What are Bowling Balls Made of? Materials and Types

If you have ever wondered "what are bowling balls made of" then you are reading the right article.
Girl with bowling ball on alley played at bowling club.

There are many different types of bowling balls on the market these days. Some are made of plastic, some are made of resin, and others are made of urethane.

What all of these materials have in common is that they provide a smooth surface for the ball to roll on when it is thrown down the lane. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what bowling balls are made of and discuss the different types that you can find on the market today!

1. What is a Bowling Ball Made Of?

2. Materials Used in Making Bowling Balls

3. Plastic Bowling Balls

4. Resin Bowling Balls

5. Urethane Bowling Balls

6. Composite Bowling Balls

7. How are bowling balls made?

Woman throwing bowling ball

What is a Bowling Ball Made Of?

Overall, bowling balls can be made of three different types of coverstock materials – polyester, urethane, and resin (reactive urethane). There is also an inner core material that is made of either polyurethane or rubber.

The Cover Stock

The coverstock material is what the ball’s surface is made of. This material can be polished to provide a smooth finish, or it can be sanded to provide a rougher finish. The type of coverstock material you choose will depend on your bowling style and the lane conditions you are bowling on.

Weight Block or Inner Core

pancake core

The inner core material is what gives the ball its weight and determines how much hook (spin) you will get when you throw it. The weight block is usually made of polyurethane or rubber, and the size and shape of the weight block will also affect the ball’s performance.

Core Shapes

HustleTM Core symmetrical

The weight block is the innermost part of the bowling ball. It comes in a variety of different shapes that affects ball motion on the lane. There are symmetrical balls, asymmetrical balls, and more traditional pancake core balls.

A bowling ball core can affect your performance by changing the ball motion during your roll.

Bowling ball cores generally ship with a certain brand of a bowling ball. For example, a new bowling ball like the Hammer Black Widow 2.0 comes with a gas mask core.

As far as I know, you can’t swap out weight blocks easily unless you have a custom ball made from scratch. So be sure to check out a ball’s core before you make any purchase.

Materials Used in Making Bowling Balls

There are a few different materials that can be used to make a bowling ball. The most common materials are plastic, resin, and urethane. Each of these materials has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

The least expensive material for bowling balls is polyester. Polyester does not give as much hook as other materials because it is unaffected by the oils on the lane.

Other Materials

There are a few different materials that can be used to make the core of a bowling ball. Some of these materials, like barium or bismuth graphite, create a ceramic or plastic-like material.

Bowling ball manufacturers like Track Inc. say that fired ceramic balls are more powerful because they don’t absorb energy like graphite or plastic cores do. Sometimes, iron oxide is also used to create a better center of gravity.

Polyester – Plastic Bowling Balls

One of the most common materials used to make bowling balls is plastic. It is also referred to as a polyester ball. Almost every house ball in America is a polyester ball.

Very Affordable

Polyester balls are typically the cheapest option on the market. They are also very durable and can last for many years with proper care. The lane surface for most bowling lanes is set up for polyester balls.

Low Hook Potential

However, plastic balls do not have as much force behind them as other types of balls. This means that they are not always the best choice for serious bowlers. If you are looking for hook potential then you will likely not want to go with plastic balls. This is why house balls don’t hook very well.

You need more friction to hook than what you get with polyester balls. The weight block in a polyester ball is also usually more of the more traditional core shapes and is usually a pancake.

Great Beginner Ball


Plastic Bowling balls are great for beginners or for people who are just looking to have some fun at the bowling lanes. If you are serious about your game, however, you may want to consider one of the other options.

Urethane Ball

Urethane bowling balls are made of a soft plastic material. They are the most expensive type of ball on the market, but they also have the most force behind them. Urethane balls are the best choice for experienced bowlers who are looking to improve their game.

Urethane balls are the best choice for experienced bowlers who are looking to improve their game. Urethane balls are also the easiest to find so you are in luck.

High Hook Potential

This coverstock is more durable than plastic. It offers more friction between the ball and the lane surface. This means that urethane has a higher hook potential than plastic.

Because of the increased friction on the lane, urethane tends to deflect less which results in better pin action.

Resin For Tackiness

Amazon-com - Reactive Bowling Ball 7-4-2022 11-34-26 AM

A reactive bowling ball has a urethane coverstock with particles of resin mixed in. Reactive balls have a sticky resin that gives the ball a tackiness that increases the grip the ball has on the lane. Here are a couple of reactive balls you can check out.

