Digging into the Effect of Core Type on Bowling Ball Performance


While the coverstock is usually going to be the biggest consideration when buying a new bowling ball, you can’t ignore the fact that the core type is still an important aspect to keep in mind. The core type affects how the ball builds momentum once it leaves your hands and moves down the lane towards the pins. Below is a short guide on the different types of core types you’re likely going to run into while searching for a new bowling ball, so you can figure out which one is best for you.

Pancake Cores

If you could call any core type a “traditional” core, this would be it. It consists of a small disc, which can look like an actual pancake or like a round puck, that sits on one portion of the ball to counteract the loss in overall mass that comes from drilling holes into the ball. Pancakes weights are still common on a lot of bowling balls today, since they provide a very reliable and steady momentum on standard lane conditions.

If you’re in the market for a basic bowling ball that doesn’t require any special considerations, then a pancake weight core is a great choice. On the other hand, if you want something that can deliver a higher level of performance and give you more options when it comes to drilling your finger holes, then you’re definitely going to want to look into other core types.

Symmetrical Cores

This was the first major innovation in core types, where manufacturers experimented with different types of symmetrical geometric shapes to keep the weight consistent while also influencing the overall performance of the ball. Perhaps the most iconic symmetrical core type is the lightbulb core, which does in fact look like a lightbulb. By using a dynamic core configuration, the ball is able to build up momentum at different paces, so that you can achieve a higher hook potential with different types of coverstocks.

Another benefit of symmetrical cores is that they allow for more finger hole configurations without affecting the weight of the ball. If you want to drill for more backend performance or more overall power on a smooth roll, then you can set up your ball for these and know that you’re not likely to sacrifice a significant portion of its mass and create a different outcome.

Asymmetrical Cores

These types of cores are the evolution of the attempts to modify and enhance performance made with symmetrical cores. Many manufacturers use non symmetrical geometric shapes, such as a cylinder with semi-circular ridges along the longer portion, to achieve a higher or lower radius of gyration. The idea is that the design influences the way the ball spins as it experiences friction against the lane, but in a more complex way that is based off some serious mathematical calculations.

One of the potential downsides for these types of cores is that there can be an increased risk of drilling into them when you create your finger holes. This means that standard finger hole configurations can have a different effect on the ball, which requires more effort in compensating once you start playing.

Marketing Influences

It’s important to note the some manufacturers push for changes in asymmetrical core designs in order to stand out for marketing purposes. It’s been a growing trend in the industry for manufacturers to create cores that feature exciting, provocative, or signature designs that they can include in advertisements and other materials.

The point is that these designs don’t necessarily add a significant advantage to performance, but they don’t compromise it either. You just need to remember that a bowling ball with a striking core design might simply be like that for the sake of appearances.

The Core Conclusion

Like with most aspects of choosing a bowling ball, the final choice in core type depends on your skill level and playing style. As a general rule of thumb, less experienced bowlers are going to want to stick with the more common and less complicated core types in order to keep the whole experience as simple and direct as possible.