How Long do Bowling Balls Last?

On average, a bowling ball lasts between three and 10 years, depending on the choice of material, how often you use it, and how well you take care of it.

Bowling balls

People invest good money to find the best possible bowling ball. Perfect lane friction, optimal hook potential, and smooth control are some of the things bowlers want. Sadly, as the games are regularly played, the 10-pins are not the only things taking a hit. Bowling balls do lose a little along the way, but how long can you expect to play with one?

Do Bowling Balls Die?


Over time, bowling balls do lose their effect. It is a sad fact of life that, no matter how regularly you clean it, eventually, your ball is not going to hook or glide down the lanes as smoothly as it once did. That being said, the only time a ball can truly be declared “dead” is when it is completely cracked in half. With a bit of work and some expert treatment, a ball can continue to knock down pins for as long as you can, just not quite as well as it once did.

How Many Games Can a Bowling Ball Last?

The standard belief is that a bowling ball should easily survive for 300 games. After this many trips down the lane, it may be time for your ball to take a time out. That statement should not be taken as law, however. Several factors can change the life span of your ball, including how well you take care of it and what type of coverstock you use. The four main types of bowling ball are as follows:

Plastic / Polyester

The plastic coverstock bowling ball is a classic favorite. Because it has less friction on the lane, you lose some of the hooking ability, but it is the easiest ball type to control. The durability is average, with the life span sitting anywhere between five and 10 years with proper care.


As long as it doesn’t crack and you take proper care of it, your urethane bowling ball can last a decade or more. It is essential to wipe the oil off the surface of the ball after every throw, otherwise, maintenance becomes much more difficult. This type of coverstock is extremely popular amongst bowlers of all levels, particularly those first deciding to invest in pro-quality equipment. Urethane is not a reactive material. On some lane conditions, there is no better ball to use for sheer hook potential. The non-reactive resin provides excellent friction on oily lanes while remaining easy to control.

Reactive Resin

Reactive resin bowling balls have excellent grip and hook potential. They work excellently on oily lane conditions and have versatile capabilities. Unfortunately, reactive resin coverstock is not the most durable and is not likely to last as long as other styles. Some bowlers report having to replace their reactive resin bowling ball after as few as 50 games. This is possible because of how much reactive resin absorbs oil. Of course, if you properly maintain the bowling ball, it could last longer. Big names like Brunswick and Ebonite favor this material in their high-performance bowling balls.


The grip and pro-level hook shot you can achieve make particle coverstock bowling balls popular amongst competitive bowlers. The bumpy surface causes a lot of friction with the lane, meaning the balls can manage some pretty cool tricks. Durability-wise, they are very normal.

When to Buy a New Ball

Online buying

Even the most cherished, loved, and expertly maintained bowling is destined to one day earn its rest and be retired to the memory shelf. Wear and tear is an inevitable fact of life for bowling balls as much as bowlers. The answer to the question of when is the right time to replace your bowling ball comes down to circumstance.

  • If you begin to notice that the regular maintenance is not helping and the ball’s performance is getting worse, it is probably time to say goodbye.
  • Every time you resurface your bowling ball, the coverstock gets worn away a little more. The general rule of thumb is that if you can no longer see the logo, it is time to get a new ball.
  • Although a cracked ball can be fixed, multiple or repeating cracks are signs the ball is on its last legs.
  • If you have a competition coming up and you think your ball may be beyond its best days, consider shopping for a new one rather than trying to bowl with a tired ball.

Caring For a Bowling Ball: Maintenance Tips

Like most things, the better you care for your bowling ball, the longer it is likely to last. You can extend the expected lifespan by keeping it clean and well maintained. Here are a few of the best maintenance tips from the experts.


Professional resurfacing is the best way to restore your bowling ball to its prime condition. When you resurface a ball, you sand it down until the microscopic pores on the coverstock surface have the same sharp edges they did when you bought it. According to the experts, you should think about resurfacing your bowling ball every 60 games. Conveniently, 60 games are also the recommended time frame for replacing finer inserts so you can do the two together.

Sanding and Polishing at Home

Although resurfacing is the best way to get your bowling ball back in fighting shape, you can maintain its performance in the meantime by lightly sanding and polishing it by yourself if you feel it needs it. You can buy excellent products in your local pro shop that help keep the ball shining. The recommendation is to polish roughly every six to 15 games, depending on the product you use and how old your bowling ball is. You can also pay for professional polishing if you want to really pamper your bowling ball. It doesn’t cost a lot and helps boost the ball’s performance and grip.

Remove Oil and Clean

One of the biggest problems bowling balls face is oil absorption. The oil from the lanes sticks to the surface of the bowling balls and seeps into the outer core. If left too long, this reduces the ball’s performance and ultimately lifespan. The best thing to do is wipe down the surface with a microfibre pad after every through, especially if you use a urethane ball. You should also clean it straight after each game using a special cleaning wipe or spray. Even if you put maximum care into keeping your bowling ball clean, every once in a while you should take it to a local pro shop for professional oil extraction.

Avoid Cracks

Extreme temperatures and phasing (a type of chemical reaction) can cause bowling balls to crack. A cracked bowling ball is not a death sentence, but it does take quite a bit of work to fix. Being improperly stored for too long does a bowling ball no good, and the extreme reaction is proof. Avoid leaving yours anywhere particularly hot or cold. If you notice it changing color as it adjusts to room temperature, your ball is phasing. This reaction can be an early sign of an impending cracked ball. Don’t throw your ball until it is at an average temperate and keep it moisture-free. A good way to do this is to cover it with a towel before you store it.


Is a cracked bowling ball fixable? 

Yes, it is. If the surface of your ball cracks, it is possible to fix it. There are kits available, but you should take the damaged ball to an expert for the best results.

How does playing with an old bowling ball affect your game?

Every aspect of your game can be put off balance with an old or dirty bowling ball. You can find loads of informative video posts on Youtube and other bowling sites about what to do if you start to lose hook ability, reaction, or can’t seem to get on the pins with your old ball. They can show you how to resurface your ball at home, how to clean your ball for a better shot, and have plenty of other posts about understanding lane conditions and all things bowling.

What is a good brand for long-lasting bowling balls?

There are so many manufacturers out there that it can be hard to narrow down. In the US, Storm bowling balls are considered some of the best in the business. The choice of reactive resin high-performance balls on the website is impressive. There are also many other durable options to choose from. The Storm website is a great place for all your bowling needs and to see all the recent posts on social media. Alternatively, stop by your local pro shop to talk with an expert about the best ball to buy.


Caring for your equipment in any sport is essential for getting your money’s worth and keeping your game on track. If you can bowl for several years with the same ball, it is fair to say you did just that. When you are getting near to 300 games, give your bowling ball some TLC, and who’s to say it could not go another few hundred rounds!