The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) released some new guidance for its bowling ball rules a couple years ago that finally went into effect this August. These changes will affect bowling competitions in Hampton, VA and across the United States.

Here’s an overview of what you should know about the USBC’s new bowling ball rules.

Changes to bowling ball regulations

As of August 1, any bowling ball that has a balance hole or weight hole will no longer be allowed to be used in USBC-certified competitions. This change was announced over two years ago on April 24, 2018.

The USBC set August 1, 2020 as a deadline for bowlers to make the adjustment, and as that deadline approached earlier this year, the USBC never indicated it had any plans to change that deadline, even despite the shutdowns of the bowling industry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The national bowling governing body said there had already been plenty of time for bowlers to make the necessary adjustments to their bowling ball arsenals.

For bowlers, this means if you have been using a bowling ball with a balance hole (usually drilled in the side, and different from a hole meant for gripping the ball) it means you will not be allowed to use that ball again unless you get the hole plugged. You can get this done at your local bowling pro shop. They’ll be aware of the changes to USBC ball guidelines, so simply ask them to plug the hole to make it legal for competition. This process is quite simple, but you may need to leave the ball at the shop overnight to allow the plug to dry.

Keep in mind that this rule is only meant for USBC-certified tournaments and leagues, or any uncertified events that still follow USBC rules. You are still more than welcome to use older balls for casual games outside of competition, and are under no requirement to have balls plugged if they will only be used for those recreational purposes.

Why the changes?

Some bowlers have questioned why the USBC decided to make these changes.

According to the governing body, balance holes are designed to correct static imbalance that can exist in bowling balls, but some manufacturers have started using them to change the “design intent” of those balls, creating a competitive advantage. The USBC changed the specification for static side, thumb or finger weight to compensate for the loss of balance holes.

In a news release, the USBC said the following:

“By allowing bowling balls (for balls weighing more than 10 pounds) to have up to three ounces of static side, thumb and finger weight—which is up from one ounce—and up to three ounces of top weight, there no longer will be the need for a balance hole to correct static imbalance in the typical ball layout.”

If you’re interested in learning more about these changes to bowling ball rules and how it could potentially affect you and your bowling ball arsenal if you take part in USBC-certified competitions, we encourage you to contact Sparetimes or visit our bowling alley in Hampton, VA. We’d be glad to help you avoid accidentally using an illegal bowling ball in a USBC-certified competition!

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