What Size Bowling Ball Do Pros Use?

If you’re plotting about how to beat your friends on the next visit to the bowling alley, you probably want to go for the ball used by pros. So which bowling ball size do professional bowlers use and why?

Most male professional bowlers use 16-pound bowling balls, the heaviest ball weight legally available. However, a handful of pro bowlers do use 15-pound balls as well. There are very few pro bowlers that use balls lighter than this.

Most pro bowlers go for this bowling ball size because it gives a better chance of getting a strike. Let’s explore the reasons behind this.

What Size Bowling Ball Do Pros Use?

Why do pros prefer a heavier bowling ball?

It’s no secret that professional bowlers prefer a heavier bowling ball in their games, which is usually the 16-pound one. So why exactly is that?

A heavier bowling ball has more mass, and therefore, it generates more momentum and is far more impactful than a lightweight ball. This means it packs more force and strikes the pins harder, increasing the chances of knocking down all ten pins.

Read more on strikes here: A Strike in Bowling – Did you know all this?

Heavier bowling balls, such as the 15 and 16-pound ones, are also easier to hook at the back end. To achieve a bigger and better hook, it is necessary to use a heavy ball. Another reason why heavier balls are preferred by pros is that they deflect less. They do not deviate from their trajectory once rolled and continue on a set path until they strike the pins. 

These are the reasons why most professional bowlers prefer a heavy ball and would even readily upgrade one or two pounds if heavier balls were available. To see pro bowlers in action, check out this video. Remember, though, that the bowling ball sizes preferred by female professional bowlers are different than those used by male pro bowlers.

Which bowling balls do female pro bowlers use?

On average, the majority of female pro bowlers usually choose a 14-pound ball which is a couple of pounds lighter than the heaviest ball preferred by male professional bowlers. A few female pro bowlers also use 13 or 15-pound balls, but they are in the minority. 

In general, female professional bowlers use balls that are heavier than those usually chosen by women, which is the same trend that is seen with male pro bowlers. Most women use a bowling ball that is in the range of 12-14 pounds.

What are the cons of using a heavy ball?

Heavy balls are great for hooking and getting the perfect ten-strike, but they also have their downsides. Many people find that heavy balls are hard to handle because of their weight.

The most common problem you might face with heavier balls, especially if you don’t have much experience with them, is that they can cause wrist strain and even injure your hand. Of course, this depends on your own physical fitness, skill, and practice. You should go for it if you can handle a 16-pound ball easily without straining your muscles.

More to read: Bowling Exercise – Everything you need to know

But if you find that your hand, wrist, or arm hurt after a few throws, then you might want to lay off heavy balls and practice with a lighter one first. It is essential not to go overboard and injure yourself while playing. Remember that you can always upgrade a couple of pounds once your muscles develop with regular practice.

Another reason you might not want to pick up a 16-pound ball is that the heavier balls are much harder to control. This increases the chances of your ball going into the gutter if your shot isn’t perfect. On the other hand, lighter balls are much easier to control and ideal for beginners who want to get the hang of bowling first.

Is a 12 lb bowling ball too light?

This is a subjective question and depends entirely on the person using the ball. For a child, teenager, or senior citizen, a 12 lb ball might be perfect, given that they can use it comfortably. For an adult man who weighs 200 pounds? Not so much, unless he has a physical condition or injury due to which he is unable to use a heavier ball.

If you’re overall fit and can handle a heavy ball, it is better that you go for it. This is because it is easier to get the perfect shot—and a good hook—with a heavier ball. 

Which bowling ball is best for a hook?

Undoubtedly, a heavier ball, at least 14 pounds or above, is best for getting a large hook and ultimately a strike. Heavy balls have less deflection and strike the pins with greater accuracy. This is the main reason why heavier balls are preferred by professional bowlers worldwide.

Read more on hook here: How to Hook a Bowling Ball.

Which bowling ball is best for me?

Choosing the right bowling ball for you can be difficult. You might be tempted to bring out the big guns and go directly for the heaviest house ball available, i.e., the 16-pound one. Still, this weight is not suitable for everyone. 

There are a lot of factors to consider while choosing your ball. Your gender, age, weight, and physical condition all matter. The general rule is that you should go for a ball that is 10% of your total body weight in pounds. This will ensure that you get a good hook without hurting your hand. 

However, suppose you’ve had any recent injury or trauma. In that case, it is best to go for a lighter ball you can handle easily. Make sure that whatever ball you use fits your hand snugly and doesn’t strain your fingers. Comfort is the most important thing any player should consider while choosing the optimal bowling ball.

Read more on the topic here: What Weight Bowling Ball Should I Use?


Nearly all professional bowlers use the heaviest bowling ball they can handle, which on average is 16 lb for men and 14 lb for women, for their games. This is because heavy balls have more significant momentum, deflect less than lighter balls, and enable you to get a better hook.

Want to be a professional bowler? Check out this article: How to Become a Professional Bowler

However, you don’t need to pick up a heavy ball just because the pros use it. Go for the ball you feel most comfortable with, and upgrade when you’ve got some practice!

Check out the latest posts