How Many Bowling Balls Should You Have?

For recreational purposes, people don’t pay too much attention to the types of bowling balls and the number of bowls in the rack. On the competitive side of the sport, however, things are much more serious, and professional players are pickier when it comes to bowling balls. 

So with that in mind, how many bowling balls should you have? Technically speaking, you only need one bowling ball to play. There is no rule in the gamebook that requires you to bring more than one ball. However, playing a game competitively or professionally with only one bowling ball may not be good for your odds of winning. 

How Many Bowling Balls Do You Really Need?

If you have seen professional bowlers play or perhaps people who are more serious with bowling, you may notice them bringing many bags of bowling balls. You may also notice that in different situations, they use different bowling balls. Due to this, people tend to wonder how many bowling balls one should have. 

If you are not required to have more than one ball, yet playing with one ball is not good for your odds of winning, then how many bowling balls do you need?

Technically, you can play the whole game with only one ball, but this doesn’t mean that it is the optimal choice. 

Despite being no rules to playing with only one ball, doing so will not make you very efficient. Due to this, most players who are at least a little bit serious about bowling opt to have at least two bowling balls. One of the balls is for hitting strikes while the other ball is intended to hit spare shots. 

Keep in mind that there are no rules as to how many balls you bring to a game. As long as the ball that you bring to a game conforms to the ball specifications required by the rules, it’s okay to bring as many as you can. In fact, you can even use a different ball for every shot. The ball specifications include ball weight, balance holes, and hole location, to name a few.

On the flip side, using too many balls in a single game is not ideal as well. This is because every ball is different, and you would have to adjust every time you use a different ball. 

Based on my personal experience, the safe answer to the question is two bowling balls: one for strike shots and another for spare shots. Let us go more in-depth about this below.

What are Strike Balls?

Strike balls are the most important balls in your arsenal. If you plan on purchasing a ball, you should opt for a strike ball first. This is the most important because it is the ball you are going to be using the most. As the name implies, strike balls are the balls that you use when you attempt to score a strike. 

When purchasing or choosing a strike ball, it is generally a good idea to choose one that has at least a slight hook to it when you throw. This means that when you throw your shot, it will curve ever so slightly as it rolls down the lane. This is crucial because bowling lanes are waxed. 

In more competitive bowling games, such as in a league, the bowling lanes are waxed in such a way that you will not be able to get a strike by just merely throwing the ball straight to the pins. To increase your chances of getting a strike, you must throw it slightly either to the left or to the right of the bowling lane, and then throw it in such a way that it curves inward ever so slightly. 

Professional and experienced players often prefer strike balls with a good amount of hook potential. There are many types of strike balls, but in professional games and highly competitive games, reactive resin bowling balls are the standard.

Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an expert, you should opt for a reactive resin bowling ball if you ever plan on being at least a little bit serious in bowling. Just as with spare balls, gaining more experience and having more skill in bowling may require you to have more than just one strike ball that you use for different occasions on the game.

However, starting with just one decent, reactive resin bowling ball should be enough to cover almost every situation on the bowling lane. Master one bowling ball first before purchasing another one. 

What are Spare Balls?

After choosing and mastering your strike ball, you should now switch your focus to your spare balls. As the name suggests, spare balls are the balls you use to hit spare shots. These are when you fail to hit a strike and you have to hit the remaining pins.

Generally speaking, using a strike ball to hit your spare shots is fine, but as you grow more in skill, you will realize that this is not the most effective way. 

But why are strike balls not optimal for spare shots? This is because strike shots are designed to have a certain amount of hook to it that allows it to curve slightly depending on how it is thrown.

With spare shots, you have to hit the remaining pins, so the target is smaller, and you will need more accuracy. Strike balls are not optimal because you have to be very precise in your spare shots. The problem is that it’s harder to hit spare pins with a ball that curves.

When you need to throw a spare shot, you do not have the time to analyze how your strike ball will roll to those spare pins, and this increases your chances of missing your spare shots. This is where spare balls come in to play.

When choosing a spare ball, you need something that allows you to hit those spare pins more accurately. Generally speaking, you need a bowling ball that does not absorb the wax as it travels over the bowling lane. For this, urethane balls or plastic balls are much more preferable. 

When choosing your spare ball, you must be conscious of the core of the ball. As a beginner, you may be better off with a bowling ball that has a slightly heavier core. Even though heavier balls travel slower over the bowling lane giving it more time to hook, they still give you that much-needed extra accuracy for hitting those remaining pins.

Several people prefer spare balls with symmetrical cores are they are easier to control and are much more accurate. You will have better luck doing the same as well. As you progress with bowling and you gain experience, and you are getting more skilled, much of your bowling ball collection will be composed of spare balls.

You will most likely be contented with a few strike balls since, more often than not, it is generally the same situation for strike shots. However, there are many different situations for spare shots.

This is the reason why you will need different spare balls depending on the situation. As you grow in experience, you will realize that you need a different spare ball for different spare shots. 

Having different spare balls ensures that you are prepared for any eventuality that might happen in the course of the game. If you choose the right spare balls and master them accordingly, then you will be able to finish those spare pins, and you will rack up that much more points. 

Why You Should Have Different Bowling Balls

You need different bowling balls because the situation of the game changes as the game progresses. It is not as simple as throwing the ball down the middle and scoring strike shots. The lanes will be waxed. The ball goes straighter the more the lane is waxed, and the ball will tend to curve as the lane gets drier.

As the game progresses, the wax begins to uneven, and some areas of the lane will be drier while some will be more waxed. This means that you will have to adjust your throw depending on the situation. As you begin to excel in bowling, this reality will be clearer and clearer. 

Final Thoughts

To play a game of bowling, you only need one ball. However, that will not be very efficient. Generally, you need two types of balls. These are your strike balls and your spare balls. Strike balls are for strike shots, while spare balls are for hitting those remaining pins when you fail to hit a strike.

As a general rule of thumb, strike balls need to have a decent amount of hook potential to increase your chances of hitting a strike. Spare balls, on the other hand, require more accuracy.

You need to have different balls for the different situations throughout the game.

The wax on the lanes gets uneven as the game progresses, so you have to adjust your shots. Hopefully, this article has covered the basics as to why you should have different balls and how many balls you need. As you continue with bowling, you will soon find your preferences as to how many bowling balls you should bring.