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The Ultimate Guide to Small Bowling Balls

  • Reading time:13 mins read

Bowling is a beloved sport enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. While standard bowling balls typically range from 16 to 16 lbs, there is a growing demand for smaller and lighter options, especially for kids, shorter adults, and those with physical limitations.

Small bowling balls, generally weighing under 16 lbs, offer a unique set of benefits that make the game more accessible, enjoyable, and safer for many bowlers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of small bowling balls, exploring their types, how to choose the right one, techniques for using them effectively, maintenance tips, and much more.

Types of Small Bowling Balls

When it comes to small bowling balls, there are two main categories to consider:

a. Kids’ Bowling Balls

Designed specifically for young bowlers, kids’ bowling balls are lightweight and often feature fun, colorful designs that appeal to children. These balls typically range in weight from 6 to 10 lbs and come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different age groups and hand sizes.

Some key features of kids’ bowling balls include:

  • Beginner-friendly weights and sizes: Lightweight and smaller balls are easier for children to handle, reducing the risk of injury and promoting proper technique development.
  • Fun designs and colors: From vibrant patterns and cartoon characters to fluorescent hues, kids’ bowling balls aim to capture their imagination and make the game more engaging.
  • Durable construction: Made from durable materials like polyester or plastic, these balls can withstand the occasional drops and bumps that come with young bowlers.

b. Lightweight Bowling Balls for Adults

While not specifically designed for children, lightweight bowling balls ranging from 10 to 14 lbs offer a great option for shorter adults, seniors, or those recovering from injuries.

These balls strike a balance between performance and control, allowing bowlers to generate more revolutions per minute (RPM) while reducing the strain on their bodies.

Popular materials for lightweight adult bowling balls include:

  • Polyester: An affordable and versatile option, polyester bowling balls are known for their predictable motion and durability.
  • Urethane: Offering more traction and backend reaction, urethane balls are a popular choice for experienced bowlers seeking more control and higher scoring potential.
  • Reactive Resin: These high-performance balls are designed to hook more aggressively and create more friction on the lanes, making them a favorite among more advanced bowlers.

Choosing the Right Small Bowling Ball

With so many options available, selecting the perfect small bowling ball can be a daunting task. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

a. Considerations

  • Weight: The ball’s weight should be comfortable for the bowler to swing and control. As a general guideline, kids’ balls range from 6 to 10 lbs, while lightweight adult balls fall between 10 and 14 lbs.
  • Hand size: Proper fit is crucial for developing a consistent release and avoiding injury. Smaller hands may require a smaller ball with a more compact grip.
  • Skill level: Beginner bowlers may benefit from a basic polyester or plastic ball, while more experienced players might prefer the added performance of reactive resin or urethane balls.
  • Bowling style: Those with a straighter, smoother delivery (strokers) may prefer a more controlled ball, while those with a higher rev rate and more aggressive style (crankers) may opt for a ball with more backend reaction.

b. Measuring for the Perfect Fit

To ensure a comfortable and optimal fit, it’s essential to measure your hand size accurately. Here’s a simple process:

  1. Spread your hand flat on a smooth surface, fingers together.
  2. Use a flexible tape measure or string to measure the distance from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger.
  3. Consult sizing charts provided by bowling ball manufacturers to find the recommended ball size for your hand measurement.

c. Top Brands and Models

When it comes to small bowling balls, several reputable brands stand out, including:

  • Storm Bowling: Known for their high-performance balls, Storm offers a range of lightweight options like the Storm Mix and Storm Mix Urethane.
  • Ebonite: With a focus on affordable quality, Ebonite’s Maxim and Maxim Captain lines are popular choices for small bowling balls.
  • Brunswick: A trusted name in bowling, Brunswick’s Rhino and Twist lines cater to both kids and adults seeking lightweight options.
  • Hammer: Renowned for their aggressive bowling ball designs, Hammer’s Black Widow line includes lightweight options like the Black Widow Pink Bowling Ball.

Techniques and Tips for Using Small Bowling Balls

While the fundamental techniques of bowling remain the same, using a small bowling ball requires some adjustments to maximize control and accuracy. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

a. Proper Grip and Release

With a smaller ball, it’s important to develop a comfortable and consistent grip. For most bowlers, a conventional grip (with the thumb and two fingers inserted into the holes) works best. Experiment with different grip pressures and release techniques to find what feels most natural and produces the desired ball motion.

b. Adjusting Your Approach and Swing

When using a lighter ball, you may need to adjust your approach and swing to maintain proper timing and leverage. A slower, more controlled approach can help you stay balanced and generate the necessary revolutions.

Additionally, a shorter swing or pendulum-style swing may be more suitable for smaller balls, as it reduces the risk of overswinging and losing control.

c. Developing Spin and Rev Rate

One of the advantages of small bowling balls is their potential for higher rev rates (the number of revolutions the ball makes during its journey down the lane).

