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Versatile Bowling Balls, Originally Posted: 6/1/2014; Updated: 10/28/2022

The most versatile bowling balls are ones which produce a controllable ball motion and a dependable skid length. Generally speaking, symmetric bowling balls can be a help in attaining the smooth and controllable ball motion you seek for most lane conditions. Examining bowling ball symmetric core designs also involves a quick comparison to asymmetric core bowling balls.

The primary differences are that symmetric ball produce a good skid distance in the front end, a controllable arc motion in the mid lane, and a reliable back end motion from the breakpoint to the pocket. Asymmetric bowling balls tend to produce increased skid length and an sharper or more angular back end motion than do symmetric bowling balls. The United States Bowling Association (USBC) field studies have proven that all drilled bowling balls are asymmetrical, whether they are symmetrical or asymmetrical before drilling.

Therefore, the degree of symmetry influences the overall motion after the initial skid phase. On most house lane conditions, the front ends of the lanes have sufficient oil to help your ball easily skid to the mid-lane where the ball enters the 2nd phase of motion, the hook phase. It is in the mid-lane where obtaining a controllable degree of hook is critical for a dependable overall ball motion.

Symmetric bowling balls tend to produce a smooth transition from the initial skid phase to the hook phase and then another smooth transition into the roll phase on the back end. Varying degrees of symmetry produce more or less pronounced arc motion in the mid-lane.

Another key is the coverstock texture. A matte finish, solid reactive coverstock symmetric ball can be textured to react quickly as it enters the mid-lane to compensate for excessive lane oil (heavy oil).  A shiny solid reactive coverstock produces a longer skid length than the matte finish solid reactive ball so the arc motion, albeit still very controllable, tends to produce a strong arc motion in the mid-lane with slightly increased angle of entry on the back end into the pocket. Of course, any reactive coverstock ball can have the surface texture altered to either slightly increase or decrease skid length and back end angle of entry.

It is the responsibility of the pro shop professional to point out the type of ball you are choosing to drill relating to ball reaction capabilities and it is your responsibility to request and communicate a given ball motion you seek with the pro shop personnel. A symmetric ball can also be further augmented depending which drilling layout you choose.

You can choose layouts to weaken the ball motion or increase the ball motion in the mid-lane and on the back end. Typically, a symmetric core bowling ball should be a staple in your arsenal. Using a bowling ball which is very smooth reacting and producing a dependable ball motion will be a very versatile ball in your bowling bag.
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