Balance Hole in Bowling Ball and New Rule of USBC

balance hole in bowlingAre you familiar with the balance hole in a bowling ball? It’s completely fine if you’re not. Many experienced bowlers aren’t even familiar with that simply because it is not a mandatory feature of a bowling ball and not everyone has or needs one in their ball. Unlike the three grip holes, a balance hole is not for gripping or inserting your finger. So what is it for? Why balance holes is drilled in bowling balls? Is there any specific rule regarding that? Well, we have all the answers regarding the balance holes in bowling balls and the new rule of USBC. So, keep on reading to know more about them!

What is exactly mean by Balance Hole in Bowling Ball?

A balance hole in a bowling ball is the extra hole besides the grip holes. As you can guess, it is not for gripping purposes, but it is primarily drilled to make the bowling ball stable weight legal according to the updated USBC Equipment Specifications and Certifications Manual. This is applicable only when the bowling ball is a bit outside the legal weight limit after the regular grip drilling. Bowlers who want to fine-tune their bowling ball reactions after the main drilling process, balance holes are one of the options.

What is the intended purpose of a Balance Hole?

Traditionally, the balance hole was introduced to the bowling world in pretty simple terms. But historically, it was believed the higher a balance hole in a bowling ball the more it is related to the midline. And, the more it impacts the midline of the ball the more the flare potential decreases. Oppositely, the lower the balance hole in a bowling ball the more it’s in relation to the midline. And, of course, the more the flare potential increases of the bowling ball. Moreover, there are some other factors of balance holes that influence a ball’s overall performance.

Balance holes of bowling balls were intended to facilitate correction of the static imbalance. This hole was drilled so that the bowling ball can abide by the one-ounce rule for thumb, finger, or side-weight by USBC. This is also for the USBC’s three-ounce rule for top or bottom weight.

Are balance holes illegal in bowling?

Balance holes were legal till July 31, 2020. It was very recently declared ‘illegal’ by USBC. Balance holes (a.k.a. weight holes) were labeled illegal from August 1, 2020, for all the USBC competitions. First, it was announced on April 24, 2018. So bowlers who had bowling balls with balance holes were given two years to prepare and get used to the new rule. So if you still have a bowling ball with a balance hole, get it plugged if you’re soon to enter in a USBC certified tournament or competition. Plus, you’ll be needing practices after you’re done plugging the bowling ball.

Why did USBC eliminate the balance hole?

Drilling your bowling ball is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal if it’s a bowling ball as it takes out a few ounces of weight. Many of the pro shop operators and professionals use balance holes as a tool to manipulate your bowling balls. We though, it’s a bit late for the bowling world, but years of studies showed that a balance hole actually increases the Differential Radius of Gyration (RG), and as a result, it strengthens the ball’s reaction beyond the original design is supposed to. So it is unfair for other bowlers who don’t have a weight hole drilled in their bowling ball.

Do balance holes provide more hook?

As we just mentioned, a balance hole can enhance the RG Diff greatly and it impacts the ball’s overall strength. The higher the strength, the more it is likely to give you a much stronger hook. So, yes, balance holes can provide you extra hook on the bowling lane in some cases. Do, remember, it mostly depends on the location, degree, and size of the hole in your ball. The recent studies showed that a balance hole has the ability to increase RG Diff, in other words, the flare potential, up to 0.021 which is a pretty big deal when it comes to ball’s hooking.

USBC New Rule of bowling ball weight hole

As per the new rule announced by USBC, balance holes are now officially eliminated from August 1, 2020. This newly declared rule indicates that all holes in a bowling ball must be used on every single delivery during bowling. Any extra hole that isn’t used for finger insertion during ball delivery is considered a balance hole, also known as a weight hole, and they are now illegal.

A different rule is also applicable for bowlers who don’t use their thumb during bowling. If you’re someone like that, you can no longer have a thumb hole in your bowling, simply because it will be considered an illegal balance hole. What they will have to do are- get the thumb hole plugged and also need to mark their ball. This is to show where they always place their palm during bowling ball deliveries.

Does the new static weight rule apply only to new bowling balls drilled after Aug 1, 2018?

Unfortunately, no. No matter how new or old your bowling ball is if it has a balance hole drilled in it you are prohibited to use that for USBC tournaments. So whether you drilled a balance hole in your bowling ball before or after August 1, 2018, the new static weight rule is applicable for your ball. So, if you’re planning to plug your bowling ball, don’t forget to fill the balance hole too.

Will I have to buy a new ball if I have a balance hole in my existing equipment?

Not necessarily. Indeed, the balance holes are now illegal as they could take out about 3 ounces of static weight from a ball. But if you can get your ball plugged and meet up to the new specification limits of USBC, then your bowling ball will still be legal to use for tournaments and competitions. Therefore, it is very unlikely you will have to get a new bowling ball. But here’s the heads up. If they butcher your bowling ball during the plugging process, only then you will need a new one as your bowling ball will become useless.


Our final words for you will be- if you have a bowling ball with a balance hole, get it plugged ASAP. One more thing- if any of your friends start talking about balance holes, make sure you inform them about the new change as many bowlers still aren’t aware of the new change and elimination of balance holes. Don’t forget to tell them about the Balance Holes in Bowling Balls and the New Rule of USBC.


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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