Cold Weather Effects On Bowling Balls


Cold Weather Effects On Bowling Balls

For most of us, it’s that time of year again.  All bundled up for the cold weather and ready to take on the next few months.  But there they are, our bowling balls, dealing with the same cold weather and usually just thrown in the trunk for the day & having to suffer from the cold on their own!  But how does the cold affect the performance of our equipment?  Or does it affect it at all?  You may be surprised at how much temperature can change the performance capabilities of your equipment.  Here’s how…

Remember science class in grade school?   When it gets cold, molecules slow down and move closer together.  The colder an object gets, the more it contracts.  Bowling balls are no exception and their performance can be greatly affected by the cold.  Relatively speaking, the covers of bowling balls are, in fact, soft.  The materials used to formulate the coverstocks are not considered “hard” and the covers are full of microscopic pores and textures.  The softer an object is, the more susceptible they are to temperature change.

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) has a rule that states bowling balls cannot be softer than 72 using the Shore durometer, Type D scale at room temperature (68-72 degrees).  The fact that there is a rule restricting the softness of a bowling ball shows that the hardness of a bowling ball affects the ball’s performance potential.  The softer a bowling ball is, the more friction is created on the lane by increasing the ball’s “footprint” on the lane surface, thus, creating more hook potential.  The harder a coverstock of a bowling ball is, the less performance potential the ball has; therefore, there is no restriction on how hard a bowling ball can be.

So back to science class.  When your equipment has been sitting in your car all day in beautiful 40 degree weather, your bowling ball begins to harden and shrink.  When it’s time to bowl, that ice cold ball will actually hook less.  With the shrinking of the coverstock, those microscopic pores close up preventing less oil absorption and the harder bowling ball creates less friction with the lane surface.  Many times the lower hook potential of the ball is perceived as more oil on the lanes.  This generally is not the case.  Depending on how cold your bowling ball gets, sometimes it can take hours for the ball to reach regain room temperature.

Bowling balls are also made up of basically 3 components, in laymen’s terms; they are the coverstock, filler material and the weight block.  All 3 of these components have distinctly different densities.  Again, back to science class, different densities expand and contract at different rates due to temperature.  In a worst case scenario, as your coverstock shrinks in the cold, it presses harder and harder on the filler material and the weight block.  As that pressure increases, sometimes your coverstock will pop open like a hardboiled egg left to boil too long.  This isn’t meant to make you think if you leave your ball in the cold too long that you will open your bag to find your ball cracked wide open.  It’s just to state that this is a possibility.

Obviously, many of us do not have the luxury of keeping our equipment in pristine environments all of the time.  But there are some measures you can take to keep your equipment protected and performing to its potential during the cold months.  If you can, take your equipment into the office the day of league.  When you get home, try to take the time to bring your equipment in the house until it’s time to bowl again.  If you have a long drive, put your equipment in the back seat rather than in the trunk, let the heater help keep your balls at room temperature.

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