What’s the Right Bowling Ball Weight for You?

Close up photo of person picking up a bowling ball from the ball return

One of the most frequently asked bowling questions is how to select the right bowling ball weight. Many casual and beginner bowlers just grab a ball and go for it, but if you really want to improve your game, you’ll have to be a little more picky when it comes to your gear. Read on for some bowling ball selection tips from the pros at Richmond 40 Bowl

Why Does Bowling Ball Weight Matter?

For novice bowlers, the importance of selecting the right bowling ball may not be as apparent as it is for more experienced bowlers. However, there are several reasons why you need to find the correct bowling ball weight for you, including: 


If you’re using a bowling ball that is too light for you, it will be much easier to swing—and that’s part of the problem. Upon release, the ball may end up several feet further down the lane than normal, reducing the amount of control you have on your shot. 


Another obvious issue with using a ball that is too light is that you’ll be reducing the potential power of your shot. To be successful at bowling, you need a lot of energy to hit those pins and send them flying to (hopefully) take out their neighbors.  

Avoiding Injury

On the other hand (no pun intended), you don’t want to go overboard with a heavier ball than you’re ready for. If you find that you end up dropping the ball at the foul line, having trouble lifting your arm on the backswing, or just feeling like your fingers can’t support the weight, it’s time to downsize to a lighter ball. 

Finding the Right Bowling Ball Weight

Choosing Bowling Balls for Kids

If you’re helping a child select a bowling ball, start with the weight that correlates to their age— a 9 year old with a nine pound ball, a ten year old with a ten pound ball, and so on. Bowling ball weights start at 6 pounds, but if your child is 5 years old or younger and can handle the weight, they can learn to bowl.

To test this, have them hold the ball straight out in front of their body for a moment, and swing like they’re preparing to throw the ball a few times. If they can comfortably do so, they’re good to go. If not, wait until your child is a little older and has grown strong enough to do so. Just like adults, kids should use the heaviest ball it’s safe for them to use. 

Choosing Bowling Balls for Teens and Adults

Bowling ball weights max out at 16 pounds, and most serious bowlers use balls in the 13-15 pound range. Test your ideal ball weight the same way mentioned above— hold it straight out in front of you, try a few practice swings, and see how your fingers are holding up. 

Bowlers over age 16 should start out trying a 16 pound ball and go down from there. Don’t forget to re-evaluate your ball every so often! As you become more practiced at bowling, you’ll strengthen your arms and be able to lift heavier balls over time.