How Does A Bowling Ball React In The Cold?


The weather and temperatures of the city where you live can be bad for your bowling ball. When bowling balls are stored in places where the temperatures drop considerably, the cold could damage them to a point where they become unusable.

A bowling ball in cold weather can freeze, making it very heavy. They run differently down the lane and will spoil your game. Not to mention that a frozen bowling ball will have to thaw slowly and may not be as good as it was before.

In very cold climates, it is pretty common to find frozen bowling balls left in garages or forgotten in car trunks.

What Is The Relationship Between Extreme Temperatures And Bowling Balls?

Why is it that extreme temperatures affect bowling balls? This is a must-ask question for anyone who owns a bowling ball and lives in an area with extreme weather conditions.

First off we need to know a little about how bowling balls are made. The center of the ball or core is where the heaviest materials that make up the ball are located. The core is usually made with a mold where the materials are poured into and allowed to harden. 

Later on, the finished core is placed inside a larger mold called the coverstock mold where the coverstock material is poured and allowed to harden. Depending on the design of the ball the thickness of the coverstock can vary between 1-2 inches.

These different materials enable the bowling ball to support all the blows it receives without breaking but it also means that both the center of the ball and the outer material that covers it may enlarge or shrink. Depending on the temperature and location of the bowling ball. 

The outer part and the inner part of the ball will change size but each will do so at different speeds in the cold. This explains well why bowling balls can be affected by temperature extremes.

Can A Bowling Ball Crack Or Break In The Cold?

The answer is yes. It can break or crack when it is very cold. This happens due to the change in the size of the bowling ball parts due to the cold weather. The outer and inner part of the ball change their size, and a struggle of forces is created between the two until the ball ends up breaking.

It is common to see the ball crack or break at the finger holes because that is the most delicate area of the bowling ball and the most used when playing. Another place where you might see cracks or breaks is towards the middle, so don’t be surprised if your ball ends up splitting into two halves.

How Cold Is Too Cold For A Bowling Ball?

Any cold temperature below 8°C or below 46°F can damage your bowling ball forever. Extreme temperatures affect them by changing the size and which can cause breaking or cracking. At these temperatures, the ball will be even more solid and dangerous to both the person using it and others nearby.

Also, these low temperatures can discolor the bowling ball, and many times when it thaws, it does not return to its original color.

How Do I Unfreeze A Cold Or Frozen Bowling Ball?

When your bowling ball has frozen due to low temperatures or extreme cold, you need to warm it up before using it again. But to do it in the best way and not make the problem worse, you have to do it very slowly.

Tips For Warming Up A Frozen Bowling Ball

  • If you had the bowling ball outdoors, bring it indoors to adjust to the new temperature over a few days.
  • Rub the bowling ball with a warm towel to warm it up, then leave it wrapped in the same towel.
  • Read the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations, especially the method of putting the bowling ball in the water. With this method, use lukewarm water to begin, then gradually add warmer water.
  • Try taking your ball to a bowling center and place it in the bowling ball polisher.
  • Use special devices found in bowling centers to remove hot oil and then wipe it off with a warm towel.

Can A Broken Or Cracked Bowling Ball Be Repaired?

Fixing a broken or cracked bowling ball will depend on how damaged it is. If it has one or a few cracks, it is repairable. But if the cracks surround the entire ball, it is time to buy a new one.

If the crack is internal, there is a chance that this problem will be minor and will not affect your game for a while.

Sometimes when there are tiny external cracks, the player himself can fix them using super glue to join the parts together. However, another option is to take the ball to a bowling center to have it checked by a professional.

Is There A Perfect Temperature For Higher Scores?

Typically bowling is played at indoor facilities with air conditioners. Despite this, we see the players sweat when they are in the games, and the tension in this sport is very high because the slightest mistake can cost someone their entire game.

Besides, sweating while bowling is a nuisance. It can make the hands sticky and make the bowling ball slip or the throws bad.

Because of this, many experts say that the ideal temperatures for good bowling results range from 71.6°F to 64.4°F or 22°C to 18°C.

Does A Cold Bowling Ball React Differently?

You can be sure that your bowling ball will react differently when it is cold, and this change will probably not help your game. 

Here are some of the changes you will notice on your bowling ball when it’s cold:

  1. The bowling ball will be heavier and thicker
  2. The frozen bowling ball will skid and slip much more often when you throw it
  3. A frozen bowling ball may be difficult to control
  4. The heavier the bowling ball, the more likely for you to injure your wrist

It is recommended to replace a frozen bowling ball with a new one. That is because the outside of the frozen bowling ball changes in size. Then it begins to put force on the center of the ball until it reaches a point where it cracks. This makes it impossible to play with that bowling ball again.

It is clear that not everyone can store their bowling ball in places where it does not get cold. When this type of weather appears, you can take steps to protect the ball during these cold seasons.

10 Recommendations To Better Store And Protect Your Bowling Ball 

It is not a question of whether bowling ball storage is better in cold climates than in heat, in the end, the most important thing is that whatever place you choose has the characteristics needed to protect your bowling ball from temperature changes.

  1. Store it in a place that has a temperature of 70°F (21°C).
  2. Install an air conditioner and humidifier in the chosen location. Humidity should always be between 40% to 50%.
  3. On very hot days, open the windows to let air in. This will lower the humidity inside the room.
  4. If the room where you are going to store the bowling ball does not have windows, you should install an exhaust vent. This will also help lower the humidity, especially during the summer.
  5. Do not place the bowling ball in direct sunlight. If this happens, it can damage its outer layer.
  6. Store the ball inside its original box or case. If you do not already have it, you should look for a zippered bag to protect it. This way, you insulate the ball from the outside and take care of it so that the cold air does not make cracks.
  7. Do not place the bowling ball on carpets or upholstered fabrics. All these materials have chemicals that can also damage the outer layer of the ball.
  8. If you have the ball wrapped in a towel, turn it to change its position every week, this helps to keep pressure off the center of the ball and lower the chances of cracking.
  9. Never store the bowling ball with the finger hole area against the floor or the surface it is placed on. 
  10. To better protect the finger hole area, place a piece of foam rubber on it.

Bowling Balls In The Cold: A Conclusion

If you are worried about your bowling ball freezing, you should choose the place where you will store it and control the temperature of that place before the winter comes. 

Forget about storing the ball in the car trunk or the garage because these are places that will always have very cold or hot temperatures. 

The key to your bowling ball maintaining a good condition is that the climate around it remains stable. If you take these instructions to heart, it will be enough to keep your bowling balls for a long time. 

Tim C, M.D.

My grandfather and my mother both taught me bowling in the early 1970’s. I spent the next few decades working my way up to the top tiers of local amateur bowling leagues, and continued to participate in college at the club level. My wife and bowled in coed leagues before kids, and then taught our kids bowling as they grew up. Now I’m here to answer some of the web’s common questions about bowling rules, techniques, equipment and more. To see more about the site, check our About Page

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