One of the benefits of bowling is that it’s relatively cheap to participate in. If you hunt around for deals you can expect to spend just a couple of bucks per game. Shoe rental will run another few dollars, and of course the alley provides bowling balls to use so you don’t have to spend a dime on that. But should you? We say yes. Although everyone starts with alley balls (commonly called “house balls” among bowlers) they’re not ideal if you have any aspirations of improving your game. There are a few reasons why getting your own bowling ball is advantageous, and this article will go over them.
First, it’s very difficult to be consistent when you’re using house balls because they aren’t fitted to your hand. Sure, you can probably find one where your fingers fit in relatively well, but a custom-fit ball that’s drilled to your own hand measurements makes it much easier to throw accurate shots.
Second, house balls are usually old and banged up, and their materials are not the best for bowlers looking to get better. Specifically, their coverstock is made of plastic, which is a decent material for straight shots but not suited for spin. A spin, or hook, shot is the preferred method when you want to get more strikes, which is just about every bowler I’ve met. Sooner or later you’ll want to try spinning the ball and the plastic house balls won’t be very good for this.
Bowling balls for sale at your local pro shop are made of different materials, such as urethane and reactive resin, which are specifically designed to create friction between the outside of the ball and the lane surface, which leads to more hook, especially in the oily parts of the lane where this is more difficult. (Plastic balls do have a place among experienced bowlers, but as a dedicated ball for picking up spares, a situation where you usually do want a straight trajectory for your ball. Even for this purpose, it’s better to get your own ball as it will be of higher quality and less dinged up after years of rough use by all varieties of players.) Some are better suited for particular lane conditions (like a regular house pattern or a heavy oil pattern) while others are a good general ball no matter what situation you encounter.
Top names in bowling ball manufacturing include Brunswick, Storm and Ebonite, which are all trusted and have served bowlers for many generations. Some other popular brands are actually owned by these larger companies, such as Hammer which is under the Ebonite corporate umbrella. In addition, there are some smaller younger upstarts that are doing big things in the bowling ball world, such as 900 Global and Motiv.
In addition to these functional reasons, bowling balls aren’t that expensive, especially if you shop online where you can often find great deals that can get into the range of 40-50% off regular price. (Amazon and other top bowling ball sites will also often provide free shipping.) And also important is the psychological effect that comes with your purchase: spending something on your bowling game tells yourself you are making an investment in getting better, and that makes it easier to set and keep goals and maintain motivation when the going gets tough or life gets in the way. Overall, purchasing your own ball is a great idea for all the reasons mentioned here. It will almost always increase your bowling confidence and help you to take that next step and become a better bowler.