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Can a Bowling Ball Lose Its Hook? Why Does This Happen?

A lady that plays in two bowling leagues rolling a strike after using a ball cleaner for proper maintenance.

Can a bowling ball lose its hook? This is a question that has been debated by bowlers for years. Some people believe that bowling balls lose their hook over time, while others think it’s simply impossible.

Well, we’ve done the research and will let you know for sure whether bowling balls can lose their hook. We’ll also touch on what you can do about it.

Can a Bowling Ball Lose Its Hook?

A bowling ball can lose its hook. This often happens when the coverstock of the ball starts to wear down. The coverstock is the ball’s outer layer that rolls on top of the bowling lane. When this layer begins to degrade, it can result in the ball losing its hook.

Several factors can cause a bowling ball’s coverstock to wear down, and we’ll cover them in the below list:

  • Age. As a bowling ball ages, the coverstock will start to break down and wear out. It’s no one’s fault – it just happens. 
  • Lack of maintenance. How you take care of your ball (or don’t) also determines how long the coverstock will last. The coverstock will not last very long if you don’t clean your ball regularly.
  • The lane you bowl on. The type of lane you bowl on can also ruin your coverstock. If you bowl on a lane with a lot of oil, the oil can break down the coverstock. On the other hand, if you usually bowl on a dry lane, the outer portion of your ball may take quite a bit of damage to its coverstock.

*This is not an exhaustive list of factors that cause coverstock damage.

All of the above factors can lead to a loss in hook. But all is not lost – keep reading to learn more.

A male bowler with the best hook we've ever seen using finger inserts after resurfacing his ball with sanding pads.

Can You Still Use a Ball That’s Lost Its Hook?

The short answer to this question is a simple “yes.” You can use a bowling ball that’s lost its hook. However, you’ll most likely have less control over the ball and it will be more challenging to make accurate shots.

If you’re a competitive bowler, we recommend getting rid of the ball. But if you’re just bowling for fun, then a ball that’s lost its hook will work just fine.

The long answer is a little more complicated. Once your ball loses its hook, you’ll need to alter your bowling style to compensate. This may include adding more spin pre-release or changing your release point.

If you’re unsure how to do this, we recommend asking your local pro shop for help. They should be able to give you tips on how to bowl with a ball that’s lost its hook.

Can You Fix or Compensate for a Ball That’s Lost Its Hook?

With all of that understood, we’ll bet you’re wondering whether there’s anything you can do to fix a ball that’s lost its hook. The good news is that there are a few things you can do so long as the ball isn’t too old or damaged.

Some of the following tips may help you get your ball’s hook back:

A young white woman that's using old bowling balls on an original pattern at vestavia bowling lanes in birmingham.

Clean the Ball

Any build-up on the ball’s coverstock can lead to a loss in hooking potential. So, make sure you’re cleaning your ball regularly with a good cleaner.

Not just any cleaner, though. Use supplies specifically formulated to clean bowling balls. Most experts suggest cleaning a ball once every seven days or even more frequently if you bowl multiple days per week.

Anyone who doesn’t want to invest in a specific cleaner can find simple recipes online to clean their ball with everyday items found at home.

Also, don’t forget to use a microfiber cloth to wipe your ball down between your throws. While this may not keep all the oils from seeping into the ball’s surface, it can help keep them from accumulating too quickly.

Resurface the Ball

The resurfacing process will remove the old coverstock and give the ball a fresh start. Resurfacing will also remove any dirt or oil on the ball, which could affect its hooking potential. 

Bowling ball surface maintenance helps keep a bowling ball in excellent shape when it’s done regularly. By giving your ball the attention it deserves after each game and sometimes between games, you can avoid any changes in your ball’s performance. 

The internet is full of options for a bowler to resurface a ball at home.

If you’re uncomfortable resurfacing on your own, take the ball to a pro shop and get a second opinion about resurfacing. Any reliable shop should be able to steer you in the right direction.

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Use a Different Bowling Lane

If you’ve been bowling on the same lane for a while, try changing things up and using a different lane (or a different bowling alley). This could help improve your ball’s hook by giving it another surface to interact with. Bowling balls tend to hook more on dry lanes versus oiled lanes.

Alter Your Bowling Style

If you’ve been bowling the same way for a while, your ball may have lost its hook because you’ve become too predictable. Try changing your bowling style, such as your grip or release point. This will help you find a new hook for your ball.

Bowler just barely cleared the 10-bowling pin after adjusting his style to use different speeds due to lane conditions.

How Long Do Bowling Balls Last?

Most bowling balls last for five to ten years, depending on how it’s stored and how often maintenance is performed. For the average bowler, this means you’ll get 150 to 300 games out of a single ball, excluding any unusual circumstances.

When Is It Time to Replace a Ball That’s Lost Its Hook?

There will come a time when all of the above tips will no longer work and you’ll need to replace your ball. If your ball is over a few years old, it’s probably time to upgrade.

In addition, if the ball is starting to show signs of wear and tear, such as deep cracks or chips, it’s time to get a new one.

You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide whether it’s time for a new ball. If you’re not sure, we recommend consulting with your local pro shop. They should be able to help you make a decision based on your individual needs.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bowling Ball vs. Repair It?

The cost of a new bowling ball can range from $50 to $300. If you decide to get your ball resurfaced, it will cost you around $20 to $40. If you need more extensive repairs, such as fixing cracks or chips, the cost will be closer to $50.

So, if you usually play with a cheap ball, you’re better off just buying a similar new one.

On the other hand, if you usually play with a professional-level ball, you will have to spend much more for a comparable ball than repairing the existing one. But if you have the money for it, you can always buy a new one – there’s nothing like a fresh new bowling ball!  

A bowler throws a perfect pocket shot after almost getting his fingers stuck in the ball as he releases a perfect strike.

Related Articles

As you’ve learned, a bowling ball can lose its hook for several reasons. But you’ve got several options for dealing with a bowling ball that no longer hooks.

The more a bowler knows about how to care for their bowling ball and how certain situations can impact performance, the better.

So if your ball is showing no signs of improvement after you’ve tried the remedies in this article, schedule some much-needed maintenance. We hope this guide has helped you determine how to keep your bowling ball hooking. Happy bowling!