2020 USBC Rule Changes On Bowling Ball Weight Holes By MDM Bowling Coaching

How Do The Bowling Ball Weight Hole Rules Change Ball Motion

In the beginning of this week, USBC unveiled some rule changes taking effect in the next few years. For our pro tip, I’m going to talk about the change regarding weight holes and share my personal opinions. There are a few other things addressed in their memo, which you can find here: https://bowl.com/News/NewsDetails.aspx?id=23622331019.

Effective August 1st, 2020, the USBC will be changing the rules on static weights and banning weight holes. The goal of this rule change is to limit the impact of the performance of the bowling ball. The purpose of a weight hole is to change the dynamics of the ball’s core. When you put a weight hole in today’s equipment, contrary to what many people believe, it is not to increase or decrease static weights. You can drill two bowling balls exactly the same, except adding a weight hole to one, and they will roll significantly differently down the lane. You can also increase or decrease the hook just by moving the location of the weight hole in the ball.

Why Is USBC Not Allowing Weight Holes In Bowling Balls?

In my opinion, the reason why USBC is no longer allowing weight holes is to help even the playing field. While they are eliminating weight holes, they are increasing the allowable static weights from 1 oz to 3 oz. This increase will allow you to still drill the bowling ball with the center of gravity moved away from the grip to manipulate the weight block without needing to add a weight hole. However, even if you manipulate the core to shift the weight block away from the grip, you’re not removing a part of the ball and changing the core’s dynamics. So while you can change the way the ball rolls with this drilling, these rules limit your ability to change the ball from its intended purpose.

How Does The USBC Rule Change For Weight Holes Change How You Drill Bowling Balls?

Whenever I drill a pin down bowling ball (where the top of the core is below my fingers), I add a weight hole. However, none of my pin up equipment has a weight hole. When the pin is lowered or the VAL (Vertical Axis Line) angle is increased, the flare potential decreases so it doesn’t hook very much. By adding a weight hole down by the thumb quadrant, I find that the ball flares more and rolls better. With the new rule change, I foresee that I’ll drill fewer pin down balls for my own game.

My personal take is that bowling balls today are so strong, with the dynamics of the cores and the strength of the coverstocks, that you do not need a weight hole to achieve a good ball roll. I think this rule is a step in the right direction, but I think there are other things that USBC could still address (like lane conditions). If it were completely up to me, I think a better way of going about this is not to worry about ball dynamics and instead focus on lane conditions to even the playing field, but that’s for another pro tip . If you have equipment with a weight hole now and you still have it by 8/1/2020, you will want to plan on plugging the hole at a local pro shop. That will make it legal for USBC.


20 thoughts on “2020 USBC Rule Changes On Bowling Ball Weight Holes By MDM Bowling Coaching

  1. Ray Larsen says:

    Hey Group, Should have done this 20 years ago?? What sport can you adjust the equipment Baseball, Football, Tennis, ECT No you have to be the BETTER PLAYER, Ya know what this GOING TO CAUSE!@!!!!! READY Practice!!!!! OMG!!!!

  2. Ray Laursen says:

    The reason is two fold, Put a Weight hole in a ball and DONT SAND THE hole and the hole Cracks now bowler want a new BALL FROM THE MANUFACTURER or you take out to much weight the bowlers shoots a Award Game and the Balls ends up not being legal and the Bowler is Mad at the USBC and not the one that made the ball ILLEGEL!!!! End result is not USBC to many balls probably ended up not Legal weight wise and THIS is the ONLY way to make OUR PROBLEM and ( not theirs) GO AWAY!!!!

      • Mark Field says:

        When I shot my first 300, in a local tournament in 1990, we had to wait 2 hours for 2 USBC officials to arrive. I thought they were going to grind my ball down to see what it was made of. They weighed it FIVE TIMES, checked the hardness in about 10 places, and then spent an hour checking the oil pattern. After all that, they wouldn’t say if everything was ok. It was 5 months before I got a letter telling me that my 300 had been certified. Then one night a few months later, as my mixed league was about to begin bowling for the evening, the league secretary calls me out onto the approach and announces to everyone that I’d bowled a 300 and they were presenting me my 300 ring. It was really cool and well worth the wait.

