How To Know If Your Bowling Ball Is Drilled Properly

Every bowler needs to have consistent ball delivery and ball movement for better scores. The drilling pattern is plays an important role that contributes to this. It must be done correctly to achieve a proper reaction. 

Bowling ball drilling patterns vary widely and depend on the bowler’s preferences, hand size and ball weight. Most bowlers have several bowling balls in their arsenal, drilled in different ways. That is because they might be looking for something very specific in each.

A combination of the type of ball construction, coverstock, and drilling layout is what’s important overall. But, the layout of your bowling balls can help you have the edge over your competitors.

You probably don’t plan on drilling your ball. But knowing the layouts can be a benefit for all competitive bowlers. Keep reading to learn more about these differences and how to choose the proper drilling for you.

What Is a Drilling Layout?

The term drilling layout in bowling simply refers to how and where the holes are mapped out for drilling holes into your ball. This is done for gripping purposes, and it takes into account the bowling ball locator pin and mass bias mark.

The Importance Of Drilling Layouts

Some of the important aspects of drilling layouts are:

  • Helps with ball reaction in the lane
  • It affects the ball’s motion
  • You should choose a layout that matches your coverstock and the construction of your ball.
  • They are classified as weak, controlled, and strong layouts.

Types Of Drilling Layouts

There are three main layout types.

Weak Layout

Skid phase: the ball will travel faster

Back end reaction: very mild

Weak layouts are preferred for dominant players. This layout will offer high traction between the ball and the lane. That is because the ball will not snap suddenly on the back end of the lane.

Weak layouts can also help players who want small amounts of friction between the bowling lane and ball. The layout can help when the lane surface is dry or very dry. This layout can help if the bowler wants to hold the back-end reaction of the ball.

Strong Layout

Skid phase: the ball will travel longer

Back end reaction: more angular motion

A strong layout helps when your ball doesn’t finish up strong enough. Players who create small amounts of friction can benefit from this drilling layout. After the lane burns up, a strong layout will make the ball move back to the pocket very easily.

Controlled Layout

A control drilling falls somewhere between a weak and strong layout. This drilling layout will offer you a good front-end skid and a controllable motion in the back end. These characteristics make the ball work well in most lane conditions. Controlled layouts should be a must-have in every bowler’s arsenal.

How To Choose The Correct Drilling Layout

There are few things one must consider before deciding which drilling layout we’ll use for our ball:

  1. Identify what’s missing from your arsenal
  2. Determine which high-performance ball you want to buy (symmetric or asymmetric)
  3. Select a coverstock that matches the friction rates you expect
    1. Shiny reactive coverstocks.
    2. Matte finish reactive coverstocks
    3. Pearl coverstocks
    4. Hybrid coverstocks
  4. Choose a layout option that gives you more chances of hitting the pocket.

How Should A Bowling Ball Fit My Hand?

Factors Before Drilling

There are many factors to consider before drilling a bowling ball to fit your hand.


This process is done by a pro shop professional, and this person will measure your hand to find out the size and shape of your grip.


The second step would be to inspect how your hand opens and closes, determine your fingers and thumb shape. Then calculate the distance between your thumb and fingers.


The third step is the drilling process after gathering information in the measuring and fitting steps. The professional will start drilling the holes into your ball.

Once drilled, the holes must be leveled, contoured, and shaped to fit your fingers and thumb. The ball should fit your gripping fingers without looseness.

Grip Type

There are two basic grips in bowling, the conventional grip and the fingertip grip. Some bowlers use a semi-fingertip grip, making this the third type. Knowing your expected grip is highly important because it helps you assess whether your ball has been drilled properly or not. Here, we’ll see more details about them.

Conventional Grip

This is the most common grip and the preferred one for beginners and intermediate players. In this type, you must place your thumb deep down into the hole, leaving your thumb completely inserted into the hole.

Your ring and middle finger should be placed into the holes until the second knuckles, although some people recommend placing them all the way down to the holes.

Fingertip Grip

This grip is commonly used by bowlers who have excelled at using the conventional grip. These advanced bowlers will look for the gripping fingers to be located halfway into the holes, and the thumb is fully inserted.

Additional Tips

There are additional things to consider before making sure the drilling was done correctly.

  • Insert your fingers carefully to make sure the holes are the right size
  • Try to insert your fingers and thumb as far as possible to confirm the depth matches what you are looking for
  • Confirm you feel more pressure towards your ring and middle finger than your thumb

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Have A Bowling Ball Drilled?

If you are doing this process for the first time, it may take between 35 minutes to 1 hour. Once the pro shop professional gets to know you, the process can last 20 to 30 minutes.

What Are The Legal Ways For Drilling Bowling Balls?

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) announced that effective August 2020 that balls should only have three finger holes. Some balls have a balance hole. But balance holes are considered illegal. 

This rule applies to USBC competitions. If your ball has a balance hole, you can take it to a pro shop to have it plugged.

Can Balls Be Redrilled And Still Be Used?

If you get a second-hand bowling ball, chances are the holes don’t fit your hand size. Here are some pros and cons about it:


  • Less expensive than buying a new bowling ball
  • Same performance as long as the coverstock is well maintained


  • This process can damage the core
  • Can cause cracks in the coverstock

How To Find Bowling Ball Drilling Layout

Some websites, such as bowlingball.com could help in finding the right layout. They will offer you options based on what’s suggested by the manufacturer. Also, they consider many other variables such as the hook style, oil conditions, rev-rate, and the axis tilt.

How Much Weight Does Drilling A Bowling Ball Remove?

The drilling process will remove up to 2.5 ounces out of your bowling ball.

Does A Bowling Ball Have To Have 3 Holes?

For gripping purposes, your ball should only have three holes. This is what the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) considers legal.

You might see bowling balls that have the fourth hole, and this one is called a balance hole. This additional hole is used to give static weight to the ball.

What Weight Bowling Ball Do The Pros Use?

It might depend on each bowler’s preference, but weights range from 14 pounds to 16 pounds. Researchers have concluded that most male bowlers use a 15-pound ball.

Female bowlers, on the other hand, use balls ranging from 13 to 15 pounds. The average female professional bowler uses a 14-pound ball.

How Do I Know If My Bowling Ball Is Too Heavy?

Some people suggest the best way to tell if your ball is too heavy is by lifting it with your bowling hand for about 15 seconds. If you can hold it steady, it means it is not too heavy for you.

If the ball is too heavy, your arm will be shaky, and you won’t be able to hold it still. It means you should choose a lighter ball.

What Does The Dot On A Bowling Ball Mean?

Every bowling ball comes with a colored dot, called the pin. The pin is essential to determine how to drill your ball because it indicates the rotation point of your ball.

And when drilling your ball, you always want your ball to rotate around this dot.


There are no absolute answers when it comes to the drilling layout. There’s also no algorithm where you enter your data to get at a drilling layout option.

The most important thing is to know your arsenal and what you expect to improve in your game. In tournaments or leagues, the drilling layout of your next bowling ball should be focused on matching the lane conditions you face.

Another important aspect is to get your ball to a pro shop. Talk to the professionals at the pro shop and let them know what your expectations are and how’s your current game. The professional will be able to give you more information about what you need and will be able to drill your ball in a few minutes.

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