So basically there is such a thing as a reactive urethane ball, it’s just that most bowlers call it “reactive resin.”

Is a Urethane Ball Expensive?

Urethane is more expensive than polyester, but it offers more hook ability and it needs less upkeep than resin. Resin is the most expensive material, but it offers more durability and hook power than either polyester or urethane.

Reactive Resin Balls

Resin bowling balls are made of a hard plastic material. They are typically more expensive than plastic balls, but they also have more force behind them. Resin balls are a good option for beginner and intermediate bowlers.

Lane conditions and a heavy oil pattern can determine how a ball travels. Reactive resin balls tend to give the ball more hook when the ball enters the pocket. The increased friction created on the backend gives competitive bowlers an advantage on heavily oiled lanes.

Many bowlers use a reactive resin ball for their strike ball but then move on to plastic or polyester for their spare balls.

Composite Bowling Balls

Composite bowling balls are made of a mixture of materials. They usually have a plastic outer shell and a resin or urethane inner core. Composite balls are more expensive than plastic balls, but they are also more durable.

Rubber Bowling Balls

Discontinued in the early 2000s, rubber bowling balls were made of a soft, spongy material. They were the cheapest type of ball on the market, but they did not have as much force behind them.

Rubber balls are no longer made, but you may be able to find one at a used sporting goods store.

Should I Choose Plastic or Urethane Balls?

That is going ot be up to you. If you need a spare ball then plastic is your best option. If you want a ball that will offer more hook potential, then urethane is the better choice. If you are just starting out, then composite or resin balls may be the best option for you.

How are Bowling Balls Made?

  • A core is made by putting two materials together. The first material is put in a mold and then the second material is put on top. It is then shaped into a sphere.
  • After the core is removed from the mold, it is placed into a coverstock mold. The coverstock material is then poured over the core to encase it.
  • After the ball is removed from its coverstock molding, a hole is seen where the pin was prior. This hole is filled with a plastic dowel. The imprint is then filled with material.
  • The last steps in making a perfect bowling ball are shaving, resurfacing, sanding, and polishing it.

Modern Day Bowling Balls

Most bowlers are looking for a modern bowling ball that will produce great ball hook. Rubber balls from the 60′ and 70’s just don’t cut it anymore.

The three materials that are currently used to make today’s bowling balls are polyester, urethane, and reactive resin.

Polyester is the least expensive of the three materials. It is also the least durable and offers the least amount of ball hook.

Urethane is more expensive than polyester, but it is also more durable. Urethane bowling balls offer good ball hook and are a good choice for beginner and intermediate bowlers.

Reactive resin is the most expensive of the three materials. It is also the most durable and offers the most ball hook. Reactive resin balls are the best choice for experienced bowlers who are looking to improve their game.

United States Bowling Congress Banned Balls

The United States Bowling Congress and Storm Products have agreed that the six Storm Products manufactured ball models will not be allowed in national tournaments.

If a ball from one of these models is used in a national tournament, the bowler will be given a replacement ball. This agreement comes after USBC found that the models had a percentage of balls produced below USBC minimum 73D hardness specification.

The USBC investigated some ball models and found that they were not as hard as they were supposed to be. Storm worked with the USBC after being notified of this testing.

The following models do not meet approved bowling ball specifications:

  • Storm Phaze 4
  • Storm Electrify Solid
  • Storm Trend 2
  • 900 Global Altered Reality
  • 900 Global Wolverine
  • Roto Grip UFO Alert

From March 30, 2022, these balls models are not permitted to be used in USBC national tournaments, such as the USBC Masters, U.S. Open, U.S. Open Championships, USBC Women’s Championships, all PWBA Tour events, USBC Junior Gold and Youth Open Championships, USBC Intercollegiate Championships, USBC Team USA Trials, and the USBC Senior Masters.

What is the best material for a bowling ball?

When it comes to bowling, everyone wants to have the best possible equipment. After all, the better your gear is, the better your chances of scoring a strike. When it comes to choosing a bowling ball, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, you’ll want to choose a material that is durable and won’t show signs of wear after just a few uses. Second, you’ll want to select a material that is weighty enough to really pack a punch when it hits the pins. And finally, you’ll want to pick a material that provides good grip so you can keep control of your ball.

With all these factors in mind, we believe that the best material for a bowling ball is polyester. Polyester is incredibly durable, meaning your ball will last for many games to come. It’s also quite heavy, so you can be sure it will make an impact when it hits the pins.

