What Are Bowling Balls Made Of? 5 Things You Need To Know

If you consider yourself a bowling enthusiast or wish to become one, a thorough understanding of the game is essential. It is true regardless of whether you are a seasoned professional or a beginner looking for your niche.

Bowling balls are undeniably an essential bowling component, and no bowling would be possible without them.

Bowling balls are typically composed of reactive resin, urethane, hardwood, or rubber. The interior of these bowling balls is from dense plastic or ceramic material, with a weight block in the center.

In this article, we will be taking a closer look at bowling balls’ materials. So stick with us and read it all the way through because it will vastly improve your understanding of bowling balls and their components.

The Components of a Bowling Ball

To understand what composes the structures of bowling balls, it is helpful to first look inside a ball and know its design. The essential components of every bowling ball are the core, the cover stock, and the filler material.

The Core

A weight block can vary in size and shape, but it is the ball’s core. Some resemble lightbulbs, others resemble fishing reels, and still, others reach spinning tops. They can be perfectly circular and symmetrical. 

Weightblocks influence performance, including when and how the ball hooks or curves, rotates on the axis, and how fast it can revolve.

The Cover Stock

The part of the ball that is visible to our eyes is called the cover stock. Initially, the cover stock of bowling balls was made of wood and rubber by the early 1900s. But they are now mostly made of resins and urethane, proactive or plastic.

The Filler Material

The filler material is the center of a bowling ball containing a ceramic material in nature or very dense plastic. This filler material can be made up of a blend of glass microbubbles too.

Depending on the materials used, the filler material enables manufacturers to alter the ball’s weight by maintaining the needed size.

The Construction of a Bowling Ball

Bowling balls have two categories in terms of their constructions. These are the three-piece balls or the two-piece balls. Historically, these were precise terms because they represented the number of components that comprised the ball. 

Unfortunately, that is not the case nowadays. For instance, a modern two-piece ball can occasionally even consist of three or more pieces!

A three-piece ball consisted of the core, cover stock, and filler material in earlier days. The two-piece type, on the other hand, only has a core and cover stock.

Fast-forwarding to the present will reveal two-piece balls having undergone significant evolution. Most manufacturers have begun enclosing their weight blocks in spherical outer cores for reasons revolving around cost and flexibility. 

Therefore, most of these modern two-piece balls consist of cover stock, a filler material, a core, as well as a spherical outer core at the very least.

What Bowling Balls Are Made of

Bowling balls’ outer shells are typically from reactive resin, plastic, or urethane. Due to the availability of technologically advanced components, ball manufacturers have perfected the art of making bowling balls. 

The weight block and filler materials are the two main components of these balls. Additionally, there are currently a plethora of diverse cores available for various types of ball reactions. Some cores produce a violent appearance depending on the materials used, while others create a smoother, less aggressive impact.

Let us now take a look at the materials used to make bowling balls.

Plastic or Polyester

Advances in materials science enabled the development of a new generation of bowling balls that are from plastic. 

Polyester or plastic-made bowling balls are now widely used by both competitive and recreational bowlers. To this day, the balls on the rack at almost every bowling alley are mostly always plastic. 

The reason for their widespread use is that they are inexpensive to produce, long-lasting, and ideal for recreational bowlers who aren’t concerned with performance but still want to enjoy the game.

Furthermore, when released on the lanes, these polyester-made bowling balls generate a slight reaction. Competitive bowlers often have multiple bowling balls, one of which is usually a plastic ball. 

During bowling tournaments, however, those are typically kept as spares. One advantage of using a polyester ball is that it eliminates the oil pattern from the equation. That enables you to throw your reserves straight without worrying about skids.


These balls, commonly referred to as urethane, are made of a material that is not the same as solid urethane.

When they first used urethane balls, they proved to be a complete game-changer. When released on the lane, they are known to generate more friction than plastic balls.

This feature also allows the urethane balls to hit pockets with a much greater entry angle than a strike is likely to produce. Urethane balls are now widely used by competitive or professional bowlers for all of these reasons. Aside from that, they are frequently in use as spare balls or strike balls.

When it comes to broken down or dry conditions, urethane can be especially useful as a spare ball. In comparison to other high-end balls, urethane does not collect nearly as much hook either.

Reactive Resin

Many people believe that reactive resin is the best thing that has ever happened to bowling balls. When reactive resins entered the bowling ball scene, they generously provided bowlers with the ability to get high strikes and an incredible amount of hook potential.

The liquid resin incorporates a cover stock substance after being transformed into a hard material by a solidifying process. So when we talk about reactive resin, we don’t mean how the resin reacts when you push the ball down the lane.

Instead, it refers to the reaction process during the manufacturing process as the additives are mixed. As a result, it produces the high-friction and porous surface used to make bowling balls, which everyone has come to prefer these days.

The best thing about balls made of reactive resin is that they can have a quick and aggressive appearance on the outside while remaining relatively smooth to the touch while being spun.

Proactive Particle

The proactive particle is a cover stock material shaped like a snow tire with chains in the ridges. It gives the surface a rough or bumpy feel, allowing it to dig into the lane’s surface.

When it comes to heavily soiled lanes, this helps to create the most friction possible. If you are an advanced or intermediate bowler, you should strive to have a proactive particle bowling ball in your arsenal for effective performance.

What the First Bowling Balls Were Made of

According to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, Sir Flinders Petrie was a British anthropologist who discovered bowling items in an Egyptian grave in the 1930s. According to all the shreds of evidence found, the game dates back to the year 3200. That makes the game as old as writing itself.

These primitive bowling balls were from lignum vitae, a hardwood. Following that, for many years, the bowling balls were made of wood. It was the standard practice until the invention of the rubber ball.

The popularity of rubber balls has skyrocketed since then. Rubber balls dominated the bowling scene for nearly 60 years or more, whether for competitive or recreational purposes.

On the other hand, rubber bowling balls are on the verge of extinction in the modern era. Because of the availability of better and far improved materials today, there are few compelling reasons to continue using them in the twenty-first century.

A Common Misconception about Bowling Balls

There is a widespread misconception that bowling balls are hollow. But that is not the case. In reality, these balls are dense-looking spheres. As a result, many people believe that bowling balls are open on the inside.

Another factor contributing to this misconception is that the finger holes within the balls are pretty deep. As a result, it gives the impression that the entire ball is similarly deep and hollow.

You can, however, get your customized bowling ball based on the weights you specify. It gives a leeway in terms of bowling balls being hollow if you want them to be. But generally, they are substantial inside out.

Final Words

The Ancient Egyptians may have invented a primitive and crude form of the game. But they would undoubtedly be impressed with the significant improvement of present-day bowling balls over that of their stone forefathers. 

Bowling ball materials have come a long way since the initial rubber or hardwood days and their basic composition structures. Even so, they are still evolving to maximize their effects.

Bowling ball manufacturing processes have evolved dramatically over the years, and the two-piece ball having more cost-friendly components is now the preferred method of production.

We hope that this article has helped you learn a great deal about bowling balls materials and that you will want to expand your knowledge further about the game itself. 

Happy bowling!