Bowling is a competitive and recreational sport in which the players’ goal is to hit as many pins as possible with a solid weighted ball. As an avid bowler myself, I can tell you that having the right bowling ball size can make all the difference.
So, how big are bowling balls exactly? The smallest ones are candlepin bowling balls with a diameter of 4.5 inches and a circumference of 14.14 inches. Next are five-pin bowling balls with a diameter between 4.75 and 5 inches and a circumference ranging from 14.92 to 15.71 inches. Lastly, ten-pin bowling balls are the largest, with a diameter of 8.595 inches and a circumference of 27 inches.
How Big Are Candlepin Bowling Balls?
For a candlepin game, a smaller bowling ball is used. It has the shape of a proper sphere that is generally the smallest of all the conventional bowling balls; there are no finger holes drilled into them.
One advantage when playing candlepin bowling with this ball is that it can be easily gripped, released, and rolled. Moreover, the material used for this type of ball includes wood, plastic, rubber, or a combination of the three. These balls are also available in a variety of colors.
That said, the bowling balls used for candlepins have an overall diameter of 11cm or 4.5 inches, with a circumference of 35.92 cm or 14.14 inches. Thus, in its entirety, it weighs approximately 1 kg. or 2.2-2.4 lbs.
How Big Are Five-Pin Bowling Balls?
A more advanced version of bowling is five-pin bowling, also known as duckpin bowling. However, the balls used in this game can also be used interchangeably in a candlepin game.
With that said, this type of ball is built to fit perfectly in the bowler’s hand but is still without any finger holes drilled into it. In addition, it is relatively more prominent, with a thicker and more durable cover stock and a heavier weight.
The bowling balls used for five-pin or duckpin have an overall diameter of 12.1-12.7 cm or 4.75-5 inches, with a circumference of 37.9-39.9 cm or 14.92-15.71 inches. Thus, it weighs between 1.5-1.7 kg or 3.3-3.75 lbs in its entirety.
How Big Are Ten-Pin Bowling Balls?
The most popular and conventional bowling ball is the ten-pin bowling ball. This ball has three finger holes drilled strategically into them, and this is where the ring finger, the middle finger, and the thumb are customarily placed. This is generally how the ten-pin bowling ball is carried.
This ball has three main divisions: an inner core, which is also considered the weight block, the outer core, and the exterior, also called the cover stock. The usual materials that comprise this bowling ball are plastic, reactive, particle or proactive, and urethane or resin.
The type of material used on both the surface and the core has a significant effect on your performance, so playing ten-pin bowling requires strategy, making it the more professional type of game among the three.
Moreover, ten-pin bowling balls have more options for customization, with their production and game facets duly regulated by the USBC (US Bowling Congress).
That being said, the bowling ball used for ten-pin bowling has an overall diameter of 21.83 cm or 8.595 inches, with a circumference of 68.58 cm or 27 inches. Thus, in its entirety, it weighs between 4.54-7.26, or 10-16 lbs.
How to Choose the Right Bowling Ball Size for You
All ten-pin bowling balls are made with the same 8.5-inch diameter and a minimal degree of diameter clearance. A ball’s size is uniform and standardized, but its weight can range from 6 to 16 pounds. This variation is affected by the composition of the bowling ball at hand.
Most experienced adult bowlers’ preferred a bowling ball weight that ranges from 14 lbs. to 15 lbs., depending on their expertise. Other bowlers who have trouble with heavier weighted bowling balls have the option to use balls weighing between 10 and 12 pounds.
While it is common knowledge that the heavier the ball, the stronger the impact, the most crucial factor to consider is your ease with which you can play the game.
Since all the major brands’ manufacturing consistency is quite impressive these days, the next thing you should consider after the weight of a bowling ball is the surface texture material, which is commonly known as the cover stock.
The materials that comprise the cover stock of a bowling ball are plastic, reactive, particle or proactive, urethane or resin, and each of these generates various levels of friction and surface traction on bowling lanes – whether they are dry or heavily oiled.
When the lanes are highly conditioned with lane oil, a smooth finish and well-polished coverstock will effortlessly slip with a more manageable length.
However, this makes for a straight roll. On the other hand, the textured cover stock allows for the ball to have a grip on the lane, thus enhancing the potential for angled lengths.
How to Choose the Right Bowling Ball Size for Your Child
If you’re buying a candlepin or duckpin bowling ball for a kid, there’s a general rule to follow when choosing the right weight. If they are eight years old, use an eight-pound bowling ball.
When your child grows older, you may want to consider something heavier to increase swing resistance and achieve better pin carry.
A bowling ball that is too light can be easier to carry and throw, but it will cause the bowler to have poor control when they eventually use a heavier and harder ball. The most crucial factor is a proper match, in which the ball suits the bowler’s hand perfectly.
If the child is old enough and can carry a bowling ball with finger holes, ensure that the holes are drilled and contoured to suit their hand comfortably.
Trying Out House Balls
The trick is to choose the appropriate weight that you can conveniently handle and control. If you have the chance to try out new balls at your favorite pro store, bowl a few games with their house balls before investing in your own.
Many beginner players rely on ten-pin bowling balls of a lighter weight, but this choice can only limit your potential for a better swing and release.
Also, you should note that the greater the force applied to the balls, the stronger the bowling ball impact will be, and weight contributes to this.
A smart technique is to choose a ball that is a pound heavier than your bowling ball of choice; just make sure that the finger holes are tailored to your hand to reduce any wrist strains. It may cost you a bit more, but a bowling ball that is custom-drilled can make all the difference.
Furthermore, by trying the available house balls, you can get an overall feel of the bowling ball you are most confident with. It also gives you a muscle memory of how various cover stocks affect your performance. Besides, these house balls are free to use and don’t cost extra, so you might as well give them a try.