unbiased bowling logo

Unveil Your Bowling!

The Ban on Urethane Bowling Balls: A Look into the Why



Bowling, a beloved sport enjoyed by millions worldwide, has seen its fair share of technological advancements over the years. One such development was the introduction of urethane bowling balls, which quickly gained popularity among both amateur and professional bowlers. However, this revolution came to an abrupt halt when urethane bowling balls were banned from competitive play. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind this ban and explore the impact it had on the sport.

The Rise of Urethane Bowling Balls:

Urethane bowling balls burst onto the scene in the late 1970s, offering bowlers a new level of control and predictability on the lanes. Unlike the traditional rubber or polyester balls, urethane balls had a higher friction coefficient, allowing players to achieve a more consistent hook motion. This enhanced control and increased pin carry made urethane bowling balls a game-changer, and many professionals quickly adopted them as their weapon of choice.

The Ban:

The governing bodies of bowling, such as the United States Bowling Congress (USBC), periodically review equipment standards to ensure fairness and maintain the integrity of the game. In the early 1990s, concerns began to arise regarding the dominance of urethane bowling balls and their impact on the sport.

When PBA banned urethane bowling ball?

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) did not ban urethane bowling balls. Urethane balls have been allowed in PBA competition for many years and continue to be a popular choice among professional bowlers. However, the PBA has implemented certain regulations and restrictions regarding the use of different types of bowling balls to maintain fairness and competition within the sport.

Which urethane Bowling Balls are banned by PBA?

One of the primary reasons behind the ban on urethane bowling balls was their excessive hook potential, which gave bowlers an unfair advantage over their opponents. The high friction provided by urethane covers allowed players to generate immense hook potential, making it easier to strike and increasing the overall scoring pace of the game.

why urethane bowling balls are banned

Another concern was the impact of urethane bowling balls on lane conditions. The aggressive nature of urethane covers led to increased oil absorption, altering the oil patterns and making it challenging to maintain consistent lane conditions for all participants. This deviation from traditional lane conditions threatened the integrity of the game and forced the governing bodies to take action.

The Aftermath:

The ban on urethane bowling balls came into effect in the mid-1990s, with professional tournaments and leagues enforcing the new regulation. Bowlers were required to switch to alternative materials such as reactive resin, a material with reduced friction and hook potential compared to urethane.

The ban on urethane bowling balls had both positive and negative effects on the sport. On one hand, it leveled the playing field, ensuring fair competition for all bowlers. It also sparked innovation in ball technology, leading to the development of new materials that enhanced playability while maintaining a balance between skill and equipment performance.

However, the ban also meant that many bowlers had to adapt and adjust their playing styles. Those who had become accustomed to the hook potential of urethane balls had to relearn their approach and adapt to the new equipment regulations. This transition period brought challenges, but it also showcased the resilience and adaptability of bowlers.


The ban on urethane bowling balls was a necessary step to preserve the integrity and fairness of the sport. While these balls revolutionized the game with their superior hook potential, their dominance threatened to overshadow skill and technique. By implementing the ban, governing bodies sought to strike a balance between equipment performance and individual skill, ensuring a level playing field for all bowlers. Though the ban marked the end of an era, it also paved the way for new ball technologies and continued growth in the sport of bowling.

About the author