Every sport has undergone a series of changes and technological advancements since its inception. Basketball, for example, was originally played with a heavy leather ball and two peach baskets! Bowling has also seen its fair share of advancements since it was originally played in 1820. Continue reading to learn about bowling technology in Hampton, VA and how the advancements have improved the sport.

High-tech bowling balls

The original bowling balls would be unrecognizable at today’s bowling alleys. They were made of hardwood like oak or lignum vitae and were quite a bit smaller than the balls we’re familiar with. These early balls also didn’t have holes, which would make today’s game a lot more challenging! The wooden balls were replaced with rubber balls in the early 1900s, and these were popular until the 1970s.

In the 1970s, softer plastic balls—typically made of polyester—were developed, which made the game more high scoring. Scores got even higher in 1990 when ball manufacturers began covering bowling balls with a reactive resin. The resin gripped the lane better, which made it easier for the pros to knock down pins.

Today’s balls must be measured along three axes (the X, Y and Z axes) to ensure they meet standards set by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). Any balls that don’t meet the USBC’s standards are deemed unfair and are disallowed.


You probably think you’re bowling on a wooden lane when you visit a bowling alley in Hampton, VA—but you’re not! While original lanes were constructed of maple and pine boards, synthetic lanes were introduced in 1977. While these new lanes look like the real thing, they’re less expensive to construct and easier to maintain.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that bowling lanes are quite oily. All of that oil is actually a fairly recent addition to bowling lanes. The oil and different oil patterns give the ball a truer roll and result in higher scores. Consequently, the addition of oil also required bowlers to switch up their rolling strategy, as the oil makes the ball spin much faster than a dry lane.

Automatic pinsetters

In the old days, bowling alleys used to employ “pinboys” to reset pins after each throw and return balls back to the bowlers. In addition to being dangerous, this was also a very low-paying job. The job became obsolete in 1936 when an automatic pinsetter was invented by Gottfried Schmidt. His machine was fully automated in 1946 and became a commercial product 10 years later.

Automated scoring

Before the 1980s, bowlers used to have to calculate and write scores down by themselves. Calculating bowling scores isn’t necessarily hard, but it is a time-consuming task. When automated scoring became the norm, it resulted in a resurgence in bowling. People could now go to a bowling alley in Hampton, VA and relax while a machine took care of all the scoring!

Join a bowling league at Sparetimes today!

To experience the latest advancements in bowling technology in Hampton, VA for yourself and to have some fun with fellow bowlers, join a summer league! Two-, three- or four-person teams make the perfect socially-distanced night out with friends and family.

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