Ball Type / Coverstock:
Coverstock is the outter shell
of a ball. Understanding what each one does will help you choose the right ball.
There are four basic types of Coverstocks on the market today: plastic/polyester,
urethane, reactive, and particle. Each uses a different production technology.
Polyester/Plastic: The type of ball that most recreational bowlers will recognize
is the polyester bowling ball, which is commonly referred to as a “plastic” bowling
ball. Polyester bowling balls have been available since the 1960s. They have a
low cost compared to the other types of bowling balls and they are very durable,
which is why they are used as “house” balls on the racks of most bowling centers.
The durability comes from the hard, low friction nature of the polyester cover.
This low friction nature causes the “plastic” ball to skid more and maintain a
straighter trajectory. “Plastic” balls are primarily used by beginning bowlers;
however, many experienced and professional bowlers use them for spare shots and
for very dry lane conditions.
Urethane: In the late 1970s, bowling manufacturers experimented with coverstocks
softer than polyester in order to create more hook potential. The result of these
experiments was a polyurethane coverstock, or urethane for short. Urethane has
a higher friction surface than polyester, so it will hook more. It can be easily
sanded or polished to control its hook potential. Urethane is the preferred coverstock
for beginning hook bowlers. It is also the dry lane choice for many experienced
Reactive Resin: In the early 1990s, ball manufacturer started adding resin
particles to their urethane coverstocks. The resin made the ball tackier than
plain urethane which increased its hook potential. A side effect of the resin
is that it makes the ball hydroplane on the oil more than plain urethane. The
combination of the increased skid on oil and stronger hooking ability on dry boards
gives the resin ball a bigger backend reaction for more striking power than prior
ball types. Reactive resin is the primary coverstock for most experienced bowlers
on most lane conditions.
Particle: Experienced bowlers preferred the smooth reaction and controllability
of urethane, but they could not refuse the power provided by reactive resin balls.
The ball manufacturers response to this situation was to add textured particles
such as ceramics and glass to the resin enhanced polyurethane balls. The added
texture gave the ball more grip in the oil for a smooth, controllable hook style,
while maintaining the powerful backend of reactive resin. The hook potential for
most particle bowling balls is higher than all of the other types of coverstocks.
This extremely high hook potential means that most particle balls are for use
on oily lane conditions only. However, ball makers are constantly tinkering with
the quantity and size of the particles used, so particle balls are becoming more
versatile across many types of lane conditioning.
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