Coverstock – Part 1

Do you understand what is the coverstock, what types there are, how they can be adjusted, and what reaction those adjustments create?
Let’s start with the basics. I know many experienced bowlers know this part, but for those starting out and looking for some information, this should help you get the basics down. It is important to know this basic stuff, especially once you move up to more than one ball.
I wrote previously about understanding your arsenal and how the balls relate to each other. Even when you have only one ball, it is important to understand why it reacts the way it does and why some nights you can shoot over 200 and some nights you can’t break 170.

What is the coverstock?
This is the surface of the bowling ball, the part that contacts the lanes. The core is the part inside the ball. There are many types of coverstocks. In the “old days”, there was wood, rubber, then plastic/polyester. I’m not going to go into a history lesson so let’s start with plastic.
Plastic has a relatively low surface area and is the hardest surface. It is not very porous and doesn’t absorb oil. What does this mean? The plastic ball simply slides across the surface of the lane. It will hook the least of all available equipment. You will see pros generally using plastic and throwing it straight to shoot at their spares because they throw directly at the pins. It takes the lane condition out of play.
Urethane is next if we go from least hook to most. Urethane is a slightly tacky material that would create more friction on the lanes than plastic allowing it to hook. This hook enabled increasing entry angle, thereby increasing carry. It first came out in the 80s and has recently made a comeback.
Reactive resin is the latest technology and has been around since 1989. The resin is an even tackier material than urethane. This resin is very porous, allowing it to absorb oil, thereby allowing it to “dig in” harder than urethane and hooking more. There are lost of different surfaces available in reactive resin. Some include solid, pearlized, and particle. We’ll talk about those in a little more detail in the next article.

Why is the coverstock so important?
The coverstock accounts for over 70% of the reaction of a bowling ball. Here is the link to the 2008 USBC Ball motion study The top 5 factors that affect bowling ball motion all relate to the coverstock of the ball. This means that depending on the lane conditions, you will have to select your bowling ball carefully. Remember, you may be able to get any bowling ball to the pocket, but the most effective carry will come from the ball that matches up correctly to the lane condition and the area of the lane you are attacking.

If you are a beginner, there’s absolutely no need to worry about the core of the ball just yet. Your local pro will help you with selecting the right equipment to start. If they suggest the most expensive ball on the rack for your first “hook” ball, then run the other way. It will do you no good. But you can certainly be looking at a reactive resin ball for your first “hook” ball. There are so many good bowling balls out there, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to start out with. Take a look at my review of the Columbia Freeze. This is an example of a ball that is very inexpensive, but has great performance. That’s because manufacturers take proven technology for coverstocks and cores from years past and put them in their new lines in the “budget” category. They do this because it cost them nothing for R&D, but you benefit from proven technology.

Go out there and have some fun! You will love how the ball “curves” the first time you get your hands on a performance ball.

In the next article, we’ll discuss how these different coverstocks and coverstock technologies relate to each other in a bit more detail…