For most people, choosing a bowling ball is a simple process. They look through the racks of balls at their local bowling alley, feeling for weight and finger hole placement, eventually selecting the one most comfortable for them. It isn’t this easy for experienced bowlers. They know the fit of a ball to their hand can make or break a game. Knowing how to drill a bowling ball means having a custom fit ball that matches an individuals own grip and throwing style.

How to Drill a Bowling Ball

A Word of Warning

Drilling a bowling ball requires a certain level of expertise. An inexperienced person can easily ruin a ball. For this reason, many people choose to have pro shops drill their balls for them. However, this doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t learn how to drill a bowling ball.

Bowling is like any other sport. The more a person knows about their equipment, the more proficient they become. Being able to drill a bowling ball deepens a person’s understanding of bowling, and many people enjoy selecting and fitting their own gear.

While this article will provide basic information about bowling ball drilling, it’s advisable to find someone with experience beforehand to help out. Learning to drill a bowling ball takes practice. Even a little mistake can end up ruining a ball.

Getting Started

Before drilling a bowling ball, a person has to decide what kind of finger grip he or she likes. There are three basic bowling grips: the conventional grip, the fingertip grip, and the semi-fingertip grip. In the conventional grip, the fingers and thumb are inserted up to the second knuckle. It is easy to control and is the standard configuration found in most bowling alleys. A ball drilled for a fingertip grip allows the fingers and thumb to only be inserted up to the first joint. The semi-fingertip grip sits somewhere between the conventional grip and the finger-tip grip; it allows the fingers and thumb to be inserted up to the midway point between the first and second joint.

Why Choose One Grip Over the Other?

Deciding on a grip comes down to control, experience, and preference. The conventional grip is easy to control making it a good choice for novice bowlers. The fingertip grip is more difficult to control but offers power, precision, and spin for those who master it. Many experienced bowlers prefer this grip. The semi-fingertip is a compromise between the two. It offers more power and spin than the conventional grip but isn’t as hard to learn as the fingertip grip.

Measuring Finger Span

Once a grip has been decided on, it’s time to drill, right? Not just yet. A person first needs to know where to drill. This is where a measuring ball comes in handy. A measuring ball is a specialized tool used to measure finger span. It features adjustable finger and thumb holes that can also be adjusted for diameter. To obtain a measurement, a person simply places their thumb in the thumb hole and then lays their middle and ring finger along the ball. Drilling points can then be easily marked with masking tape or a marker.


Once all the measurements are made, it’s time to drill the bowling ball. The first step is to secure the ball into the bowling ball drill. Next, the angle at which to drill must be decided. This is based on personal preference, but keep in mind that the more forward the angle, the more lift when the ball is released. After this, choose the correct size drill bit, double check everything, and begin drilling. Go slow and keep a close watch on the depth. After drilling is complete, the holes should be smoothed out using a specialized sanding attachment.

Is Bowling Ball Drilling Really That Easy?

Different bowling balls have different centers of gravity depending upon coverstock materials and design. Drilling removes material from a ball and can change the center of gravity. Getting the most performance out of a bowling ball requires understanding how drilling affects a ball’s balance. Remember the word of warning at the beginning? Keep it in mind. This article is only a basic overview of bowling ball drilling. It is recommended to learn from someone knowledgeable before attempting to drill a bowling ball alone. However, with a little practice a person can easily be drilling bowling balls on his or her own in no time.

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