Different Features of Bowling Ball Coverstock Explained

Last updated on August 23rd, 2021

The coverstock is a crucial factor that defines a bowling ball’s look and performance. Materials for the bowling ball coverstock significantly affect how the ball would react on the lane. Coverstocks vary in materials, and they are the vital components that affect your preference.

Bowling ball coverstocks are available in materials like polyester, urethane, and reactive resin. Urethane and reactive resin coverstocks have further subdivisions. Different materials impact the on-lane performance through their core features. Also, some coverstock characteristics like hardness and roughness influence the ball’s friction on the bowling lane.

Since such features ultimately decide your winning strategy in the game, it is best to plan a good buy. So, before heading out, go ahead and give this article a read to come to a final thought.

Types of Coverstock

Polyester Coverstock

Polyester or a plastic coverstock is the most common type used. The polyester material is hard, dense, and exceptionally durable. Added to that, the surfaces of these plastic materials are pretty smooth. Therefore, it is common to use polyester balls as spare balls, especially for beginners. 

They cater perfectly to the learning period in bowling. Polyester coverstocks are strong to withstand all the beating that apprentices do with the ball while learning. Plastic balls usually have low hook potential or can’t hook at all. But the path they make on the bowling lane is simply perfect for spare bowling. 

Urethane Coverstock

Urethane bowling balls have the potential of hooking. No wonder it led to the hook revolution. It can undoubtedly hook much more than the hooking capacity of polyester balls. They are best for beginners who wish to learn to hook a ball for the first time. It is because urethane coverstock balls allow for a gradual hook and a slight entry angle. 

Urethane balls call for a broader arcing motion, and they are also more porous than polyester ones. As a result, it builds more friction on the lane and thus, favors a higher hooking capacity. 

Urethane is, however, unable to absorb much oil when compared to other coverstock materials. So, this creates a few problems with slick bowling lanes. They can’t arch much on slippery alleys. These balls generally react very quickly. On the flip side, it can also act as a massive advantage if you are bowling in shorter lanes. We can further subdivide them into urethane pearl and solid categories:

Urethane Pearl Coverstock

Pearl urethane balls can easily stick to the surface of the lane more than solid urethane. It is because the composition includes some mica elements of pearl urethane coverstock materials. 

Its ability to grab the surface of the lane makes it ideal for knocking down the deeper pins. There is uniform energy in the ball throughout the bowling lane. It is best for deeper pins as compared to other balls that are not as perfect for them.

Urethane Solid Coverstock

The solid urethane balls have an immense amount of strength. They hit and knock down the bowling pins with a lot of power. 

In respect of this strength, they can easily hover through high friction areas like burnt surfaces on the lane. Furthermore, the bowler can keep the ball straight on the far sides of the lane as well. Such characteristics can ensure that the ball is in relatively good control even as it ultimately approaches the pocket.

Reactive Coverstock

The name ‘reactive’ comes from the fact that this coverstock material reacts a lot to friction. It responds with the dry condition as well. Although reactive resin bowling balls are a little less durable than urethane and plastic balls, they have high hooking capacity. Thus, they offer excellent pin action besides having a surprisingly good hooking potential. 

Reactive resin is the ideal coverstock for aggressive bowlers. Aspiring and advanced bowlers wish to up their game with fierce and strong shots. Reactive resin bowling balls will serve best for this criterion. In addition, you can explore a broader range of ball motion with them. The fact that differentiates reactive balls from urethane is the combination of some extra additives in their composition. These additives have the power of providing more friction on the bowling lane. 

Naturally, one disadvantage to consider is they are less controllable. Since reactive balls provide a lot of friction, they are tough to tame. In addition, we cannot predict that well because they are pretty sensitive in different areas of the lane. So it would help if you were that swift and advanced for handling a reactive resin ball.

Solid Reactive Coverstock

Solid reactive is the most common type of reactive coverstocks. The solid reactive balls have the largest number of reactive pores on the surface of the coverstock. As a result, these balls can absorb a considerable amount of oil. Thus, it helps in producing a lot of friction when the ball hovers down the bowling lane. 

Players must rub it on a rubbing compound substance so that the tremendous friction gets balanced and manipulated. The balls, thus, have less energy when they roll down the lane. So, it would be best if you were an advanced and experienced bowler for a solid reactive coverstock.

Pearl Reactive Coverstock

The pearl and solid reactive coverstock are the same, except that the former has some additives that decrease the friction. They help the ball to roll down straight into the bowling lane as it approaches the end pocket. The ball, thus, doesn’t hook as aggressively as the solid reactive bowling balls. Pearl is the choice of slow players that ensures the ball goes farther in the lane and gives ample time.

Hybrid Reactive Coverstock

Solid reactive and pearl reactive are combined to produce a hybrid reactive coverstock. Typically, it hooks the ball a bit earlier than the pearl reactive. Further, it lets the ball travel a little more than the solid reactive. These features make it the perfect coverstock for players that want a balanced hook with more control. In addition, they make it very advantageous for bowlers as the ball would break at a controllable time.

Factors Affecting Coverstock Performance

Several factors affect the coverstock performance. If you’re about to buy one, do keep in mind the following circumstances:

Oil Absorption Rate

The oil absorption rate is indirectly related to the friction that the ball produces on the bowling lane. Coverstocks that absorb a lot of oil make the ball too aggressive while rolling down on the lane. So ultimately, a large amount of friction gets produced on the bowling lane. 

The new-age reactive resin coverstock materials are highly porous. It implies droplets of oil absorption into the surface of the coverstock material. On the other hand, if a coverstock material can’t absorb oil, it will create another huge problem. If oil touches the surface of a coverstock that doesn’t absorb it, it will eventually lose the hooking potential. Thus the oil will ultimately be left behind as a lubricant since it is on the ball’s surface.

Surface Roughness

The roughness of the surface of the coverstock is another very crucial factor that immensely impacts the performance. It defines the distances between all the peaks and valleys present on the surface of the ball. There can either be a sanded or a polished surface finish for the bowling ball. However, even this determines the surface roughness. Besides, the chemical composition also impacts the roughness of the surface to a great extent. One point is that greater surface roughness can’t assure you that the bowling ball has more hooking capacity. 

Surface roughness is also indirectly related to the friction produced by the ball. Greater roughness is likely to create more friction between the ball and the bowling lane. So, you can easily judge the ball’s performance during the game if you are aware of the surface roughness of the coverstock.

Surface Hardness

Surface hardness is not as essential a factor as the surface roughness and the oil absorption rate. Nevertheless, bowling balls that are not as hard lead to greater friction between the ball and the lane. The logic behind it is that softballs have a larger footprint when they are on the lane. Thus, surface hardness is also a relatively less critical criterion. But to a minor extent, it also helps assess the bowling ball’s performance on the bowling lane.  

In a Nutshell

Although coverstocks may not seem like a big deal to most, they help you build and strategize for a good game. The unique features of each material broadly distinguish it from all others. Thus, every player can decide on the choice according to his bowling styles and techniques.
If you want your ball to go straight down the bowling lane, polyester coverstock is a good option for you. If you are looking for more hooking capacity, reactive resin coverstocks are the best. They give you the freedom to try a different bowling approach in the game. You can then decide on the category of reactive resins that is perfect for you. Core coverstock characteristics like hardness and roughness will impact your style as well. It is necessary to keep in mind all these factors before prepping for your game.