Do Bowling Balls Go Bad?

do bowling balls go bad

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do bowling balls go bad

When it comes to bowling, it’s not just about the perfect strike and the ability to roll a 300 game. The ball is just as crucial as the bowler. A great ball can allow you to stay in a league you’re far behind, while a foul ball can ruin your whole night. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, precisely what can happen to bowl balls.

The ball can deteriorate for various reasons, but regardless of the cause, the result is the same: you’ll have a near-useless ball that won’t perform well no matter how many times you try. This article will discuss why your ball can go wrong, check for the problem, and get the ball back into playing shape.

What Causes Bowling Balls to Go Bad?

All balls start as perfect. But eventually, even the best of them will begin to wear down and lose their accuracy and responsiveness. If you examine your bowling ball closely, you’ll be able to determine what may be causing it to go wrong or wear down so quickly. There are a few common reasons balls go wrong, but first, let’s discuss what causes a ball to wear down.

  • Wear and Tear

The most common cause of a ball’s deterioration is wear and tear. Over time, the coating on the ball wears away, exposing the steel beneath. The materials that make up a bowling ball are expensive and known to be accessible to damage, so it’s no surprise that some balls go bad within their first year.

Worn balls are also more likely to become deformed and miss the pins because their surface becomes too slimy for good resiliency. For this reason, you need to inspect your ball periodically and pay close attention when it’s going down, or you should be able to notice changes if they do occur.

Another potential cause of wear-and-tear is a heavy ball during an uneven strike or release of pressure during delivery. If this occurs, the weight may be too much for your particular ball in the lane and can lead it quickly toward deterioration due to general wear and tear.

  • Sealant Loss

Many people blame poor performance on lost oil from the manufacturer or misuse their bowling balls. Most balls feature sealant that provides lubrication between layers (this is why brand ballplayers often like to keep their balls in their bowling bag in case they need to re-lube) and dries quickly.

Sealant is used to help the ball roll smoothly, so sealant present on the surface must be able to do its job. If it does not, the ball may be off-center when you strike it with your finger or arm, preventing you from placing the ball correctly for a long time before it becomes apparent.

Sometimes, a ball will be too worn out for good performance, but more often than not, this substance is what prevents you from having a handy and sturdy bowling ball.

How to Check if Your Ball is Bad

The first step to checking if your bowling ball is terrible is looking for noticeable wear and tear signs. You should be able to see that the ball is not round or that there are cracks on it. If you see these signs, it’s probably time for you to change your bowling ball. Take a look at some other signs of poor performance:

1) If the ball constantly bounces back into the same place after you hit it, it indicates going bad. The paint may have worn away, but most likely, the ball has become out-of-round due to damage due to excessive vibration during delivery, which will create a wobbling effect.

2) To check if your ball is terrible because of oil loss, go back in forth with your finger over the surface of the ball while striking it at a medium pace. If there’s no sheen left on your finger after doing this five times (a good test), you can assume that everything has dried up.

3) Finally, take note of how much effort you need to put in when bowling with older balls because you will notice how much better other balls perform than yours.

If these signs of poor performance are present in your bowling ball, then it’s time to change it with a new one. But if the suggested characters aren’t there, the most likely reason is that you may be experiencing oil loss. Many more unique balls feature sealant and an exact amount of oil that will help your ball last much longer than before. This is not to say you shouldn’t change your ball; it’s better to get a new one regularly because it will help extend its longevity and performance.

How Can I Prevent Oil Loss?

If you’re constantly changing your bowling ball every 1-2 months from some oil loss, you’re not maintaining proper lubrication for the bowling surface or the ball itself.

So how can you prevent this? The general ways include:

1) Using your best bowling balls and using them regularly will mainly ensure good performance for moderate use (generally around 300-400 deliveries).

2) Also, using an overcoat/polish helps keep things nice and smooth because of its slippery feel instead of a rough and dull finish. You need to use a thinner polish application and use a fine-tooth comb or a brush simultaneously.

3) Lastly, using longer-lasting bowling balls will help prevent the damage and the premature wear that could potentially occur. However, in most cases, these balls come in sets of 3-4 balls, not one by itself. Also, you will find two performance characteristics with bowling balls—those used for recreational and those used for competitive play—which makes it difficult to match.

How to Return a Bad Ball to Playability

If your ball is terrible, it’s best to get rid of it and replace it with a new ball before it gets too old. Ideally, you should return the ball after about 95 games. If you’re a league bowler and have a long season, it’s even better to replace the ball after 90 games. The best way to know if your current ball is terrible is to get it to play. You’ll know right away if you can get the ball to the extra lane.

If you can’t get it to the extra lane, it’s still possible to get the ball to playability. To get the ball back to playability, you’ll need to perform a few maintenance steps to your lane. The essential idea to remember here is to keep the streets clean.


There’s no doubt that a lousy bowling ball can ruin your night. Luckily, it’s an easy problem to solve. We’ve outlined the common causes of an awful bowling ball, and we’ve included instructions on how to properly check your ball for a terrible condition, so you’re prepared. If your ball is awful, you must get a new ball before it gets too old. After all, what’s the fun in bowling if you don’t get to throw a few strikes? Now that you’re prepared, you’ll be ready to shine bright with a new bowling ball.

Picture of Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

I play bowling almost daily, and on the days I'm not? I'm writing about my day and what I need to do to improve myself as a better bowling player.

Picture of Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

I play bowling almost daily, and on the days I'm not? I'm writing about my day and what I need to do to improve myself as a better bowling player.

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