How The Core Type Of Bowling Balls Affects Performance

Pro bowlers know how a sturdy bowling ball core can affect performance. You may argue that the coverstock is often the most crucial factor to consider when purchasing a new bowling ball. But you still cannot ignore that the core type is equally essential to watch out for! 

In this run-down, we will talk about various core types you will likely come across while looking for a new bowling ball. The bowling ball core type influences how the ball gains momentum as it leaves your fingers and rolls down the lane to the pins. Like most facets of selecting a bowling ball, the final pick of the core type depends on your playing style and skill level.

Let us dive a bit deeper into the “core” (pun intended) and see what it’s all about.

The Mighty Core

The bowling industry is constantly evolving, bringing in more advancements. However, the core inside the bowling ball is one variable that is now rather old yet misunderstood by many bowlers. Bowling balls used to be relatively simple in design, with a simple puck-type core at the top of the ball and oil-resistant cover stock. 

Bowling ball core technology has evolved to be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. However, both are highly crucial in today’s game. Also, they both have a role to play in particular lane conditions and transition phases.

The majority of casual bowling watchers believe that bowling balls are just uniform spheres. This notion was close to being correct for most of the game’s history. However, in recent years, nothing could be further from the truth.

Types of Cores in a Bowling Ball

Bowling ball cores are available in a wide range of varieties, shapes, and sizes nowadays. For the record, we will segregate cores into three categories for this discussion. 

The low-performance pancake-type core, the symmetrical core, and the asymmetrical core are the three main types. That’s all that we need to know.

1. Symmetrical Cores

It was the first significant innovation in core variation, as manufacturers tested different types of symmetrical shapes to maintain a consistent weight. 

Influencing the overall performance of the ball was a primary reason as well. The lightbulb core, like the name suggests, does resemble a lightbulb. It is perhaps the most popular symmetrical core type.

The definitions might get a little technical. But here is the main difference, followed by the more critical piece, a discussion of why it matters.

The radius of gyration of the Z (intermediate RG and the  Y (high RG)) axes do not vary by more than 5% of the total differential of a symmetrical core bowling ball.

In contrast, the RG values of the Y (high RG) and Z (middle RG) axis of the ball can differ by greater than 5% of the total differential of the ball in asymmetrical core bowling balls. 

Radius of Gyration

The RG or radius of gyration is a measurement (in inches) of the distance from the rotation axis. It is also the point where there might be a concentration of total body mass without affecting its moment of inertia.

A ball with a small radius of gyration (RG) will spur on more quickly and readily. As a  result, the ball’s motion and direction change. The difference in RG as measured influences the ball’s track flare potential to use another commonly used word. 

If you want to practice for more backend power or overall power on a smooth roll, opt for these drills.  

2. Asymmetrical Cores

These cores are the result of an effort to improve and change the performance of symmetrical cores. To create a higher or lower gyration radius, many makers use non-symmetrical designs. 

Those designs include a semi-circular ridged cylinder with the ridges along the more extended portion. The concept is that the design affects how the ball spins as it comes into contact with the lane. However, it is a more complicated way based on some actual mathematical calculations.

One of the disadvantages of using these sorts of cores is that you run the danger of drilling into them when making the finger holes. As a result, standard finger hole layouts can have a distinct effect on the ball. It also needs some additional effort to compensate once you begin playing.

3. Pancake Cores

Pancake Cores is the only core type that you might describe as traditional. It has a small disc that sits on one portion of the ball. The counteraction is the loss of overall mass caused by drilling holes in the ball. 

It does appear like a pancake or a round puck. However, pancake weights are still used on many bowling balls today. It is because they give a very consistent and stable momentum under normal lane circumstances.

A pancake weight core is a more brilliant choice if you look for a simple bowling ball that does not require any particular considerations. 

On the other hand, other core kinds are also worth investigating if you want something to produce higher performance and provide you with more alternatives.  

The Geometry of the Core

Bowling ball cores are available in various shapes, from the most basic to the most complicated. Therefore, when iterating on core forms throughout the design process of a bowling ball, a bowling ball designer must balance several considerations. The following are some of these elements:

  • Undrilled Mass Attributes: When building a core, designers frequently have the desired set of undrilled mass properties in mind. The low RG, total differential, and intermediate differential are the mass properties of interest. 

 Of course, the geometry of the core has a significant impact on its mass properties.  

  • As-Drilled Mass Characteristics: The mass properties of the ball are modified when you drill holes into it. When you drill balls, the shape of the core has a significant influence on how much the mass characteristics change.
  • Design for Manufacturability: They should make the core of a bowling ball before forming it into a whole ball. It is critical for the manufacturer to be able to produce balls consistently and with little waste. The designs of cores sometimes include elements that aid in achieving these objectives. 

Marketing Influences

It’s worth mentioning that certain manufacturers advocate for asymmetrical core design alterations to standing out in the marketplace. Manufacturers are increasingly creating cores with intriguing, provocative, or unique designs. It allows them to develop products according to industry trends.

The idea is that these designs do not necessarily improve performance, but they also don’t degrade it for sure. You have to keep in mind that a bowling ball with a striking core design can make a difference to your show.


Are the weight block and the core of a bowling ball the same?

A bowling ball’s core is exquisitely shaped, and hence, the weight is distributed unevenly across the orb. It is why drilling the holes in a single location produces a more substantial (i.e., more hook) reaction.

On the contrary, drilling them in another has a weaker response. A bowler can obtain various reactions depending on the type of core and the direction it points. It can happen while using the same piece of equipment and changing merely the configuration.

How do I locate a bowling ball’s core? 

We are not talking about cracking apart a bowling ball and looking for the core (although if you have an old ball that you do not use any longer, it may be a fun experiment).

The pin conveys a lot of information. The bowling ball core is attached to a machine while creating the remainder of the ball around it. 

Next, the ball (and core) is separated, and the only thing left of the core is the pin that holds it to the machine. This pin is usually a different color than the rest of the ball and is easily identifiable. 

Your ball driller may build the arrangement for the ball using this mark and other markings on the ball.

How can I choose the perfect bowling ball for me?

If you wonder what type of bowling ball to acquire, the answer depends on your abilities and tactics. Different designs of bowling balls meet the needs and talents of various bowlers, so there’s a good chance you will find the ideal fit for your skills. 

You only need to be aware of your playing technique. In this way, you can match it to the many bowling ball designs available. 

Can the bowling ball’s core affect the performance? 

How the ball’s core structure impacts, its performance is a regular source of consternation for bowlers. Of course, the shape of the core affects performance, but only to the degree that the core form impacts the ball’s as-drilled mass attributes. 

Wrapping up

For most bowlers, the mechanics underlying the creation of bowling balls may be rocket science. But after you have learned about the main elements, the chances only get higher of selecting the perfect ball for your needs. 

Good luck on your bowling journey!