Drilling Bowling Balls

Bowling is the perfect sport for anyone to pursue, but it has very strict rules in games that need to be followed by all means, especially regarding bowling balls in usage. Bowling Ball drilling is one of the many debated topics in the rules of USBC. That is what we will be addressing today.

You might be wondering, what is bowling ball drilling, how does it work, and what does it have to do with the legality of a bowling ball; Well, these are the questions that I am here to answer.

In this article, I will talk about bowling ball drilling, cost and time requirements for custom drilling jobs, how to drill a bowling ball at home, and all the rules required for the legality of a bowling ball. So, make sure you read this article till the end.

Drilling Bowling Balls - How to drill a bowling ball

What is Meant by Bowling Ball Drilling?

Bowling balls are designed virtually the same overall. The only difference is when it comes to the bowling ball gripping holes. Every custom layout is slightly different according to the pattern requirement of the bowler.

Although it is unnecessary to drill bowling balls, it is mainly preferred because of how amazing the grip on a bowling ball and its control becomes once you insert your fingers into it.

The typical number of bowling ball gripping holes is 3. However, people even use 2,4,5, or no bowling ball gripping holes. It all depends upon the style of bowling and what kind of movement pattern they utilize to get the bowling ball rolling, so your bowling ball gripping holes may be different from anyone else’s.

How much does it cost to drill a bowling ball?

Using a house ball in a casual bowling center can get old very quickly. However, if you are learning and have enhanced your bowling skill, then the house ball’s generic design will only hold you back.

So, if you are thinking of taking this casual bowling activity to the next level, I suggest getting a custom ball drilled by pro bowling shops according to your fingers, placement, and requirements.

Typically, a bowling shop can take around $50-60 for a custom bowling ball drilling job. They will measure your finger requirements and drill you the perfect gripping holes that will enhance your skills and help you succeed in bowling.

How Long Does it Take to Drill a Bowling Ball?

If you are doing it yourself, drilling a bowling ball precisely can take a lot longer than usual, sometimes even days. But that is not the case with professional bowling shop workers. As you are not experienced, they will take your measurements and then get your ball drilled and ready in around an hour, but it might even take approximately 40 minutes if the measurements are already taken.

Getting a bowling ball drilled is pretty great because you can maneuver the bowling ball better as a beginner. However, even professionals get their custom bowling balls drilled according to their sizes because of how good control the process provides a bowler over his ball.

Can I Drill a Bowling Ball at Home?

You might be wondering, can I drill my bowling ball by myself at home; Well, if you have budget constraints and think of DIY drilling at home, it is undoubtedly possible. Here is what you are going to need to do if you want to drill a bowling ball at home:

Gather Tools

The first course of action whenever you are trying a DIY project is to collect all the necessary tools and equipment you will need to use in the project, and that is what we are going to do.

We will need the bowling ball that we want to use with the gripping holes; it can be any type of coverstock. We are going to need a power drill with different tips. We will need a bowling ball holder, a cleaning cloth, polish, markers, and rulers as well. That is about all the things we are going to need for this drilling process.

Choose your grip

Now there are many kinds of grips available in terms of gripping holes. Typically the types depend upon the depth of the finger holes. Let us take a look at some of the most common and majorly used gripping hole types in use as of now.

  • Conventional – In this kind of grip, the drilling holes are deeper so that your fingers and thumb can go inside down to the second knuckle joint, which is better for beginners.
  • Fingertip – The fingertip grip refers to the depth of the drilling holes around a single fingertip deep, which provides increased power and lift but difficult controllability.
  • Semi-Fingertip – The most advanced grip of all is the semi-fingertip grip. In this grip, your fingers and thumb can only go inside down to half of your fingertips. This grip is used by professionals mostly, is difficult to control, but offers more power and force.

Take Measurements

Now it is time for you to take the measurements. We will start by taking the measures of the finger. The diameter and the depth of the knuckles according to which we want to drill our bowling ball.

After that, you are going to measure the span of your fingers and thumb. This is important because this measurement needs to be precise. The precision of this measurement will make sure that your bowling ball finger holes are placed at the correct position and that they are not making your grip on the ball uncomfortable or hurtful.

Mark the Ball

It is now time for you to mark the bowling ball. First, you need to choose the angle at which you will place the finger holes. Make sure the weight on each side is not different.

Take a marker and mark the span and the three-finger holes or more if you choose a different finger hole layout than three fingers. It is perfectly all right either way.

Drill the Holes

Place the marked bowling ball onto the bowling ball holder and then clamp the bowling ball in place so it does not spin or move while it is being drilled because then you are going to need to go to the pro bowling shop.

Take the drilling machine and first make the holes with a sharp and light tip. Then change the tip and make the holes bigger according to the size measurements you have taken. That is all you need to do to drill the bowling ball.

Clean the Bowling Ball

Before you can use the bowling ball, you will have to make sure any dirt, dust, or debris is off the surface and the bowling ball is in perfect shape for usage.

Take a microfiber cloth, clean the bowling ball up and then apply bowling ball polish on it. Let it stay for a few hours, and once it is dried up and shiny, you can test it out by bowling with it.

What makes a bowling ball Illegal?

According to the USBC, there are specific rules that a bowling ball should follow if it is to be considered legal for use in events and contests. If these rules are not obeyed, the bowling ball will be illegal and unusable for any professional bowling event. Let us take a look at the current rules and regulations put forth by the USBC.

Weight Differences

According to USBC, not more than 3 ounces difference in weight should exist between the top and the bottom, left and right, and two sides of the bowling ball whether there are finger and thumb holes on it or it comes without any finger or thumb holes.

Balance Holes

Balance holes or bowling ball holes that are not gripped while the bowling ball is being thrown are considered balance holes, and USBC has declared that these holes will not be legal moving forward in professional events of the game.

Plus Sign

If the bowling ball doesn’t have the thumb hole, it must have a “+” sign marked in the place where the bowling ball thumb hole should be, and the ball must be thrown in the orientation of the plus sign.

Gripping Hole Dimensions

As long as a bowling ball is custom drilled and not a house ball, it should have gripping holes with a diameter not exceeding 1-9/16″ and a depth of 4-1/2″. All the holes in the bowling ball must be gripped except the vent holes that exist on the ball.


Drilling bowling ball gripping holes can be pretty beneficial to your skills and game because of how the holes provide the bowler with additional control over the hook and the swing of the bowling ball. If you are starting with bowling, I would highly recommend getting a personalized bowling ball that has finger holes according to your precise measurements. You will feel comfortable holding and throwing the bowling ball and feel better when you are playing with it. Have a great bowling experience!

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