15 or 16 pounds?

What is the right weight for you?

Assuming you are capable of throwing either weight, which one is right for you?  For a long time, it was always thought the heavier the ball the better.  In the end, it comes down to physics.  A heavier ball can transfer more energy to the pins on impact.  You would assume this translates into better pin carry.

Do 16 pound balls carry better than 15 pounds?

I think this is an argument that has gone on for sometime.  What I can say is that it was thought 16 pounds carries better for the reasons I mentioned before.  Since traditionally, when the ball enters the pocket, it should hit the 1, 3, 5, 9 pins (for righties), you didn’t want it to deflect too much.  It was thought that lower weight would deflect more, causing the ball to finish further to the right off the pin deck.  That is surely true for balls 13 pounds and below.  It’s all a matter of relativity.  The lower the weight is, the closer it becomes in weight to the objects it intends to knock down, leading to more deflection due to the change in dynamic energy transfer.

Current Technology Impact

Everything about today’s equipment is more ‘dynamic’ than it used to be.  The cores are more dense and larger in some cases.  We generally don’t use pancake weight blocks except in entry level bowling balls.  Reactive resin balls do not react much to oil and react to dry very quickly, meaning they save quite a bit of energy. See the following article for more on this topic. New technology balls drive through the pocket very hard. In fact, modern day equipment tends to drive so hard, many times it finishes to the left of the 9 pin off the pin deck, sometimes missing it completely. Next time you throw your bowling ball down the lane, have a look at where it finishes at the back of the pin deck!

Too much drive?
Let’s come back to 15 vs 16 pounds. It is thought that since today’s equipment stores so much energy for the backends, they deflect less than they used to. That is what causes you to leave stone 9s. It will happen with 15 or 16 pounds.

However…
The current thinking is that due to lower deflection and increased weight, a modern day 16 pound ball may have less effective carry than a 15 pound ball. This means that the slight decrease in weight allows the ball to deflect more, which in the modern game is needed. Remember, this is relative to the current reactive equipment which simply drives much harder than older equipment.

Answer…
Today, most pros and pro shop operators prefer and recommend 15 pound equipment. The decreased weight and dynamic strength of the modern-day equipment work more effectively together to increase carry.

We all want better carry!
Think about this the next time you go to purchase a new ball, especially if you still throw 16 pounds. Unless you’re a big burly dude, you probably don’t need a 16 pound ball and the ball will simply be more effective. Also, consider that there is more pressure on your wrist so if you have physical problems, rest assured that 15 pound equipment is extremely successful.

Don’t be ashamed…you will still be a manly man :-) Go for 15 pounds!

Comments

  1. Some food for thought – I bowl with 15 pound equipment, but I have seen a recent trend in a lot of the higher average bowlers going to 14 pound balls. Most of these are 20-something guys that put a lot of revs on the ball. When I ask them why, some of them are doing this because of injuries, but most are trying and get more speed (match their speed to their revs)…I threw 14 pound equipment for a year and a half due to an injured elbow and I found that my carry did not suffer.

  2. Hi Paul, that’s a very good point. Of course the article assumes you are physically capable to throw 15 or 16 pounds, but there is plenty of evidence now that 14 pounds are pretty dynamic in their own right. In fact, sometimes even more so since the core weight stays the same, but the shell is less. A forthcoming article will discuss matching speed to revs and how critical this is, but I fully agree with your comment.
    Your local pro should help you decide what’s the best way to go.

  3. Brian Manchester says:

    how about an article on lane play during the weater changes (ie winter-spring) how the houses are cold to warm and the differance it makes in ball reations.

    Some people out there at this time of the season think equip has died by now when its the lanes /oil / weather conditions that have them messed up.

    I myself have some problems in this area, takes 3-4 nights to get the brain out of winter mode.

  4. I had to drop to 15 lb. about 4 years ago. Developed pain in front of elbow/forearm that felt like a hot knife going thru it. Had to drop or I wouldn’t have been able to finish the season. I have noticed absolutely no decrease in carry and I certainly can leave stone 8′s and nine’s with the best of them. :)

  5. Hugh Campbell says:

    I just increased from a 13# to 15# and it works much better for me. Because of the increased weight I did have to go to a wrist support or my wrist was bend back.

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