Plastic Bowling Balls

Plastic (Polyester) Cover Stocks

Ebonite Maxim plastic bowling ball.
An Ebonite Maxim plastic ball. Photo courtesy of Ebonite

Used properly, a plastic bowling ball is a valuable tool in any bowler’s arsenal. The purpose of a plastic cover stock is to repel the oil rather than absorb it, allowing the ball to travel in a straight path to the pins. This is the most common cover stock for recreational bowlers, since most house balls available at bowling centers are plastic.

For experienced and professional bowlers, a plastic ball is mainly used to pick up spares.

The cover stock allows a bowler to throw a straight ball at his leave without much deviation in delivery from his normal hook shot. This is why plastic balls are often referred to as spare balls.

Great for Beginners

Plastic balls are inexpensive. You can often find a selection of pre-drilled plastic balls at any sporting-goods store, although it’s better to buy a ball without holes and have it drilled to fit your hand.

Whether you’re an adult bowler or a youth bowler, buying a plastic ball is a great way to get started in bowling without having to worry about using a beat-up house ball every time you hit the lanes.

Plastic Has Limits

Although a plastic ball is a great low-investment item to get started in bowling, you shouldn’t count on using only plastic for the rest of your life. If you use a plastic ball as your only ball, your scores will eventually plateau. The cover stock simply isn’t designed for throwing consistent strikes.

Since your best chance at a strike comes with an increased entry angle to the pocket, you’ll want to start throwing a hook. Don’t waste your time trying to force a plastic ball to do the job – it will only frustrate you. While it is possible to throw a hook with a plastic ball, it takes far more effort and strain to do so.

If and when you reach this point, you should look into getting a urethane or reactive-resin ball.

Picking Up Spares

If you do upgrade to a reactive-resin ball with more hook potential, don’t throw away your plastic ball – you’ll need it for spares. Because the cover stock repels oil, the ball will travel straight from your release point to the pins. At that point, it’s just a matter of your ability to target and execute. A plastic ball essentially takes the oil out of play, which is why almost every pro, semi-pro, or even moderately serious league bowler has a plastic ball in the bag.

Differences Between Plastic Balls

Like any cover stock, there are differences from one plastic ball to another. However, those differences are far less noticeable than with another cover stock like reactive resin.

The more experience you have, the more you might notice a difference from one plastic ball to the next. If you're just getting started in the sport, all plastic balls will be very similar, and you might want to make your choice based on a manufacturer you trust or merely on looks.

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Your Citation
Goodger, Jef. "Plastic Bowling Balls." ThoughtCo, Nov. 5, 2015, thoughtco.com/plastic-bowling-balls-420719. Goodger, Jef. (2015, November 5). Plastic Bowling Balls. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/plastic-bowling-balls-420719 Goodger, Jef. "Plastic Bowling Balls." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/plastic-bowling-balls-420719 (accessed November 20, 2017).