Close this search box.

How Many Holes In A Bowling Ball?

How Many Holes In A Bowling Ball - Bowlingview

Bowling is a globally popular sport characterized by its unique blend of precision, power, and strategic planning. It is played by rolling a ball down a narrow lane to knock over pins, with the aim of achieving the highest score possible.

The sport is as much about technique and skill as it is about strength, requiring players to master the subtle art of throwing the ball accurately and consistently.

In regards to the bowling ball, one of the most frequently asked questions is about the number of holes in it.

Traditionally, bowling balls have three holes: one each for the thumb and middle fingers and one for the ring finger. However, the rules of the sport permit variations in this configuration, allowing for a range of two to five holes. Each configuration has unique implications for the ball’s control, rotation, and trajectory, making this a key consideration for any bowler.

The Standard Bowling Ball

In the realm of bowling, understanding the design and configuration of the standard bowling ball imparts a competitive edge, enabling players to maximize their performance.

This section delves into the intricacies of the standard bowling ball, providing a comprehensive overview of its structure, functionality, and the critical role it plays in the game’s strategy and outcome.

Explanation of the traditional configuration of holes in a bowling ball

The conventional configuration of a standard bowling ball consists of three holes. These holes are typically arranged in a triangular pattern and are designed to suit the bowler’s middle and ring fingers, as well as the thumb.

This traditional layout offers a comfortable grip, allowing bowlers to control their swing and release with greater precision. Each hole in this setup serves a unique purpose: the thumb hole offers stability, whereas the finger holes provide leverage for spinning or hooking the ball.

Importance and purpose of each hole

Each hole in the standard bowling ball configuration plays a significant role in the game. Firstly, the thumb hole offers stability. When a bowler starts their approach and swings the ball, the thumb hole allows for control and steadiness.

Without this stability, consistent delivery would be nearly impossible. Secondly, the other two holes, designed for the middle and ring fingers, provide leverage for spin and twist, commonly called ‘hook’.

The finger holes are the driving factor behind the specific movement of the ball, allowing a bowler to manipulate the ball’s trajectory and knock down more pins. Understanding the function of each hole can drastically improve a player’s performance.

Bowling Ball Regulations

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) has introduced several changes to bowling ball regulations over time, impacting the number and placement of holes in the equipment. Prior to 2020, bowlers could use balls with up to five holes, including a thumb hole and holes for up to four fingers.

However, recent amendments by USBC, effective August 1, 2020, determined that a bowling ball could only have up to three holes, specifically designed for the thumb and two fingers. Any additional holes, often referred to as balance holes, are now considered illegal in certified competition.

The USBC asserts that these changes are aimed at maintaining a fair playing field and ensuring the sport’s integrity. As the sport evolves and technology advances, the regulations will likely continue to adapt to ensure a balance between skill and technology in the game. Bowlers, therefore, must stay updated with the rules to align their play style with the regulations and maintain their competitive edge.

Custom Bowling Balls

Custom bowling balls offer a unique opportunity for bowlers to enhance their performance, as they can be tailored to the individual’s grip, style, and comfort. The following section will delve into the impact these personalized bowling balls have on a player’s overall performance.

Variations in Hole Configurations of Custom Bowling Balls

Custom bowling balls offer a tailored experience for bowlers, enhancing their comfort, control, and ultimately, performance. They can be drilled to fit a player’s hand perfectly, assuring a consistent grip every time.

Read Also> The Pros and Cons of Custom Bowling Balls

In terms of hole variations, while most balls feature the standard three-hole pattern (two finger holes and one thumb hole), there are alternative configurations.

Some bowlers opt for a two-hole ball, eliminating the thumb hole entirely and relying on two fingers for control. This style, often used by those who prefer a “fingertip grip,” provides more revs and potential hook but can be harder to control. Others might add an additional hole for the ring finger, providing extra stability.

There’s also the Sarge Easter grip, where the middle finger uses a conventional grip, and the ring finger uses a fingertip grip. This unusual configuration is favored by those struggling with excessive hook and needing greater control.

Each configuration has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice largely depends on the bowler’s personal style, comfort, and desired ball motion. It’s important for players to experiment with different configurations to find what works best for them.

Advantages/disadvantages of different hole configurations

Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of different hole configurations, the standard three-hole pattern is the most common, providing balance and predictable control. However, it may not offer as much hook potential.

