Clarifying rules about in-competition surface adjustments to bowling balls

    10/28/08

    USBC Equipment Specifications and Certification

    By Gene J. Kanak, USBC Communications

    USBCLogoRed_small.jpg Due to recent confusion, the United States Bowling Congress is clarifying its rules regarding the use of bowling ball cleaners, polishes and surface-altering abrasives before, during and after USBC certified league and tournament competition.

    During competition, bowlers may apply bowling ball cleaners and polishes by hand in the bowling area only; they cannot be applied outside of the bowling area (i.e. in the pro shop, locker room or equipment paddock) or with the use of a ball spinner. Cleaners and polishes used during competition must contain no solids or abrasives and be found on the list of acceptable Commercial Ball Cleaners/Polishes found here.

    During competition, bowlers also may use bowling ball cleaning and polishing machines, such as the Lustre King or Storm Surface Factory, provided they do not use any of the surface-altering abrasive options those machines may offer.

    Abrasive pads, such as sandpaper, Abralon or Scotch Brite, only may be used before or after competition, and any alterations made using these materials must be made to the entire surface of a bowling ball. Bowlers are not allowed to alter specific areas of a bowling ball's surface (i.e. the track area, flare lines, etc) without altering the rest of the ball's surface in the same fashion.

    Cleaners and polishes containing solids or abrasives may be used before or after competition provided the substances are included on the list of acceptable Products Containing Solids or Abrasives found here.

    Individual leagues and tournaments reserve the right to place additional restrictions on when and how bowling ball surface adjustments can be made.

    For instance, during the televised finals of U.S. Women's Open and Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour events, ball representatives can sometimes be seen altering the surfaces of players' bowling balls between matches. During those events, each television game is considered a separate round of competition, so bowlers are allowed to alter the surfaces of their bowling balls between each of those one-game rounds. This is not the case during league play where all games in a series are considered part of the same round.

    USBC encourages bowlers to consult league officers or tournament officials before making surface adjustments to their bowling balls.