Should You Get Inserts for Your Bowling Ball?


Bowling is a fun sport that combines strength, precision, and fun in just the right amount to make it a social favorite. When you get into bowling, you have something competitive to do with your friends, but you must make sure to stay safe before you adopt the sport. So, are bowling inserts essential to make bowling safer?

You should get bowling inserts for your bowling balls to avoid injuring your fingers upon release. By giving you a consistent feel from ball to ball, finger inserts allow you to grip the ball better and protect your fingers from rubbing against harsher surfaces. (Source)

This article covers all you need to know about choosing, applying, and using finger inserts to make your bowling experience safer. Moreover, it goes over the question of whether a heavier ball is better for bowling. By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of finger inserts and bowling safety.

How Tight Should Bowling Ball Inserts Be?

Bowling ball inserts provide a customized cushion for your fingers as you lift and release the ball upon the swing. Your swing, lift, and release time are all affected by how good the insert is. If it is too tight, you may find it hard to fit the fingers in after mild swelling. If it is too loose, you may be forced to retrain your release.

Your bowling ball should only be as tight as you need to get a good lift without causing friction against your skin. The function of the insert is to provide a surface your fingers can safely grip. An insert is not meant to be a tight-fit sheath so prioritize snugness over tightness to be safe.

If you err on the side of having a wider insert, you will be able to add some tape into the insert to make it tighter. On the other hand, making it too tight rules out your ability to customize if your hand requires more room.

What Are the Different Types of Finger Inserts?

Bowling ball finger inserts come in different shapes and sizes. To ensure an optimal experience, you should know about all types before making your selection. Below are some of the common types of finger inserts. (Source)

Perfect Oval

Often referred to as stand-oval inserts, these finger inserts are a tube with an oval shape throughout the insert. The end from which your finger or thumb goes in is an oval, just like the end that is all the way into the ball. This insert is meant to aid with the surface feel without affecting your lift.

Flat Edge

These inserts are similar to ovals. The side from which your thumb or finger goes in is an oval. However, there is a flat edge on the other end that is meant to help you lift the ball better by giving you a tighter point of leverage all the way into the ball.

Thumb Slugs

These are not meant for beginner safety or to help with finger skin protection. They are solely meant to duplicate the feel of a bowling ball’s interior across different balls. A solid finger-sized cylinder made of urethane material (same as many bowling balls) is drilled to match your thumb’s size. 

The slug is then glued into the ball’s wider hole and gives you the same feel as a bowling ball’s interior while providing you with a snug space for your fingers. When you move from ball to ball, you can have the slug removed and placed in the next ball, so you don’t have to adjust to new material or finger space.

Finger Insert vs. Slug: What Is Better?

Upon hearing about the different kinds of finger inserts, one may wonder which insert is right for them. As long as you know your goal with inserts, you can easily find the right option.

In the instance that your fingers get skin irritation when bowling and you want to avoid that, a simple oval would be great for you. The oval will not interfere too much with your pitch and not affect your grip as much as the other options.

On the other hand, if you wish to improve your grip while protecting your fingers, you can opt for a flat edge or any bowling insert with one end narrower than the other. You can also add a little bit of tape to a perfect oval on one end to make it slightly narrower and achieve the same effect.

If you have been bowling for a long time and your fingers’ safety isn’t tied to having finger inserts, chances are you are interested in the finger slugs which replicate the feel of a classic bowling ball’s inside. 

By getting yourself a customized thumb slug, you can have different bowling balls feel the same on the inside. This helps many semi-professionals concentrate better and feel confident when moving to balls made of different materials.

How to Install Bowling Ball Finger Inserts

Many bowlers interested in installing finger inserts to their bowling balls would like to know the process. A bowling shop would be the best place to get an insert professionally fitted. Not only will the professionals know which insert fits you best, but they will glue the insert at the right depth. 

However, if you wish to install finger inserts yourself, follow the steps below. (Source)

  1. Purchase finger inserts that match your size and preference. You can purchase standard-oval cuts or flat-edge inserts based on your choice. 
  2. Test the inserts on your finger. Wear the inserts on your fingers and see if they are too tight or too loose. If they are as tight as a perfectly fitted ring, they are too tight to be bowling ball inserts. You should send them back if they are any tighter than a ring. If the finger inserts are loose, fold some tape and stick it on the insert’s interior. Try sliding your finger in and see if it is snug. 
  3. Apply glue to the thumb insert. At this stage, you are moving towards making your installation semi-permanent. Apply finger insert glue on the insert’s exterior and slide it into the ball. 
  4. Wait for the glue to dry and the insert to solidify in its new position. Remember, this may take a few hours more than the adhesive’s regular drying time because bowling balls are quite heavy, and the inserts experience a significant pull. Therefore, you should wait at least four hours before giving the ball a try.

Is It Better to Use a Heavier Bowling Ball?

One reason for installing finger inserts into your bowling ball is to get a better overall score in your games. If that is the case, you may also wonder whether heavier bowling balls are better. 

If you are concerned about your finger joints and wrist’s safety, a heavier ball is not better. It gives you less control, lower rolling speed, and larger wrist strain. However, heavier bowling balls do have their advantages when it comes to striking rate, lack of deflection, and a larger free swing. So ultimately, it is up to you to make a choice based on the risks and the rewards of heavier bowling balls. 

Final Thoughts

Bowling is a great hobby that helps form social connections and promotes competition. However, it is important to be safe as an injured finger can prevent you from practicing the game you love. Use finger inserts that are snug enough to keep your fingers from being irritated and improve your game with a better grip. Have a professional install the inserts to get the best-customized experience.

Sources

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

Recent Posts