Article Contents

  • 1. What’s my ball limit?
  • 2. What do I know about the environment?
    • 2.1. What do I know about the oil pattern?
    • 2.2. What do I know about the lanes themselves?
    • 2.3. What do I know about the field/format?
  • 3. Narrowing it down
    • 3.1. What are my favorite balls?
    • 3.2. Are there any shape gaps?
    • 3.3. Is there room for anything condition-specific?
  • 4. Making the decision

In June, I introduced the idea of building your bowling ball toolshed, equating bowling balls as the tools you use on the lanes. Like the tools in your toolshed, you don’t necessarily need every one of them for every job. Once you’ve accumulated more than five or six balls, you might need to limit the number of balls you bring with you to any given event.

If your collection of bowling balls is in the double digits, you should almost certainly reduce that number for a tournament, unless you’re a touring pro. If your ball lineup is well setup, you probably don’t need more than eight balls—or even six—the vast majority of the time.

Narrowing a dozen or more bowling balls down to the six you’ll need for a tournament can be a daunting process. To help simplify it, I’ve put together a step-by-step process that I’ve used for years when helping Team Canada’s athletes prepare for international competitions.

What’s my ball limit?

The first thing to decide is how many balls you are going to be bringing to the tournament. This limit might be imposed by the rules of the event. This is the case with collegiate events, as well as some professional/world events. You might also be limited by your mode of travel and budget. For example, flying to a tournament often limits you to six bowling balls, unless you’ve got airline status for a third bag, or don’t mind shelling out the extra cash to bring extra equipment.

Finally, if none of these pose a restriction on you, then you should impose a limit on yourself. If you’re smart about selecting the balls for your event, you really shouldn’t need more than eight balls, unless you’re competing at the highest level of competition. I touched on the reasoning behind this limitation in July’s article about axis control: you want to limit the options in your mind. Too many balls can become a distraction that makes ...

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Tyrel Rose

About Tyrel Rose

Tyrel Rose is Bowling This Month's Director of Content. He is also currently the Head Coach for Team Canada, with over 20 years of experience coaching bowlers of all levels. Tyrel is an NCCP Competition Development level and USBC Bronze Certified coach, and a former Canadian national champion.