Bowling ball technology continues to advance rapidly. Who knew that the solid wooden balls of lore would evolve into the dynamic marvels of technology available today?
With all that advanced science going into our favorite sport, there has to be a ball that hooks pretty well, right?
The truth is that once you graduate past the solid plastic balls offered at most bowling centers, you will be hard-pressed to find a bowling ball that does not hook.
Which one hooks the best? Well, that depends on a few things.
The Straight Answer About Hooks
We’re about to explore which bowling balls hook the most, but here’s the thing. Just because a ball hooks more than another ball doesn’t make it the best balling ball for your hook.
If the answer to finding a perfect hook shot was available today, we wouldn’t get very excited about perfect games.
You would think that by now, we would have some type of laser-guided, motion detected, and probability-formulae-aided method to predict where a ball will go.
In fact we do. It’s called Wii Bowling. By sensing where your hand moves, it predicts where the ball will go.
That’s Awesome! Let’s Use It!
What Wii Bowling shows us, though, is that no two people have exactly the same release point, directional control, strength and other factors that it uses to direct its virtual bowling ball.
That is why one bowling ball can’t be the perfect hooking ball for every bowler in the world.
The perfect ball for you may not work well for me. I know my ball does not work for my wife and her ball is radically different than my daughter’s.
Yet we each have a pretty good hook.
But That’s Not All!
If the human factor was not difficult enough, there are also alley conditions to talk about.
Bowling centers, leagues, and associations use different patterns and quantities of oil on their bowling lanes.
The amount and pattern of oil changes the amount of hook potential any ball will have. A ball that does well in heavy oil might hook into the next lane at a dry alley.
If you use the same ball in dry, moderate, or slick conditions, it will react differently to each situation. The same amount of oil applied with a different pattern will also affect the ball’s movement.
The perfect form, mark, and hook that reward you with regular 200+ scores at your local bowling center will leave you struggling to hit three figures at a professional, heavier-oiled, lane.
So Why Am I reading This Article?
There is information you should be armed with when you go in search of your best bowling ball for hooks.
Predictable factors and solid advice will help you figure out where to start. At the end of the article, we’ll highlight some particular balls that work in certain conditions.
When we are done, you will realize why professional bowlers have an arsenal of different bowling balls at their disposal.
If your bowling is limited to one or two locations, the center manager or Pro Shop proprietor can help verify where their lane patterns and your game style fit into what we teach you.
It’s not ALL About You, But…
You are the biggest factor in what kind of ball will hook best for you.
What is the level of your game? If you are a relative beginner, how you bowl is likely not as important a question as is, how do you want to bowl?
Do you have a natural hooking motion... or do you have to really think and concentrate on your release? Are you looking for a ball that hooks more...or just better?
How hard do you throw your ball down the alley? Have you found your ideal ball weight or are you still experimenting? What type of ball have you used before?
Many of these answers will combine with alley and ball factors to help your decision.
For Instance,,,There’s the Ball Coverstock Factor
The ball’s coverstock is the outermost layer of a bowling ball. In other words, it is what you feel and more importantly, what makes contact with the alley finish.
Serious discussions about best hooking bowling balls begin and end with reactive resin (or just “resin”) bowling balls.
Resin balls grip the alley better, allowing them to manage heavy oil and grab the lane’s dry back end quickly, before swinging itself into the perfect strike slot.
Combined with specialize ball cores, these balls in the right hands look they are being sucked into the 1-3 hole.
Don’t Try That at Home!
Of course, those are the hands of trained professionals...or at least, some experienced bowlers.
What if you are a newer member of the bowling brother and sisterhood and have never used anything but house or plastic bowling balls so far?
Resin balls may prove too much to handle. So just for you folks, we are going to mention the mid-range (also called entry-level) coverstock for bowling balls: Urethane.
In the hands of a novice or near-novice, a good Urethane ball will seem like a hooking machine. Its coverstock grips the alley much better than polyester balls.
