Looking at the Different Features of Bowling Ball Coverstock Materials


There was once a time when all bowling balls were made of the same materials, and basically had the same performance. Nowadays, bowling balls are made out of many different components that all influence how the ball handles on the lanes. Much of this innovation has to do with the coverstock, which is the outermost part of the ball. If you want to learn more about the different materials used to create the coverstocks of bowling balls, check out the breakdown below.

Polyester Coverstock

This is the cheapest and most common type of coverstock you are going to find in bowling balls today. Some manufacturers may refer to it as a plastic coverstock interchangeably, but it still means the same material. Polyester coverstocks are hard and pretty durable, making them a frequent choice for beginner bowling balls because they can withstand more of the beating that tends to come with learning how to bowl properly. They also tend to create bowling balls with a lower hook potential, since they are smoother and don’t create as much friction on the lane.

Urethane Coverstock

Urethane was the first major innovation in coverstock materials, as manufacturers in the 1980s were looking to create balls that could achieve a higher hook potential compared to the plastic bowling balls that were available at the time. Since the exterior is more porous than plastic, it is capable of building up more friction in the backend and moving into a wider arcing motion.

However, urethane does not absorb oil very much, so they still aren’t able to arch much once they come in contact with the oiled areas of the lane. Though better than plastic, they still create less of an entry angle, so the hook with these balls is much more gradual. Urethane balls are much less common on modern bowling balls, as reactive resin coverstocks provide much more friction and wider breaks.

Reactive Solid Coverstock

There are actually three different types of reactive resin coverstocks, with the reactive solid being the most common. You can usually find a reactive solid coverstock on mid-range and high-end balls geared towards achieving more intricate performance. Reactive solids achieve the most friction of the three, usually creating a more even roll down the lane that leads to an overall smooth break starting at the front of the lane. If you’re in the market for a ball with a higher hook rating where you can invest a good amount of time learning to control, this is the type of coverstock for you.

Reactive Pearl Coverstock

On the other end of the reactive resin scale is reactive Pearl coverstock, which is very similar in composition to the reactive solid except that it has an additional component that helps reduce its friction somewhat. Instead of causing the ball to fly straight down the lane, this modification shifts the break point further down the lane so it doesn’t start its hook until it moves into the oiled portion on the backend. This means that the ball will keep on its initial path for longer, then hook on a more aggressive arc once it approaches the pocket.

Reactive Hybrid Coverstock

Right in between the two is the reactive hybrid coverstock, which is literally a combination of the two types of compounds. These balls are able to achieve a more balanced hook that is still significantly stronger than polyester and urethane balls, breaking at a more manageable and even point in the lane. Reactive hybrid coverstocks are made to be more versatile and give you more options for approaching each frame without having to change balls. They can also have very distinct appearances, which is a side effect of the hybrid coating process.

Closing Thoughts

The difference in performance for each type of coverstock is very clear, making it much easier for players to choose a bowling ball that suits their needs. When you want to bowl straight down the lane, you might want to choose a polyester coverstock. When you need more hook and want to take a different approach to hitting the pocket, then you’ve got your choice of reactive resins. It all comes down to your preferences and the needs of your situation.