The two-hole configuration, on the other hand, is favored for its potential to generate more revs and a greater degree of hook. This could lead to higher scores due to the increased pin action. The downside is that it requires more skill to control the ball effectively.

The addition of a hole for the ring finger brings extra stability, which is advantageous for maintaining consistent delivery. This may decrease the potential for mistakes but could limit the flexibility in ball motion.

Lastly, the Sarge Easter grip offers a unique blend of control and hook potential through its unconventional hole configuration. While it can help combat excessive hooks, it might take time to adjust to this style, and it may not suit all bowlers.

In conclusion, the best configuration is largely dependent on the bowler’s skill level, style of play, and what they find most comfortable.

Impact on Performance

The number and placement of holes in a bowling ball can dramatically impact a player’s performance on the lanes. These configurations play a crucial role in determining the ball’s equilibrium, which influences its rotation, speed, and trajectory upon delivery.

For instance, a standard three-hole pattern provides stability and control, making it ideal for beginners who are still mastering their throws. On the other hand, a two-hole configuration can generate more rotations and a greater degree of hook, potentially leading to higher scores but requiring greater skill to control effectively.

Additional holes, such as one for the ring finger, can enhance stability, promoting a more consistent delivery. However, this might limit the ball’s motion flexibility. Consequently, bowlers need to carefully consider their skill level, style of play, and comfort when selecting their bowling ball’s hole configuration.


In summary, the number and arrangement of holes in a bowling ball significantly impact a player’s performance, affecting the ball’s equilibrium, rotation, speed, and trajectory.

While a standard three-hole pattern offers stability and control, ideal for beginners, a two-hole configuration can produce more rotations and a higher degree of hook, though it requires more skill to control effectively. Additional holes can assist in enhancing stability but may limit the ball’s motion flexibility.

Understanding the influence of hole configuration in a bowling ball is crucial for bowlers at all levels. It not only helps in optimizing performance but also aids in tailoring a playstyle suited to the bowler’s comfort and skill level.

While the perfect configuration varies from player to player, an informed decision can lead to improved control, consistency, and potentially higher scores. Therefore, this understanding is vital for any bowler wishing to advance their game.

FAQs About How Many Holes In A Bowling Ball?

In the following section, we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about bowling balls, covering topics ranging from customization and hole drilling to the impact of hole size and number on gameplay.

This information will provide valuable insight for both novice and seasoned players seeking to enhance their understanding and improve their performance in the game.

The standard bowling ball used for ten-pin bowling typically has 3 holes. These are made for gripping purposes: two are for the fingers and the third is for the thumb.

The gripping holes in a bowling ball are used by the bowler to hold the ball securely. These holes provide control over the ball while delivering it down the bowling lanes.

Until recently, bowling balls could have up to 5 holes, including the weight hole, an extra hole in the bowling ball, intended to correct the weight of the ball.

However, a rule change by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) in 2020 now restricts the number of holes in a bowling ball to 3 for gripping the ball.

Before the USBC rule change, an extra hole in the bowling ball called a weight hole or balance hole, was allowed.

This hole was not used for gripping but to adjust the weight distribution in the ball, giving bowlers more control over its movement.

That’s probably a ball used in duckpin bowling or candlepin bowling, two variations of the game where the balls do not have any gripping holes.

In these games, the balls are smaller and lighter, so they can be easily held and thrown without the need for holes.

Yes, many serious players choose to have their bowling balls custom drilled.

Bowling ball manufacturers can drill the bowling ball gripping holes to fit your hand perfectly, contributing to a more comfortable and effective grip.

Bowling ball gripping holes are made with a specialized drill. This allows the holes to be made accurately, ensuring that they are the correct size and in the correct position for the player’s fingers and thumb.

Yes, the number and the layout of holes in a bowling ball can significantly affect a player’s game.

The positions of the holes decide how you grip the bowling ball, and that can greatly influence the direction, spin, and speed of the ball.

It depends on the individual bowler. Some may find it easier to use a ball with fewer holes, while others might prefer the traditional three-hole pattern for more control.

Generally, beginner players or casual players at bowling alleys might find a house ball, usually a polyester, straight ball with three holes, easier to use.

There is no fixed standard size for the holes in a bowling ball. It often depends on the size of the player’s fingers.

Some bowlers even use finger inserts in the holes for a comfortable and firm grip.