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
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 bowlers.
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.