To maximize spin, focus on a smooth, yet firm release, and experiment with different hand positions and wrist angles. Increased spin can lead to more backend hook and pin-carrying potential.

d. Lane Conditions and Ball Reaction

The way a bowling ball reacts on the lane can vary depending on factors like oil patterns, lane surface, and ball coverstock. With a small ball, you may need to make adjustments to your line and ball speed to compensate for different lane conditions. Pay attention to how your ball transitions from the oil to the dry part of the lane, and make necessary adjustments to your release or target line.

Drilling and Maintenance

Proper drilling and maintenance are essential for ensuring your small bowling ball performs at its best and lasts for many games to come.

a. Getting Your Ball Drilled by a Pro

While some experienced bowlers may choose to drill their own balls, it’s generally recommended to have your small bowling ball drilled by a professional at a reputable pro shop. Experienced drillers can ensure a proper fit, optimal weight distribution, and efficient drilling layout to maximize the ball’s performance and your comfort.

b. DIY Drilling Tips (if applicable)

If you choose to drill your own small bowling ball, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully. Invest in high-quality drilling equipment, measure and mark your layouts precisely, and take your time to avoid costly mistakes.

c. Cleaning and Resurfacing Small Bowling Balls

Regular cleaning is crucial for maintaining your ball’s reaction and extending its lifespan. Use a USBC-approved bowling ball cleaner and a soft cloth or ball cleaning machine to remove dirt, oil, and lane conditioner buildup.

Additionally, resurfacing your ball periodically (using a ball resurfacing machine or professional service) can restore its original traction and performance.

d. Storage and Transportation

Proper storage and transportation can protect your small bowling ball from damage and prolong its lifespan. Invest in a high-quality ball case or bag with individual ball compartments and adequate padding. When transporting your ball, avoid extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, which can affect the ball’s coverstock and performance.

Benefits of Small Bowling Balls

While small bowling balls may seem like a niche product, they offer a range of benefits that make them an appealing choice for many bowlers.

a. Injury Prevention

One of the primary advantages of small bowling balls is their reduced weight, which can significantly lower the risk of injury, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions or physical limitations. Lighter balls place less strain on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints, making the sport more accessible and enjoyable for a wider range of bowlers.

b. Improved Control and Accuracy

Smaller, lighter balls are often easier to control and release consistently, leading to improved accuracy and shot-making ability. This can be especially beneficial for beginner bowlers, as it helps them develop proper technique and form without the added strain of a heavier ball.

c. Building Fundamentals for Young Bowlers

For kids and youth bowlers, starting with a small bowling ball is essential for learning the correct mechanics and developing a strong foundation. As they grow and their strength increases, they can gradually transition to heavier balls, carrying over the fundamentals they’ve learned while reducing the risk of injury during their formative years.

d. Accommodating Physical Limitations

Small bowling balls aren’t just for kids – they can also be a game-changer for bowlers with physical limitations, such as seniors, those recovering from injuries, or individuals with disabilities or conditions that affect their strength or mobility. Lightweight balls allow these bowlers to continue enjoying the sport they love without compromising their health or safety.

Where to Buy Small Bowling Balls

Now that you understand the benefits and importance of small bowling balls, you might be wondering where to purchase one. Fortunately, there are several convenient options available:

a. Local Pro Shops

Your local bowling alley’s pro shop is often the best place to start your search for a high-quality small bowling ball. Knowledgeable staff can help you find the perfect ball based on your specific needs, preferences, and skill level. Additionally, pro shops typically offer drilling services to ensure a custom, comfortable fit.

b. Online Retailers

If you prefer the convenience of shopping from home, numerous online retailers specializing in bowling equipment offer a wide range of small bowling balls from top brands. Sites like,, and provide detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and filtering options to help you find the ideal ball.

c. Used/Refurbished Options

For those on a tighter budget, purchasing a used or refurbished small bowling ball can be a cost-effective alternative. Many pro shops and online retailers offer pre-owned balls that have been resurfaced and restored to near-new condition, often at a significant discount compared to brand-new models.


Small bowling balls are a game-changer for bowlers of all ages, skill levels, and physical abilities. Whether you’re introducing a child to the sport, seeking a more controlled and injury-preventative option, or accommodating physical limitations, these lightweight balls offer a unique set of benefits that can enhance your bowling experience.

From fun, kid-friendly designs to high-performance reactive resin options, there’s a small bowling ball out there to suit every bowler’s needs. By understanding the different types, choosing the right fit, mastering proper techniques, and maintaining your ball correctly, you can unlock the full potential of these versatile and accessible bowling balls.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro looking for a new challenge or a beginner eager to embark on your bowling journey, don’t hesitate to explore the world of small bowling balls. With the right ball in hand, you’ll be well on your way to achieving greater control, consistency, and enjoyment on the lanes.

Remember, bowling is a lifetime sport, and small bowling balls can help ensure that you can continue playing and improving for years to come. Embrace the advantages they offer, and let the strikes, spares, and cherished memories roll on!