What You need to Know about Bowling Ball Drilling?

Bowling Ball DrillingPicking a bowling ball is easier than you think. You can go through several articles for reviews, know your bowling style, and the type of ball you want- and yippee! You now have your dream bowling ball. Now, all you have to do is roll it and have fun, right? But, wait! Most bowling balls come undrilled. You can’t play with that, can you? Yes, you have to get it drilled, definitely! So, what do you need to know about bowling ball drilling? What it is? What are the precautions? Well, don’t you worry! Here’s everything you need to know.

What Exactly is Bowling Ball Drilling?

In case you have no idea what is the drilling of bowling ball means, then hear me out. The term bowling ball drilling simply means where and how the finger holes are mapped out on the balls for drilling so that players can grip them to swing and roll. The drilling is also related to the bowling ball locator pin as well as the mass bias marker.

What you need to know before bowling ball drilling?

Drilling is an important and unavoidable part of bowling balls. Without that, you can’t grip or swing and release a ball. But have you ever wondered how a bowling ball is drilled? If you aren’t aware of that, you should know a few things before getting your bowling ball drilled.

There are a lot of factors that are taken into consideration before drilling a ball. But how much of that is up to you? Well, a lot.

The bowling ball manufacturers often include a recommended drilling spec sheet in the box. They do it especially for the balls that are technologically advanced. This gives the bowlers as well as the pro shop some clear ideas for the drilling layout options. So when you purchase a bowling ball online, make sure your bowling ball comes with that drilling layouts spec sheet.

You must know that without an accurate and appropriate drilling layout, you won’t see the expected ball reaction that goes with the lane conditions. Without the correct drilling layout, your delivery technique will get messed up as well.

Besides the drilling layout being paramount for superior ball motion, it is also a major factor for the player to know the combination of coverstock, core, and the construction  of bowling ball. Before you choose the best drilling layout option, make sure you know all about your ball and if you’re not doing it yourself, don’t forget to tell the pro shop the ball specifications.

Make sure the layout you choose fits you properly. Remember, a strong layout allows a longer skid length in the front end of the lane. The back end motion is more angular and stronger. Oppositely, a weak layout will get your ball out of the skid phase during its motion sooner than a strong layout bowling ball. On top, your ball will show a mild backend reaction.

If you’re a high or medium to high rev player, you will like weaker layouts more as it doesn’t snap unpredictably on the back ends. If you’re a moderate to low rev player, then go for a stronger layout for your bowling ball.

Things to Do Before Drilling a Bowling Ball?

After you’ve selected the right bowling ball for you, it’s time to prep yourself and your ball for drilling. So, what to do before drilling a bowling ball? Well, first and foremost you need to choose a hole configuration. You can go for either the conventional grip, the fingertip grip, or the semi-fingertip grip. You can also select the other kinds of grips, but these three are the most available and common ones.

Once the configuration is picked, it’s time to measure your span, which is the distance between the two fingers you will insert and hold your ball with and your thumb’s base. The measurements will be based on the hole configuration you’ve chosen. Pro shop operators will measure it with a compass or calipers. Remember the two fingers you will use to hold the ball, your fingers will go only past the tips, not all the way to the base. So make sure the span of your fingers is measured properly.

The next step is to decide on an angle. You need to know the angle that best fits your hand is comfortable for gripping and swinging. If the holes in the bowling ball are angled more to the forward, the ball will be released from higher and it will have more lift. This will happen because you will have your fingers inside until the last second of the release. So based on your comfortability, strengths, and weaknesses, you have to decide on the angle.

How to Drill a Bowling Ball?

All the things you need to do before drilling a bowling ball are usually handled by the pro shop operators. But if you’re doing it yourself at home, then the measurements are also your job. Once that is done, it’s time to get ready for the main part, which is the ball drilling process. Here’s how it is done in a pro shop:

First of all, they clamp the bowling ball tightly in a place so it doesn’t roll or move during the drilling. If the ball moves, even just a bit, the drilling will be uneven and as a result, non-usable.

Secondly, they mark your chosen configuration on the bowling ball surface with an erasable pencil, chalk, or marker. Knowing your angle and span, they place the marks accordingly to drill the holes so they match when you hold it with your hand. As the holes are permanent, they double-check everything on this step.

Thirdly, they select the drill bit based on the girth of your fingers and the coverstock type of the bowling ball. The drill bits come in different sizes and they will use the one that best fits with the measurements. After that, they attach the drill bits to the bowling ball drilling machine (not the normal drilling machines).

Once the machine is prepared, time to drill the thumb hole slowly at the angle you asked for. This needs to be done very carefully as the drill shouldn’t be too deep. Our thumbs have more girth than our other fingers. So, once the thumb hole is drilled, it’s time to switch the bits for the other two finger holes. The depth needs to be checked on this step as well.

After this step, the holes will have sharp and rough edges and that will make holding the ball painful and extremely uncomfortable. This is why on the last step, the finger holes are sanded with another drill bit that sands and smooths the holes on the inside as well as right on the top. Some pro shops even use a bit of ball polish to do this and then wipes it with a microfiber towel.

And, that’s how you the pro shops drill a bowling ball. If you have all the equipment at your garage, I will say, go ahead give it a try and see how good you’re at it!

What is drilling protection on a bowling ball?

Many online and offline bowling ball distributors and pro shop operators offer you a kind of insurance for your precious ball, and it’s called the ‘drilling protection’. This protection basically allows you to have a replacement for your bowling ball in case it gets damaged or cracked during the drilling process. You never know, but sometimes bowling pro shop operators can unintentionally drill your bowling balls in a way that may cause cracking or breaking of the balls’ outer coverstocks. This completely wrecks a bowling ball and makes it unusable for playing. That’s why drilling protection ensures drilling safety for your bowling ball if things go south. It also lets you enjoy a new ball as a replacement/compensation instead of purchasing another one and wasting more money.

How long does it take to drill bowling ball?

It is difficult to specify how long it takes to drill a bowling ball. Most of the time it depends on the gear and the pro shop operators themselves, their machines, and other equipment. But if you want an estimation, well, from start to finish, the entire process takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. If an expert pro shop operator is doing it, then it may take 15 to 20 minutes. If you’re doing it for the first time and not aware of the measurement, spans, and configuration, then it is most likely to take longer (an hour or so). If you already know the details and can tell them what and how you want your ball to be drilled, then it shouldn’t take long. Whether you’re doing it yourself or getting it done in a pro shop, I would suggest you have an hour of your time free.

Can you drill your own holes in a bowling ball?

Are you planning to drill your bowling ball yourself? If yes, then I’m assuming you already have the tools you need to do that. But do keep in mind, how risky it can be. Just a minor mistake can completely ruin a ball. Usually, the process of drilling new holes in a bowling ball is done and micromanaged by professionals, and

trust me it is the best approach. However, if you really want to do it yourself and willing to risk it, then go for it. If it is an expensive one, be extra careful. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a DIY project. Plus, it will save you some bucks. So yes, it is very much possible to do it yourself!


Now that you know every piece of information you needed to know about the bowling ball drilling process, take your ball out of the box and go to your nearby pro shop right now! If you want to do it yourself, you know the deal as well. Hopefully, this article was helpful enough for you to understand everything about drilling holes in the bowling ball. Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!


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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