    • D says:

      Putting a wight hole in the side of a ball gives the driller more freedom to make the ball legal, esp if you have a customer that THINKS they know what they want.
      There are set rules on what balls can weigh so if you have a driller making them illegal you have a crappy driller.

    • Pete pastor jr says:

      Ball drilling is a skill the center of gravity dot is relied upon to judge the weight influence after drilling the rules of top weight side weight and thumb weight is what determines if it is legal after drilling drill an extra hole does not change the weith block rules it only serves to get it closer to the limits while at the same time removing total weight going further away from the maximum of 16lbs I dislike the change of changing from 1oz to 3oz or any other changes to the rules

  3. D says:

    “You can drill two bowling balls exactly the same, except adding a weight hole to one, and they will roll significantly differently down the lane.”
    Thats the purpose.
    If I buy a ball and don’t get the exact reaction I wan’t, I can no longer modify it to fit my needs, so I just wasted my money.
    You’re not ‘ help even the playing field ‘ by doing this since everyone has the same option and balls have to be within a set guide line of weights anyways.
    If you really wanted to make a level playing field start by mandating patterns that qualify for honor scores/averages, mandate cover stocks that may as well be made out of chain saw blades, and stop the two handed bowling.
    Yanno, like it was when it was still ABC, when things had value and mattered. When you didn’t have to buy your honor award.
    With everything going wrong with the sport THIS is what you came up with.
    The city is on fire and you want to plant flowers.

  4. Jim Sehr says:

    How many millions of 130 average bowlers will have to spend money pluging their balls.
    It was not my idea to drill the weight hole in my ball. Do you think the guy who drilled the weight hole is going to plug it for free?

  5. Jim Washko says:

    A bowler on my team uses an alley ball which has a thumb hole but he does not use the thumb hole. Is he allowed to do this since all alley balls have a thumb hole? It’s not like the ball has a weight hole.

    • Randy Roberts says:

      Did you get an answer? I read usbc rules and house balls are allowed for no thumb and two handers who do not use a thumb, but they cant use any other ball, even soare balls, if they have a thumb

  6. Mark says:

    In 1980 I was preparing to become a Professional Bowler. I went to the pro shop and asked my driller to drill a 16 pound Colombia Yellow Dot with 2 3/4 ounces of top weight, 3/4 ounces of finger weight and 3/4 ounces of positive side weight. For an experiment he drilled me one. Then he drilled another ball with no finger or side weights. He then drilled what he called a DODO hole (later known as a balance hole) making the weights equal to the first ball. He gave me 2 free games to compare the 2 balls. When I was done I gave him my comparison. I could stand in the same place and use the same target with both balls. Both balls hit the pocket, however the ball with the dodo hole went down the lane about a foot farther then had a sharper angle (hook) into the pocket. I also left less 10 pins with the dodo ball. Many years later almost all of my reactive balls were drilled with balance holes. Unfortunately my driller passed away and my new driller didn’t drill my equipment with balance holes, but I still had great success with them. So, a balance hole can change the dynamic roll of the ball.

  7. Mark says:

    5 months!!!!! I was on the board of 2 Associations, If it took 5 weeks to get the award we’d have an upset bowler on our hands…….3 weeks was about maximum.

    And by the way, I’ve received 2 decline letters.

    • Brian Halstrom says:

      Hi Patricia, thank you for the comment. If your bowling ball currently has a weight hole, it may not be used in sanctioned league play and your scores would be ineligible. In order for the ball to be legal per the new guidelines, you could have your local pro shop operator plug the weight hole in order to abide by the new USBC rules.

  8. Jack says:

    Seems like a way to create more sales for the ball mfrs. All these balls today just increase everybody’s average . The ball’s doing more work than the bowler. I went from a 170 to 215 average, as did my brother and nephew. Only change were these new balls.
    Seems like fake bowling now.

  9. Charlie Johnson says:

    Just wondering if you have a thumb hole, not a weight hole, in your ball but you are a 2 handed bowler and dont use a thumb.

    TL;DR: are they banning all unused holes or just weight holes.

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