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A plastic ball and two bowling pins.

A plastic ball and two bowling pins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

USBC and FIQ regulation ten-pin bowling balls must weigh no more than 16 pounds (7.2 kg) (governing bodies do not regulate how light a bowling ball may be), have absolutely no metallic component materials used anywhere in their makeup, and have a maximum circumference of 27 inches (68.6 cm) directly in the equipment rules for tenpin bowling, which results in a maximum diameter of 8.59 inches (21.8 cm). The lightest ball generally available is the 6-pound (2.7 kg) weight, which is generally used by children. Ball weights between 12 and 16 pounds (5.4 and 7.3 kg) are common in adult league play. Since the physical dimensions of regulation balls remain the same, while the weight may differ, lighter balls are much less dense than heavier ones. Thus, balls under about 11 pounds will float when placed in water.

The behavior of a rolling ball on a surface is controlled by several factors, the most obvious being the bowler’s delivery. In the delivery, the bowler can use or fight (intentionally or unintentionally) the force of gravity. After the ball is on the surface of the lane, friction, gyroscopic inertia, and gravity all become factors. These environmental influences can be segregated as either lane conditions or ball characteristics. Additionally, a bowling ball is not an absolutely uniform sphere—the gripping holes (and sometimes a balance hole) alone make that impossible.

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