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USBC sets new specifications for bowling balls this April
2018. The following is from the Ball Motion Study Conclusion
ARLINGTON, Texas – Following
three years of research on how technology has affected the sport of bowling, the
United States Bowling Congress Equipment and Specifications Committee has
established new specifications designed to sustain the playing field both
currently and in the future.
The new specifications, which will be implemented over the course of the next
two seasons, were announced at the USBC Convention in Reno, Nevada.
“Technology impacts every sport, but it is our role as the National Governing
Body to ensure the skill of the competitors on the lanes remains the deciding
factor,” said Andrew Cain, chair of the USBC Equipment and Specifications
Committee. “The research presented revealed the impact technology has made on
the sport’s playing environment and the committee determined there was a need to
enact these specifications.”
A new specification has been established for the oil absorption rate of bowling
ball coverstocks, the first time such a specification has been set, and a
specification to eliminate balance holes while increasing static weight
allowances also has been approved.
In addition, new rules will be put into place to allow only a dry towel to be
used to clean bowling balls during competition and to keep bowlers from changing
the static weight (i.e. drilling grip holes deeper) of bowling balls during
“The diligent work of the USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications team
spurred discussions in several areas and the committee made decisions that are
needed to protect our sport’s future,” USBC President Frank Wilkinson said.
“Technology will continue to push the boundaries and we will continue to analyze
every aspect to make certain we are doing what’s in the best interests of
bowling and our members.”
The new oil absorption specification for bowling ball coverstocks will require
that for a new ball to be approved, submitted ball samples cannot have a rate of
oil absorption under 2 minutes and 15 seconds (2:15), and must adhere to the
0.6% non-conformance rate.
The initial step on the oil absorption specification will begin Aug. 1, 2018,
when bowling ball manufacturers are required to submit oil absorption data as
part of the USBC bowling ball approval process. Manufacturers have been provided
a standard operating procedure (SOP) to determine oil absorption rates.
The specification requiring a bowling ball’s oil absorption rate to be more than
2:15 for the ball to be approved will take effect Aug. 1, 2020. Also, any ball
models tested where the average oil absorption rate is under nine minutes and 30
seconds (9:30) will require additional balls to be tested.
The specification eliminating the use of balance holes will go into effect Aug.
1, 2020. Balance holes, also known as weight holes, are meant to correct static
imbalance in bowling balls, but more recently have been used to change the
design intent of balls. By allowing bowling balls (for balls weighing more than
10 pounds) to have up to three ounces of static side, thumb and finger weight –
which is up from one ounce – and up to three ounces of top weight, there no
longer will be the need for a balance hole to correct static imbalance in the
typical ball layout.
The specification increases in static weights take effect Jan. 1, 2020, which
will allow bowlers the opportunity to plug balance holes prior to the
elimination of balance holes starting Aug. 1, 2020.
With the elimination of balance holes, bowlers may have up to five holes for
gripping purposes and all gripping holes must be used on every delivery.
The change allowing only a dry towel to clean bowling balls during competition
becomes effective Aug. 1, 2019. It eliminates the use of liquid cleaners of any
kind during competition, which aligns with other changes to ensure equipment is
not manipulated during competition. The change prohibiting a bowler from
adjusting static weight during a competition by drilling grip holes deeper goes
into effect Aug. 1, 2020.
It is important for bowlers to understand the specification for oil absorption
will not eliminate any bowling balls from competition, as all current balls will
be grandfathered in. Bowlers also should be aware that because the increase in
static weights starts Jan. 1, 2020, they will have seven months to have any
balance hole plugged so they will be in compliance when the specification
eliminating balance holes starts Aug. 1, 2020.
The Equipment and Specifications Committee has delegated authority from the USBC
Board to make changes to equipment specifications. The USBC Board fully supports
the direction and action taken by the Equipment Specifications Committee.
USBC will conduct a media-only teleconference on Tuesday, April, 24 at 8 p.m.
(Eastern) with Equipment Specifications Committee members and USBC staff. To
participate in the conference call, media members can email firstname.lastname@example.org with
their name and affiliation for call-in instructions.
Visit BOWL.com/EquipAndSpecs for
USBC’s research and more about the specification changes.