And finally, it provides good grip so you can keep control of your ball and aim for that strike. So if you’re looking for the best possible bowling ball, we recommend selecting one made from polyester. You won’t be disappointed.

Who invented the bowling ball?

This is a tough one to answer, as there is no one person who can be credited with inventing the bowling ball. Instead, it seems that the bowling ball was invented by a team of people over the course of several years.

The game of bowling can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times where a tomb of a child contained what seemed to be a game with pins and a round object.

The first known reference to a ball being used for bowling dates back to 1366, when English poet John Gower wrote about “a round stone… which at endeth with a bowl.” However, it wasn’t until 1670 that the first recorded game of bowling using a ball took place in New York City.

So while we may not know exactly who invented the bowling ball, we do know that it was invented sometime between 1366 and 1670. And we’re certainly glad it was! After all, where would we be without this beloved game?

Where are Bowling Balls Manufactured?

While there are many brands of bowling balls on the market, it’s important to note that not all of them are manufactured in the United States. In fact, many bowling balls are produced overseas in countries like China and India.

There are a few reasons for this. First, labor is much cheaper in these countries, so manufacturers can save a lot of money by producing their products there. Second, these countries have fewer regulations when it comes to manufacturing, so companies can cut corners and produce lower-quality products.

Unfortunately, this means that many bowling balls on the market today are of poor quality and won’t last very long. So if you’re looking for a durable ball that will withstand repeated use, we recommend choosing one that is manufactured in the United States.

While you may have to pay a bit more for a US-made ball, it will be worth it in the long run as your ball will last much longer.

How often should you clean your bowling ball?

Ideally, you should clean your bowling ball after every use. This will help remove any dirt or grime that has built up on the surface of the ball and prevent it from being absorbed into the pores of the material.

If you can’t clean your ball after every use, aim to do it at least once a week. And if you bowl frequently, you may need to clean your ball multiple times per week.

Should I Buy My Own Ball

Yes! If you bowl frequently, we recommend purchasing your own ball. This way, you can be sure that the ball is properly sized for your hand and that it’s made from a material that you’re comfortable with.

Plus, owning your own ball gives you the opportunity to personalize it with your name or initials. And let’s be honest, bowling just isn’t as fun if you don’t have your own ball to use!

Ball Motion

Ball motion in bowling is determined by the speed at which you throw the ball and the amount of spin you put on it.

The faster you throw the ball, the more it will hook (or curve) as it moves down the lane. And if you add spin to the ball, it will also affect its motion.

When the ball happens to strike the bowling pins in just the right spot with exactly the correct amount of spin, this can cause pin scatter. Competitive bowlers recognize that employing solid reactive coverstocks like those found in contemporary balls increases your chances of achieving that ideal strike.

What material are house bowling balls?

House balls are usually made of a hard plastic material and have a smooth surface. This type of ball is easy to control and is a good choice for beginners.

Summing It All Up

A bowling ball is made of a durable, heavyweight material that provides good grip. The best material for a bowling ball is polyester, which is why we recommend selecting one made from this substance. Polyester balls are manufactured in the United States and are known for their durability. If you’re looking for a quality ball that will last for many games to come, a polyester ball is your best bet.

However, if hook potential is what you are after, go with a reactive resin or urethane ball. Reactive resin offers the most hook potential while urethane provides a more controlled ball motion. If your bowling style is more suited for straighter shots, then a plastic ball may be what you are looking for. No matter what your bowling style is, there is a type of ball out there that will help you improve your game. So get out there and start bowling!

No matter what type of bowler you are, there is a bowling ball out there that will suit your needs. Whether you need a durable ball for repeated use or one with hook potential, the right ball can help you knock down all the pins each time. So get out there and start bowling! And don’t forget to clean your ball after every use!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a little off the top to help me keep this website running. 

2 Responses

  1. I’m a left handed full-roller. What is the core shape and cover stock I should be using on dry lane conditions? Thank you

    1. For left-handed bowlers on dry lanes, you will want a bowling ball with a shiny or plastic-looking cover with a high polish. These stiff coverstocks will help you traverse the lane more efficiently. Polyester or urethane bowling balls will probably suit your needs on dry lanes the best.
      If you are looking for lots of hook then you definitely want to go asymmetric. If you are going for spares in the same scenario, then your spare ball should be pancake core.

      Hope this helps!

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