How Much Should Your Bowling Ball Weigh?

Find the Right Weight for Your Game

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The heaviest legal bowling ball weighs 16 pounds. The lightest weight you can usually find at most bowling alleys is six pounds. That's a significant 10-pound range, and you can choose a ball anywhere within its limits. But how do you know which weight is right for you?

It's Not About Anyone Else

Some people like to impress their friends by grabbing a 10-pound ball and hurling it at unbelievable speeds or trajectories toward the pins. Not only is this potentially hazardous and disrespectful to the bowling alley, but any ball you're able to throw that hard or high is probably too light. You might be able to get a few exploding strikes, but the ball isn't heavy enough to consistently knock down all the pins.

Conversely, some people look for the heaviest ball on the rack to impress their friends with their brute strength. Another mistake. Throwing a ball that's too heavy can cause serious injury and—at the very least—some discomfort. If you can't physically handle that heavy ball, why bother? You'll just look ridiculous trying so your purpose will be defeated.

How Heavy is Heavy Enough? How Heavy is Too Heavy?

Your ideal ball weight is the heaviest ball you can comfortably throw throughout an entire night of bowling. If you can throw a 16-pound ball comfortably for five frames but then you get sore or tired, you need a lighter ball. If you're throwing a 12-pound ball with extreme ease, you probably need a heavier ball.

The more weight you have on your ball, the more force you'll have with which to knock down pins. But if you can't get the ball there with any speed, you end up canceling out all that weight. Your optimum ball weight is the heaviest ball you can throw consistently.

Some Additional Guidelines

One rule of thumb says you should select a ball that's equal to 10 percent of your body weight. Of course, if you weigh 200 pounds, this isn't possible, but it still indicates that you should probably go for that 16-pound ball. If you weigh 120 pounds, a 12-pound ball should be in your comfort range. But again, it has everything to do with your physical condition.

If you're somewhat out of shape, start lighter and work your way up to 10 percent of your weight, assuming this isn't just a one-time bowling outing and you want to pursue it as an ongoing sport. If bowling is just a fun night out, go light so you're sure to enjoy yourself without strains, sprains or muscle aches the next day. 

Most men use with 14- to 16-pound bowling balls, while women tend to do well with 10- to 14-pound balls. If you're taking the kids along, assign one pound for each year of age, such as a 6-pound ball for a six-year-old, but you'll also want to take gender and physical condition into account. A 10-year-old boy may be much stronger than a 10-year-old girl, particularly if the boy is active in other sports like football or baseball.