Reactive Resin Bowling Balls

Add Backend to Your Strike Shots

Hammer Jigsaw Corner Reactive-Resin Bowling Ball
A Hammer Jigsaw Corner reactive-resin bowling ball. Photo courtesy of Hammer

Ball manufacturers first added resin particles to urethane cover stocks in the early 1990s. Whereas urethane balls already had a better hook potential than plastic, the resin particles made the cover stock even tackier, increasing the hook potential.

Most bowlers at most levels on most lane conditions use a reactive-resin cover stock. If you’re a recreational bowler who always uses a house ball (which is almost always plastic), and you throw a reactive-resin ball, you’re going to be surprised at how much more it hooks (or that it hooks at all).

Bowler, Meet Backend

The porous surface of the reactive-resin cover stock allows the ball to absorb oil on its way down the lane, appearing to skid past the oil pattern before gripping the lane at the break point and turning hard toward the pocket. In other words, on a regular oil pattern, the ball is intended to skid out to the break point, then grab onto the lane and hook aggressively into the pins. This is called backend.

Backend is important because it drastically increases your strike potential. With a urethane ball that gradually hooks all the way down the lane, your entry angle to the pocket won’t be as strong as that of a reactive-resin ball that skids to the end of the oil and then makes a sharp turn into the pins.

Reactive-Resin Limits

Because of the grip at the end of the lane, a lot of bowlers find it difficult to pick up certain spares with a reactive resin ball. You’ll notice most pro bowlers use a plastic ball for many of their spare shots.

Especially for a novice or moderate bowler, the corner pins are difficult to pick up (the 10 pin for righties and the 7 pin for lefties). If you’re just learning the game, it might sound odd to find out you’re hooking the ball too much, but it can be the case.

If you’re struggling to pick up spares with your reactive-resin ball, or even if not, you should consider adding a plastic ball to your arsenal.

Almost every professional bowler uses a plastic ball for most spares, namely single pins, as the plastic surface allows the player's accuracy to dictate whether or not he picks up the spare. With reactive resin, even if a player throws a shot with perfect accuracy, there is a chance the ball will find some friction and hook in front of the single pin. At such a high level of bowling, no one wants to be whiffing single pins.

Increase In Price to Increase In Strikes

Reactive-resin balls cost significantly more than plastic balls, which can intimidate beginning bowlers who simply want a ball of their own. But if you’re really going to work at improving your game, it’s worth the extra money to get a reactive-resin ball.

In the modern game of bowling, unless you are unbelievably talented (and even then it would be a stretch), you'll need a reactive-resin ball to compete in tournaments or even league. The lane conditions are such that a plastic ball won't be able to strike as consistently as a urethane ball or, especially, a reactive-resin ball.


Because of that, some bowlers don't like how far bowling-ball technology has come. They say it is making the game too easy. The counterpoint is that while a ball may be advanced enough to help a player strike on a shot that wasn't his best, the player still needs to know which ball to throw and where to throw it in order to catch that all-important break.

The debate further gets into novice bowlers. Wouldn't a novice bowler rather strike than struggle? Probably, but there are arguments as to whether or not that is a good thing.