling Balls?

There are different types of bowling balls. The earliest and most primitive type is the wooden ball, followed by the rubber ball, which is no longer used today. Then came the plastic balls which can be seen in most bowling racks as it is cheap to produce.

Urethane balls came after plastic balls, and they dominated the sport for about a decade until reactive resin came into the sport. Reactive resin is the most high-end and provides greater hook potential and thus increases the chances of bowlers to score a strike.

Generally, bowling balls are about the same size. Since there are different weights to bowling balls, people have the common misconception that for some bowling balls to be lighter, they have to be hollow. Likewise, people believe that heavier bowling balls are not hollow.

The truth is all bowling balls are not hollow. Bowling balls differ in weight because of the way they are manufactured. Bowling bowl manufacturers can vary the weight of the bowling bowls by changing the densities of the filler material.

This means that lighter bowling balls use a filler material of low density. On the other hand, heavier bowling balls have high-density filler material. Regardless of whether the bowling ball is light or heavy, all bowling balls are not hollow.

What Are Bowling Balls Made Of?

Bowling balls have outside shells that are generally made of plastic, reactive resin, or urethane. In the history of bowling, bowling balls were once made of rubber. In the center of the bowling ball are a combination of the filler material, glass microbubbles, and a core which is usually made of metal. There are different pros and cons for each of these materials. Let’s go more in-depth about this below.

  • Rubber or Hardwood

In the past, bowling balls were made of lignum vitae- a hardwood material. Wooden balls were the standard until the first-ever rubber ball was invented. Evertrue was the name of the first rubber ball that was released. After the release of Evertrue, a man named Brunswick produced a type of rubber called Mineralite.

Rubber balls dominated the sport of bowling in both recreational playing and competitive playing. However, in this day and age, rubber balls are considered outdated.

  • Polyester

As technology progressed over the years, manufacturers discovered a way to produce a much better bowling ball than a rubber bowling ball. The use of polyester or plastic bowling balls became the next big hit the bowling market.

Even today, you can still see plastic bowling balls on the racks and are used by many recreational bowlers and even by some competitive bowlers. These days, most of the bowling balls that you see on the racks are most likely plastic bowling balls because they are generally cheaper to produce and very durable.

The bowling balls are great for most recreational bowlers who are not bothered much by the ball’s performance. Plastic bowling balls have a very minimal amount of reaction on the lanes.

Professional bowlers, however, and other skilled, competitive bowlers are much more sensitive to the bowling ball’s performance. They just use them for taking spare shots because plastic bowling balls allow you to remove the oil pattern of the throw, and you just throw straight at your spares. 

  • Urethane

After plastic balls, the next advancement in the manufacturing of bowling balls was polyurethane, or otherwise known as urethane. Urethane bowling balls outperformed the previous bowling balls because they allow the player to generate more friction on the bowling lane than with rubber balls or polyester.

The bowler can hit the pocket with the ball with much more angle on the entry, and this significantly increases the chances of hitting a strike. To this day, many professional bowlers still use urethane bowling balls for strike shots and spare shots. Urethane balls are extremely effective in broken down or dry oil conditions. 

  • Reactive Resin

This is the best and most high-end type of bowling ball available today. These balls revolutionized the sport far beyond urethane balls and the other types of bowling balls.

When reactive resins bowling balls came into the sport, they gave players an enormous amount of hook potential and greatly increased the chances of a strike. However, most people have misconceptions about reactive resin, and this is pretty understandable.

What Is Inside a Bowling Ball?

Now that you know what a bowling ball is made of and that it is not hollow at all, the next big question is what is inside a bowling ball? Well, bowling bowls have another component to them. The mid-section of every bowling bowl contains filler material and the weight block. 

This is where the weight of the ball is mostly adjusted. The filler material that is found in the middle of the bowling ball is a mixture of glass microbubbles and a filler material that is heavy and dense. The weight of the ball can be adjusted by the density of the filler material.

This allows manufacturers to vary the weights of different bowling balls without changing the size of the ball itself. The other component found inside the bowling bowl is the weight block. This can be understood as the engine of the bowling ball that drives it into the pocket.

The core of every bowling bowl has a point of equilibrium of how it will naturally roll. If you roll the ball out of its axis with its core, it will change the direction of the roll in an attempt to reach equilibrium. 

Manufacturers of bowling balls have added scientific research in the manufacturing of different bowling balls. This has allowed them to manufacture a plethora of cores available for different bowling ball reactions. Some cores allow the bowler to have that violent, snappy hook, while other cores allow the bowler to have a less aggressive and smoother hook. 

What are the Different Types of Bowling Ball Cores?

Bowling balls have inner cores that affect how the ball spins and hooks when rolling down the lane. The bowling ball cores are available in different shapes and sizes. Here are the three types of bowling cores:

  1. Pancake Bowling Ball Core

As the name suggests, these cores lay on top of each other in small blocks to give the shape of pancakes. They are usually found in plastic, resin, and urethane body covers. They are distinguished by their high RG and very low differential that makes them user-friendly and easy to predict.

  • Symmetrical Bowling Ball Core

These cores are common in tow-piece bowling balls and come with a small intermediate differential. The RG and differential are both low and this allows the ball to roll smoothly down the lane.

It offers additional control while hooking to give better precision and accuracy with every shot. Besides, a bowling ball that has a symmetrical core is great for intermediate users that have mastered the basics of bowling. It also offers a user-friendly experience because of its high predictability and because it strikes the pin in a straight line.

  • Asymmetrical Bowling Ball

Unlike the symmetrical ball, an asymmetrical bowling ball has a high RG and a high differential. It is also very aggressive and highly advanced. It is also consistent and has a low predictability trajectory, making it a great option for professional and advanced players.

Although it is a difficult to master, users that know how to use this bowling ball can make powerful shots and enjoy high performance. Since it doesn’t follow a straight path, this bowling ball may not be ideal for spare pins.

Nonetheless, it offers angularity with each shot and can conserve a lot of energy. Plus, it does well on heavy oil bowling lanes.

Final Thoughts

Bowling balls are not hollow despite the varying weights of different bowling balls. The middle section of a bowling bowl is a combination of filler material and weight block. The filler material of the ball is what determines the weight of the ball.

A less dense filler material means that the ball will be lighter while a much denser filler material makes the bowling ball heavier. The last component of the middle section is the weight block that controls the equilibrium of the bowling ball.

Essentially speaking, the weight block is the engine of the bowling ball. The direction a bowling ball rolls changes if it is rolled in a way that is out of its axis concerning its core. This allows players to have more options on rolling a bowling bowl depending on the bowls weight block.