Also, if you only bowl at recreational centers, the alleys are likely oiled to a dry-to-moderate condition. A Urethane ball may be all you need to develop a very effective hook on those alleys.
Then There’s the Ball Core Factor
Before we go back to the resin coverstock, let’s mention ball cores.
Bowling has strict parameters regarding how balanced a bowling ball has to be. However, there is enough permitted variation to let the leading bowling engineers and scientists to experiment with asymmetrical ball weights.
Your bowling ball actually has parts. There is something (the core) inside affecting its spin, which is also a factor in hooking.
When you think about it, this makes sense because something has to rebalance the ball after you drill three or four holes in one side.
Pancakes? What a Brilliant Idea!
The simplest weights (or increased density areas) are flat and circular and are called pancakes. A pancake core is likely to be more symmetrical. It is also easier to drill.
That wasn’t good enough for other engineers. They came up with a bright idea of another way to balance the weight. Appropriately, they shaped it like a lightbulb.
There are actually several other, more complicated, designs out there with two or three pieces rebalancing the ball. The goal of each would seem to be to balance the ball perfectly.
Just a Drill!
But what if you drill the ball in such a way that the removed pieces of ball are not exactly where they need to be to provide perfect balance?
Then you are probably a very experienced bowler, someone who loves physics, or have a pro-shop employee who is terrible at drilling bowling balls.
It is a fact that the same exact ball drilled in different spots will react differently when rolled down the alley. Most will hook hard, but not always when you want them to.
Fortunately, there are some standard, manufacturer-recommended deviations that are fairly predictable for you to consider.
Three Resins to Buy the Best Ball
Symmetrical or asymmetrical; heavy or normal oil; natural or forced hooking release...reactive resin coverstocks provide the most potential hook.
Although manufacturers say that each ball is unique, there are three basic types of resin finishes: solid, pearl, and hybrid.
Solid resin balls provide the most friction, busting through heavy oil early before emerging into the drier back end. Because it grips the lane even in the oil, it starts to hook sooner than the other resins.
This allows some bowlers in heavy oil to look like they throw more of an arc than a hook as the motion starts earlier, but slower.
Pearl balls add Mica to the resin. This allows it to skip through the oil and creates a more dramatic back-end motion potential in drier lanes.
The Hybrid is a happy medium between the two. There are also particle balls that use various other substances with results similar to the pearl balls.
With any of these, it is impossible to not throw a hook. The question is what degree and how early, based largely on the combination of coverstock and oil pattern.
Many pros carry each ball, starting with the solid resin and keeping the others handy in case the oil breaks down as the day goes on.
So now you know…
As with almost every topic in bowling, no one “knows” anything except what he or she experiences themselves with their own equipment.
Fortunately, that never stops us from talking about each topic for hours and hours.
We are going to cite some great bowling balls for slightly different conditions. A quick Google search of these balls will uncover similar options with varying price ranges.
Consider the factors above and see which ball might be best for your situation.
Pyramid: Divergent Path Bowling Ball
Solid Resin, dual-density, asymmetric core, with 1000-grit abralon finish
For heavy oil conditions
Extremely aggressive ball. This ball will hook whether you want it to or not.
Pearl Resin with Gas-Mask Core, 1500-grit polish finish.
Glides through the early oil and is extremely aggressive on the back end.
Recent addition to the USA market after phenomenal international response
Hammer: Gauntlet Bowling Ball
Semtex hybrid coverstock with 500/2000 Abralon finish and asymmetrical core
For heavy oil, this will start hooking very early.
Ebonite Cyclone Series (Urethane)
GB-10 Urethane Coverstock is a great step-up ball from polyester
Added hook ability, but not too much for beginners to master.
Strictly a consideration for beginners stepping up from polyester.
Welcome to the Club
So now that you are ready to search for the best bowling ball for a hook, you will soon join the discussion of what is best, worst, and awesome.
We hope our information helped you get a jump on the less-informed among us. We look forward to finding you hooking in an alley real soon.
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