14lb or 15lb Best Bowling Ball Weight

The History of bowling ball weights: 

16 lb ball in the Rubber/Urethane Era

In a game where balls didn’t hook much, the weight of the ball you could throw was King. At first, there was no regulation on the maximum weight you could throw. But eventually, the powers that be capped bowling ball weight at 16 pounds. Thank goodness they did. I remember being a scrawny high schooler. I would ruin my hands trying to keep up by throwing the 16-pound ball. 

15 lb ball in the Reactive Resin Era:

A defining point in bowling balls came when someone accidentally developed a new compound. The urethane base they were using had accidentally been mis-stored in a warehouse. The balls made with these materials hooked like nothing else had in the past. They skidded more on oil than the traditional urethane. On the other hand, once they hit the dry boards, they took off. This gave the bowler an unearthly amount of power at the time.

Because of this additional power, it was found that 16 lb balls would tend to deaden the potential movement of a ball compared to using a lighter ball. Many pros began their migration down to 15 lbs without losing any power and gaining some performance in terms of pin action.

14 lb balls

While it’s not yet definitive that 14-pound balls can at least hit as hard as 15-lb balls, some professional bowlers are starting to experiment with it. I think part of it is trying to stay relevant with older bodies broken down by bowling.

My experiment

Bowling was starting to take a toll on my shoulder. I have been using 15lb balls for the last couple of years, also down from, my original  16lb. I decided to go down to 14lb as an experiment. I would consider this successful if I could get the same amount of carry and speed as with 15 lb.

When I switched at the beginning of the year, my equipment was all Storm. For this experiment, there was a Black Widow Hybrid that just was coming out from Hammer. I decided to put together a minimal viable arsenal with the Hammer line of balls. 

I scraped together enough for four balls. I put a newer layout. I put in 1” reverse like Belmonte has to keep myself from hitting up on the ball. I picked balls I didn’t have equivalents to in the storm line. Here is my arsenal:

  • Hammer Axe Spare Ball
  • Hammer Raw Hybrid
  • Hammer Purple Urethane
  • Hammer Black Widow Hybrid

This was a much weaker arsenal of balls than I have had in the past. With my storm balls, I usually had a collection of stronger balls that I never took out of my bag. All the balls reacted about the same amount because of the way I threw them. I tend to throw on the slow side with high axis rotation and maximum revs, making all the balls want to go into the left gutter.



It’s nice that I do notice it is easier to carry around 2-3 balls in a tote or rolling bag. I also get some protection from going over the weight capacity of bringing three bowling balls on a plane. I notice my shoulder isn’t as pinched or tight after a marathon night of bowling. 


Throwing this lighter ball isn’t a magic wand. You can’t instantly throw harder and faster just because the weight is lower. There is some learning curve since you have to apply force in slightly different parts of your swing etc. But I am confident that I can throw it at the very least at the same speed as I can throw 15 pounds. 


I get the same amount of revolutions as I did with the 15 lb ball throwing 14. 

Pin Carry/Reaction

There is some danger that if I don’t throw the ball fast enough, my Pin reaction will be trash. Things that would have carried with a 15 lb ball have a much lesser reaction when misthrowing the 15 lb. 


14 lbs is a good option to throw versus a 15 lb bowling ball. It’s not a magic bullet but can be learned in a few sessions of practice. There is a big penalty if you throw with an inconsistent or slower speed. 

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