What Bowling Balls are Banned by USBC?

We were out bowling the other night, and one of my friends brought out this fancy bowling ball that he had bought. It immediately sparked off a debate on balls that are permitted and those that are banned. That got me thinking, “why would the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) ban a particular ball?”

So what bowling balls are banned by USBC exactly? According to them, bowling balls with balance holes would be illegal starting August 1, 2020. Aside from that, balls like the Jackal and Jackal Carnage from Motiv were banned as well. You can find an extensive list of specific balls from various brands that were banned in this document.

Let’s find out more about these bowling balls that were banned by the USBC.

What is the Bowling Ball Ban About?

On April 24, 2018, the USBC announced that starting August 1, 2020, they would ban any bowling balls with a balance hole drilled in them. Despite alleys and pro shops being closed due to the pandemic, the ban date was not extended or changed.

This means that it is now illegal to use a bowling ball with a balance hole.

But What is a Balance Hole and Why Is It Banned?

A balance hole, or weight hole as it is also known, is a hole drilled in the side of the ball but not used for gripping or holding the ball.

A balance hole was meant to correct the static balance in bowling balls. But more recently, balance holes were used to change the design of the ball. In simple words, the balance hole changes the way the bowling ball behaves and moves.

Now, if you want to use a bowling ball that has a balance hole, you will be required to get the balance hole plugged before you can use it. This would mean you would have to leave it in the pro shop for a few days.

To compensate for the loss of the balance hole, the USBC has increased the weight specifications of the static side, finger, and thumb from one pound to three pounds. They say that with the new specifications, bowling balls do not need a balance hole.

Many pros and veterans do not believe that these changes will affect the game all that much.

What About Rubber Balls? Are They Legal?

While researching for information on banned bowling balls, I came across a query about rubber bowling balls which I found interesting.

Well, there are legal rubber balls that were popular in the 1960s. They were a Japanese design. The older generation of bowlers was divided on the use of rubber balls.

Some said they were difficult to use while some complained that it was hard to drill holes in them. Some said that drilling holes in the rubber balls gave off a very bad burnt smell. A few people also said that the rubber balls would leave skid marks on the lanes. There were a few who said that the old rubber bowling balls also messed up the ball return machines.

However, others praised these rubber bowling balls. A few of the people who liked the balls said they still used them for spares since they don’t get damaged easily.

Does the Weight of the Ball Matter?

While doing research, I also realized that you don’t necessarily need to use a heavy ball while bowling.

The maximum legal weight of a bowling ball is 16 pounds (7.27 kg), so a lot of people think that they should use the heaviest legal ball. It is possible that they feel a heavier ball will knock over the pins more easily. However, they overlook the fact that trying to bowl with a heavier ball could also lead to arm fatigue.

Most professionals use a lighter 14- or 15-pound ball. This way, they can bowl with no fatigue for many games. So, what is the best bowling ball weight for you? For most adults, the weight of the ball could be in the range of 14 to 16 pounds. For children, the weight could range from 6 to 14 pounds.

Some say that the weight of the bowling ball you use should be about 10 percent of your bodyweight (keeping the maximum 16-pound limit in mind). However, if you feel tired after one game, you are probably using a heavy ball and need to go down a pound or two.

Cleaning Your Bowling Ball

One very important aspect that I learned about was that you need to keep the bowling ball clean.

At the bowling alley, we suggest that you keep a microfiber cleaning towel so that you can clean your bowling ball between points. Every bowling alley uses special oils on the lanes to keep them in good condition. These oils easily collect dust and grime to dirty your ball, so cleaning is necessary.

To clean your bowling ball, you need to avoid any products with wax. The wax may shine your ball, but the wax would also fill up the fine pores in the ball. This could modify the performance of the ball.

Rather than cleaning products with wax, you could use any other polishes or finishing products. A good suggestion is to rub your bowling ball down with a bit of rubbing alcohol on your microfiber towel immediately after a game. The ball will be warm from the game and the pores will be open, making it easier to remove the dirt and grime from the ball.

How Long Does a Bowling Ball Last?

You use your bowling ball carefully. You clean it regularly. You get it resurfaced from time to time. So the question about the life of a bowling ball does arise.

When I was doing research, I read that some people say that a ball lasts for 300 games. However, another person talked about his friend who used his bowling ball for over 2000 games. He finally had to throw it away when it split into two.

A bowling ball can last for quite some time, but the performance of the ball may go down after many games. You could try asking a pro to bake the ball in a revivor or resurfacing it. Though, it may be a good idea to buy a new ball if money is not a problem. You can always keep your old favorite ball as a spare.

Parting Shot

For me, the journey to learn about banned bowling balls was interesting. I learned much more than that. Hope you do too!