New Rules on Equipment Specs

By Michael Cousins

With the recent USBC changes taking effect in 2020, there are a few things you all need to know to prepare yourself for what is to come. In times like these, education is a must, and I don’t think you can start soon enough.

We’ll start with the big one: no weight holes. I have seen many bowlers take to social media in opposition of this. And I understand why some are, no doubt, but others are opposed for the wrong reasons. For the higher level players that use holes to alter and manipulate ball motion (change differential numbers), it is going to have an effect, no doubt. But, to the casual player — even high level league players — this will pretty much be a non-issue. So don’t worry about that. Business as usual, for you guys/gals.

The other misnomer I have seen has to do with static weights, and their relevancy to ball motion. Understand that static weights haven’t mattered in many, many years. And the fact that the USBC is willing to now acknowledge that and institute rules that give a larger window is a step in the right direction.

I have also heard the frustration regarding bowlers having to plug their current bowling balls. While this is true in part, it will not be much of an issue. You have to remember that the static weight limitations now allow for up to 3oz of side weight. Please understand that virtually any and all bowling balls (regardless of almost any layout) will meet these specifications. So, in essence, all you’ll have to plug is the weight hole. Now, there are going to be, perhaps, some exceptions, but they’ll be very rare, and not worth really going over here. And while I understand the inconvenience, it isn’t much of an issue — at all.

As for the oil absorption rate change, this won’t really affect any of you. Not directly, anyways. This has a far larger impact on the manufacturers. Understand that oil absorption rates have to do with the strength of the cover, so, without naming balls or calling out manufacturers, understand that some of your favorite coverstocks may — under these new guidelines — no longer be “legal.” This would force the manufacturers to tweak existing covers or, perhaps, scrap the cover altogether. So, as I said, it doesn’t pertain to you directly, but, indirectly, you will be slightly impacted, I suppose. But, still, to me, the frustration of this too will pass.

The final big change — and one that I am totally onboard with — has to do with cleaners and when you can use them. We have known about this rule change in at least some capacity for awhile now, and, honestly, even though it was just rumors, we expected it to come sooner rather than later.

Personally, I have never used a cleaner in competition ever. And this is true for many of you. And for those of you who, like me, don’t use cleaners during competition, you won’t be effected at all. To those of you who do, sure, you won’t be able to use them anymore, but that won’t really impact your game or scores anyways, so long as you still wipe your balls off every shot. Like the oil absorption rate rule, this really effects ball cleaner companies — companies that have made their livelihood selling ball cleaners approved for anytime use. They are the ones that will be most impacted by this rule change. In my opinion, cleaning your ball before and after use and wiping your ball off in-between shots will suffice.

Will there be a learning curve? Absolutely. Will there be some bumps in the road? Yes, probably. But, in time, it’ll be fine. As I’ve stated over and over again, this will not effect or impact many of you. To those of you it does, yes, it’s going to take some time to get used to the lack of holes, but, with the added side weight allowances, you will have some new layouts you’ll be able to experiment with that could, potentially, benefit you in a similar way. I personally don’t like the lack of weight holes, but I’ll get over it. It isn’t a major issue, and it isn’t one that I’m going to worry about, at least not anytime soon. Great bowlers will still be great. Balls will still hook. And scores will still come.

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