Bowling Ball Weight – How Heavy is Right for You?

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If you suffer from shoulder pain, back pain, arm pain, wrist pain or any other pain consistently after bowling maybe you should look at your bowling ball for the cure.

Ten pin bowling balls are available by weight in, 1 pound increments, from about 6 pounds up to the maximum of 16 pounds. Beginning or younger bowlers usually start with a lighter weight ball, and as their skill increases, or as they grow they move to a heavier ball. Many bowlers get to a ball weight that they feel is their maximum weight and stay there for many years.

Many mature male bowlers, I would even say most, use a 16 pound ball. For many of them this is the correct weight for them, and for just as many it is probably too heavy. Male ego being what it is prevents them from thinking of changing to a lower weight.

There is a myth among bowlers that by changing to a lighter weight ball they will not be as effective at carrying the corner pins, or they will not bowl as many strikes. At some lighter weights this may be true; however that weight is much lighter than most bowlers think. In reality a properly delivered 12 pound ball is as effective as a properly thrown 16 pound ball.

Most bowlers are not aware of the intense exertion a heavy bowling ball can put on their joints, many of them, are afraid to change to a lower weight. And they are not aware of how much less pain they will have, and how much better they may bowl, using a lower weight ball.

Using myself as an example, I have been bowling competitively in leagues and tournaments for more that forty years with an average of between 185 and 205. For most of that time I used a 16 pound ball. A few years ago I noticed that after league bowling my shoulder would hurt for a couple of days afterward, sometimes to the point that I could not perform normal household chores. Of course I bought into that myth about not being able to carry as many strikes, and having one of those aforementioned male egos, I suffered for more than a year before thinking of changing.

Then there is also the cost of changing that needs to be considered. I had about 6 or 7 bowling balls, and a couple of favorites all were 16 pounds, I toyed with the thought of buying only one lighter ball, but felt that this would not really help as I knew I would need to change balls as lane conditions dictated. I bite the bullet and bought 4 new 15 pound balls, and gave away all of my 16 pounders, even the favorites.

And what was the outcome of this experiment? My average has remained about what it was, and even a little higher, I have no more trouble with corner pins than before and still carry my share of strikes, some of my team mates would say more than my share. And I have no shoulder pain, even after a 6 or more game tournament, and to my wife’s delight I no longer get out of the household chores.

Since I changed to the lower weight a few of my team mates have also done so, one even went from 16 pounds down to 14 and he is bowling better than he ever did.

My advice, if you are experiencing pain from bowling, ditch the myth and the ego, go down at least one pound in weight and enjoy bowling more.

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Jimmie Newell

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