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Can Bowling Balls Be Redrilled? Expert Guide for Better Fit and Scores

  • Reading time:8 mins read

Every bowler, whether a seasoned pro or a weekend warrior, wants to unleash their full potential and roll strikes consistently. However, one often overlooked factor that can significantly impact your game is the fit of your bowling ball.

An improperly fitted ball can lead to inconsistent releases, poor accuracy, and even injury over time. This begs the question: can bowling balls be redrilled to improve the fit and performance?

The answer is a resounding yes, and in this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore when, why, and how to redrill your bowling ball for optimal comfort and precision.

When Should You Redrill a Bowling Ball?

There are several scenarios where redrilling your bowling ball can be beneficial:

  1. Change in Hand Size or Span: As we age, lose or gain weight, or engage in hand exercises, our hand size and span (the distance between the thumb and fingers) can change. A ball drilled for your previous hand dimensions may become uncomfortable or difficult to control.
  2. Improper or Uncomfortable Original Drill Layout: Sometimes, the initial drill layout (the positions of the finger and thumb holes) may not be optimal for your release or pitching technique. Redrilling the ball can provide a more comfortable and consistent fit.
  3. Wanting Different Finger or Thumb Hole Positions: As you progress and refine your bowling technique, you may desire different finger or thumb hole positions to accommodate your preferred release or rev rate (the amount of revolutions imparted on the ball).
  4. Change in Pitching Technique or Release: If you’ve made significant changes to your pitching technique or release, redrilling the ball can ensure it fits your new style and maximizes your potential.

Benefits of Redrilling a Bowling Ball

Investing in a redrill can provide several benefits that can elevate your game:

  1. Improved Accuracy and Consistency: A properly fitted ball tailored to your hand size and release promotes better control and consistency, enabling you to hit your intended targets more reliably.
  2. Better Control and Release: With the finger and thumb holes positioned precisely for your hand and pitching technique, you’ll experience improved grip, feel, and overall control during your release.
  3. Increased Comfort While Bowling: A well-fitted ball reduces strain and discomfort in your hand, wrist, and arm, allowing you to bowl longer without fatigue or risk of injury.
  4. Extending the Life of Your Ball: Instead of purchasing a new ball every time your hand changes or you refine your technique, redrilling can breathe new life into your existing equipment, saving you money in the long run.

Things to Consider Before Redrilling

Before proceeding with a redrill, there are a few important factors to consider:

  1. Ball Material: The type of material your ball is made of can impact the redrilling process. Reactive resin balls (particle or composite coverstock) are typically easier to redrill than urethane or plastic balls, which can be more challenging due to their density and potential for cracking.
  2. Ball Construction: The construction of your ball, particularly the core type (pancake or spherical), can influence the optimal layout and drilling process to maintain the ball’s intended reaction characteristics.
  3. Maintaining Optimal Weight Block Dynamics: The weight block (the dense inner core) is crucial for the ball’s motion and reaction on the lane. Experienced ball drillers will ensure the new layout preserves the weight block dynamics for consistent performance.
  4. Number of Previous Redrill Attempts: Bowling balls can only be redrilled a limited number of times before the coverstock becomes too thin or the core is compromised, affecting the ball’s integrity and reaction.

How to Properly Redrill a Bowling Ball

If you’ve decided to pursue a redrill, it’s essential to follow the proper steps to ensure a successful outcome:

  1. Use a Ball Resurfacing Machine: Before redrilling, the ball’s surface should be resurfaced using a specialized machine that removes the existing holes and restores the coverstock to a smooth, even state.
  2. Measure Hand Size and Span: An experienced pro shop operator or certified ball driller will take precise measurements of your hand size, span, and grip preferences to plan the new layout.
  3. Plan the New Layout: Based on your measurements, pitching technique, and desired ball reaction, the driller will create a new layout for the finger and thumb holes. This may involve a conventional grip or a fingertip grip, depending on your preferences and skill level.
  4. Drill New Finger and Thumb Holes: Using state-of-the-art drilling machines, the new holes will be precisely drilled into the ball according to the planned layout.
  5. Check Fit and Make Adjustments: After drilling, you’ll have the opportunity to test the fit and make any necessary adjustments to ensure optimal comfort and control.
  6. Resurface the Ball: Once the fit is perfect, the ball will undergo a final resurfacing process to restore the coverstock’s factory-finish and prepare it for play.

When Should You Buy a New Ball Instead?

While redrilling can extend the life of your bowling ball, there are instances where purchasing a new ball may be the better option:

  1. Too Many Previous Redrill Attempts: If your ball has been redrilled multiple times, the coverstock may become too thin or the core compromised, affecting performance and durability.
  2. Ball is Cracked or Severely Damaged: Cracks, chips, or severe damage to the coverstock or core can render a ball unsuitable for redrilling and potentially unsafe to use.
  3. Wanting Drastically Different Ball Reaction Characteristics: If you desire a significantly different ball reaction (e.g., moving from a solid reactive ball to a particle/composite asymmetric), purchasing a new ball designed for your desired motion may be the best solution.

Tips from the Pros

To gain insight from industry experts, we spoke with John Cunningham, a certified ball driller and pro shop operator with over 20 years of experience:

“Redrilling a bowling ball is an art and a science,” John explains. “It’s not just about drilling new holes; it’s about understanding the bowler’s unique style, hand dimensions, and desired ball motion to create the perfect layout. A skilled driller will take all these factors into account to ensure the redrill maximizes the ball’s performance potential.”

John recommends having your ball redrilled every 2-3 years or sooner if you experience significant changes in your hand size or pitching technique. “Preventative redrilling can save you from developing bad habits or injuries caused by an ill-fitting ball,” he adds.

Regarding maintenance, John advises keeping your ball clean and using a rejuvenator or ball cleaner regularly to preserve the coverstock’s integrity. “Proper care can extend the life of your ball and minimize the need for frequent redrills,” he says.


Redrilling your bowling ball is an essential practice that can significantly improve your comfort, accuracy, and overall performance on the lanes.

Whether you’ve experienced changes in hand size, refined your technique, or simply want a fresh start with a new layout, a professional redrill can breathe new life into your equipment.

However, it’s crucial to entrust this process to a certified pro shop operator or experienced ball driller. Their expertise in measuring, planning, and executing the perfect layout can make all the difference in maximizing your ball’s potential and ensuring a comfortable, consistent fit.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article and seeking professional guidance, you can unlock the full potential of your bowling ball and take your game to new heights.

Remember, a properly fitted and well-maintained ball is the foundation for unleashing your skills and rolling strikes with confidence. So, don’t hesitate to invest in a redrill – your scores and enjoyment of the sport will thank you.