How to Drill a Bowling Ball: A Beginner’s Guide

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How to Drill a Bowling Ball A Beginner's Guide

How to Drill a Bowling Ball: A Beginner’s Guide

Bowling is a fun game to play with friends and family. If you’re new to the game, you may need to learn that bowling balls need to be drilled to fit your hand correctly. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll teach you how to drill a bowling ball step by step.

Understanding the Basics of Drilling a Bowling Ball

Bowling is an exciting sport enjoyed by millions around the world. While the game itself is simple, a lot goes into selecting and caring for your equipment. One critical component of a bowler’s gear is the bowling ball. The way a ball is drilled can have a significant impact on your performance on the lanes. This article will cover the basics of drilling a bowling ball, from selecting the right ball to caring for it after drilling.

Choosing the Right Bowling Ball

Before you can drill a bowling ball, you must select the right one. There are many factors to consider when choosing a bowling ball, including weight, coverstock, and finger holes.

Weight of the ball

The ball’s weight is one of the most crucial factors to consider. The ball should be heavy enough to provide momentum but not so heavy that it is difficult to control. The most common weights for bowling balls are between 12 and 16 pounds.


The coverstock is the ball’s outer layer and can significantly impact its performance. Different coverstocks provide varying levels of grip and friction, so choosing one that matches your playing style is essential.

Finger Holes

The finger holes are drilled into the ball to allow the bowler to grip it properly. The placement and size of the holes can significantly impact the bowler’s grip and overall control of the ball.

Pre-Drilling Considerations

Before drilling a ball, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure a proper fit and optimal performance.

Fitting the Ball

The ball must fit the bowler’s hand correctly. An improperly fitting ball can cause pain or discomfort and negatively impact the bowler’s performance.

Measuring the Ball

To ensure the ball is drilled correctly, it must be measured to determine the placement of the finger holes.

Drilling Process

Once you’ve selected the right ball and measured it for proper placement, it’s time to drill the holes. There are many layout options, and the holes’ placement and angle can significantly impact the ball’s motion on the lane.

Layout Options

Some of the most common layout options include the pin above the fingers, the pin below the fingers, and the pin in the middle of the ball. Each layout will provide a different ball motion and require a unique drilling approach.

Drilling the holes

Once you’ve chosen a layout, it’s time to drill the holes. The drilling process involves using specialized equipment to create precise holes in the ball for the fingers and thumb.

Post-Drilling Adjustments

After drilling, a few adjustments may need to be made to the ball to ensure optimal performance.

Plugging, Re-Plugging, and Re-Drilling

If the ball does not feel comfortable or is not performing as desired, it may need to be plugged and re-drilled. Plugging involves filling the existing holes with specialized material and then drilling new holes in the desired locations.

Sanding the ball

Sanding the ball is another post-drilling adjustment that can improve its performance. Sanding the ball helps remove imperfections and smooth out the surface, providing a more consistent ball motion on the lane.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are essential to keeping your bowling ball performing at its best.

Cleaning the ball

Cleaning the ball after each use is crucial to remove any dirt or oil buildup that can negatively impact its performance. A specialized bowling ball cleaner and microfiber cloth are the most effective ways to clean the ball.

Resurfacing the ball

Over time, the ball’s surface can become worn and lose its grip. Resurfacing the ball involves using a specialized machine to remove a small surface layer, restoring its grip and performance.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Bowlers should avoid a few common mistakes when drilling a ball.

Choosing the Wrong Weight

Selecting the wrong weight for the ball can negatively impact your control and performance on the lane.

Improperly fitting the ball

A ball that does not fit correctly can cause pain or discomfort, making it difficult to perform at your best.

Neglecting Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your ball are essential to keep it performing at its best. Neglecting maintenance can lead to reduced performance and potentially costly repairs. You need to understand some of the basics before drilling a bowling ball. Drilling involves removing material from the ball to create holes for your fingers and thumb. The process also involves determining the best layout for the ball, which refers to placing the finger holes on the ball.

Choosing the right equipment

To drill a bowling ball, you’ll need some specialized equipment. The equipment includes:

  • a drill press.
  • a drill bit.
  • a measuring tape.
  • A bowling ball jig
  • a bowling ball drill bit.

It’s essential to choose high-quality equipment to ensure the best results.

Choosing the Right Layout

The layout of a bowling ball affects its performance, so it’s essential to choose the right one. There are several types of layouts, including symmetrical, asymmetrical, and pin-in layouts. It’s best to consult with a professional to determine which layout is best for your bowling style.

Drilling a Bowling Ball: Step by Step

Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to learn how to drill a bowling ball. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Measure your hand.

The first step is to measure your hand using a measuring tape. Measure the span of your hand from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger. This will help determine the proper distance between the finger holes.

Step 2: Mark the ball

Next, mark the ball with a marker where you want the finger holes to be. It’s essential to ensure that the holes are evenly spaced and placed in the right location for your hand.

Step 3: Place the ball in the jig

Place the ball in the bowling ball jig, which holds the ball securely in place during the drilling process.

Step 4: Drill the holes

Using the drill press and drill bit, drill the finger holes into the ball. Going slowly and steadily is essential to ensuring a clean and precise cut.

Step 5: Sand the holes

After drilling the holes, use sandpaper to smooth out the edges and remove any burrs. This will ensure a comfortable fit for your fingers.

Step 6: Test the fit

Test the fit of the ball by placing your fingers and thumb into the holes. The ball should fit comfortably and snugly without being too tight or loose.

Step 7: Fine-Tune the Fit

If necessary, make any adjustments to the finger holes to ensure the best fit. This may involve sanding down the edges or drilling the holes slightly more prominently.


Drilling a bowling ball may seem daunting, but it’s necessary to achieve optimal performance and comfort on the lanes. Whether you choose to drill the ball yourself or have a professional do it for you, it’s essential to take the time to correctly measure and mark the ball to ensure a precise fit. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can confidently drill your bowling ball and enjoy the benefits of a customized fit.




How long does it take to drill a bowling ball?

The drilling process usually takes around 30 minutes to an hour.

Can I drill my bowling ball at home?

It’s possible to drill your bowling ball at home, but it’s best to consult a professional to ensure the best results.

What is the best layout for a bowling ball?

The best layout for a bowling ball depends on your bowling style. Consult with a professional to determine which layout is perfect.

What if the finger holes are too small or too large?

If the finger holes are too small or too large, they can be adjusted by sanding down the edges or drilling the holes slightly more prominently.

How often should I have my bowling ball drilled?

Having your bowling ball drilled every year or whenever you feel that it no longer fits your hand comfortably is recommended.

Can I drill more than three finger holes in a bowling ball?

Yes, drilling more than three finger holes in a bowling ball is possible, but it’s not recommended as it can affect the ball’s performance.

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