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Professional Bowlers Association Specifies Maximum Size and Weight

Bowling is a sport where a weighted ball is rolled down an alley and is aimed at a target of ten pins. The goal being to knock over all 10 pins in the first role.

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) regulates the bowling balls that can be used in PBA Tour competitions.  With nearly 4,300 members representing 13 countries, the PBA considers itself the “major league” of bowling in the world.  In addition to size and weight, the PBA rule for bowling ball specifications also covers balance, holes, surface, plugged equipment, gripping materials, and damaged equipment.

Rule 11 – BOWLING BALL SPECIFICATIONS
11.1 General. It is the player’s responsibility to make sure all bowling balls used in PBA competition are cleared for use by the PBA and meet all PBA specifications.
11.2 Ball Weighing Scales. Equipment to weigh bowling balls will be made available to all competitors throughout the event.
11.3 Bowling Ball Size and Weight.
11.3.1 Ball Circumference and Diameter. The circumference of a ball may not exceed twenty-seven (27) inches. The ball diameter must remain constant.
11.3.2 Gross Weight. The gross weight of a bowling ball may not exceed sixteen (16) lbs.
11.4 Bowling Ball Balance.
11.4.1 Top and Bottom Weight. The difference in weight between the top (center of grip CG) of the ball, and the bottom (side opposite the CG) of the ball, may not exceed three (3) ounces.
11.4.2 Side/Finger/Thumb Weight. The difference in weight between the sides to the left and right (side weight) as well as front and back (Finger/Thumb weight) of the CG may not exceed one (1) ounce.
11.4.3 No Thumb Hole. If no thumb hole is drilled, the bowling ball must balance within one (1) ounce in any direction.
11.5 Bowling Ball Holes.
11.5.1 Holes for Gripping Purposes. Bowling balls may not have more than five (5) holes for gripping purposes.
11.5.2 Extra Holes. A ball may have one (1) extra hole for balance purposes (a maximum of 1 ¼ inches in diameter).
11.5.3 Vent Holes. A ball may have one (1) vent hole for each finger and/or thumb hole, not to exceed one-quarter (1/4) of an inch in diameter.
11.5.4 No Thumb Delivery. If player does not use his or her thumb to deliver the ball, but a thumb hole is drilled, a portion of the thumb or palm must cover the hole on all deliveries.
11.6 Weigh-in Violation Penalties. Penalties for bowling ball specifications noted in Rules 11.1 through Rule 11.5.
11.6.1 PBA Tour. Penalties for exceeding the specifications noted in Rules 11.1 through 11.5.
Penalty for 1st Offense: Minor – $500
Penalty for 2nd Offense in a Season: Intermediate – $1000
Penalty for 3rd Offense in a Season: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.6.2 PBA Regional Tour/PBA Senior Tour. Penalties for exceeding the specifications noted in Rules 11.1 through 11.5.
Penalty for 1st Offense in a Season: Minor – $200
Penalty for 2nd Offense in a Season: Minor – $500
Penalty for 3rd Offense in a Season: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.7 Bowling Ball Surface.
11.7.1 Surface Hardness. The surface hardness of a ball must not be less than seventy-two (72) on the Durometer “D” scale.
Penalty: Bowling Conduct Violation
– $250 (PBA Tour)
– $100 (PBA Senior and Regional Tour)
11.7.2 Altering the Surface of a Ball. If the surface friction of the ball is altered by sanding or polishing, the entire surface of the ball must be sanded or polished in a uniform manner.
a. A player may not alter the surface of a ball in any way during any round in which he or she is competing including any position round.
b. Each match during a championship round finals shall be considered a separate round.
11.7.3 Unauthorized Coatings on Ball Surface. Bowling balls coated with anything other than polishes may not be used in PBA competition.
Penalty: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.7.4 Acetone and Acetone-Based Products. Acetone and acetone based products may be used only for the removal of excess glue around the gripping area.
Ball is not Subsequently Used
Penalty: Bowling Conduct Violation
– $250 (PBA Tour)
– $100 (PBA Senior & Regional Tour)
Ball is Used During the Current Round or Match
Penalty: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.7.5 Protruding Objects. No foreign objects may protrude from the surface of a ball.
Penalty for 1st Offense: Warning
Penalty for 2nd Offense during the PBA Tour Season:
PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.7.6 Foreign Material on Ball Surface. All foreign material (such as rosin or powder) may not be applied directly to the surface of the ball.
Penalty for 1st Offense: Warning
Penalty for 2nd Offense in a Season: Bowling Conduct Violation
– $250 (PBA Tour)
– $100 (Senior and Regional Tour)
Penalty for 3rd and Subsequent Offenses during a Tournament: Disqualification
NOTE: The Tournament Director may allow a player to remove foreign substances from the bowling ball surface with authorized cleaners on a case-by-case basis.
11.8 Plugged Equipment. Plugging material may be used in accordance with current USBC specifications. No foreign matter may be placed within the plug area, and all equipment shall otherwise comply will PBA regulations.
Penalty for 1st Offense: Intermediate – $500 and the ball must be immediately removed from play
Penalty for 2nd Offense in a Season: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.9 Gripping Devices.
11.9.1 Gripping Material. Material used solely for gripping purposes may be used provided it may readily be removed for spot checks and complies with current Product Registration guidelines.
11.9.2 Removable Devices. Removable devices may be used provided such devices are:
a. In compliance with current Product Registration guidelines.
b. Used for changing the span, pitch, or size of the gripping holes.
c. Constructed of a non-metallic material.
d. Locked in position during delivery.
e. Not used to alter the static balance of the ball.
11.9.3 Penalties for Non-Compliance of Gripping Devices Rule. The following penalty shall apply:
Penalty: PBA Code of Ethics Violation – Disqualification
11.10 Damaged Equipment.
11.10.1 Equipment Damage During Competition. If a bowling ball is damaged during tournament play in such a fashion that it does not meet PBA specifications, the player must immediately notify the Tournament Director.
Penalty: Bowling Conduct Violation
– $250 (PBA Tour)
– $100 (PBA Senior and Regional Tour)
11.10.2 Removing Damaged Ball From Competition. The Tournament Director has the option to remove a ball from competition if it is felt that the damaged ball could adversely affect the lane surface.

References:
Professional Bowlers Association – www.pba.com
Bowling Ball Specifications – www.bowl.com/uploadedFiles/Equipment_Specs/Information/2012FebESManualWEBINTERACTIVE.pdf
Photo – www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-2610743-stock-footage-two-people-bowling.html

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Sports Balls is a group of sports enthusiasts interested in the official specifications of balls used as sports equipment. As hobbyists, we are continually amazed at the level of detail used to accomplish fair play.

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