How much should your ball weigh? The traditional thought is, if you are a big burly man you throw a 16 pound ball and if you are a smaller man you throw a 15 pounder.   If you are a lower average lady bowler then of course you throw a 10 or 12 pound ball. If you are a REAL bowling female, then you have to get up there with the men and throw 15 or even 16 pound rocks so you can knock those big heavy pins down. 
      Well times have changed and so has ball technology. Bowling balls are so good now at knocking down pins that you no longer have to choose the heaviest  ball you can pick up, in order to carry the pins. I am of course talking about the new high tech balls that you buy in your pro shop, not the house balls that the open bowlers play with.  Today's 14 pound balls can actually carry the pins better, for some people, than 15 and 16 pound balls. There are several pros on tour that have dropped down to 14 pound balls and I am sure there are more to come. Today's 15 and 16 lb balls actually "hit" too hard. They often don't deflect enough in their path through the pins. This lack of deflection causes lots of 9 pins, 4 pins, 8 pins and even 4-9 splits (right handed) on what looks like great pocket hits.  Contrary to what most people think, its not the sheer weight of the ball that knocks down the pins but a combination of forces, with the most important being the friction between the ball and the lane surface. This friction gives the ball a drive that is much stronger than the sheer inertia of a heavier ball. For instance if you oiled the lane all the way to the pins, where the ball could not get any traction with the lane, a 16 LB ball would bounce off of the head pin like a 10 LB ball on a normal lane condition. The 16 LB ball would have a hard time even carrying the 5 pin, must less the whole rack.
      For a lot of people, 14LB balls will be the "sweet weight" . The weight  that carries best. The weight that is easiest to control. The weight that is easiest on their bodies. 14LB balls do react differently than heaver balls. 14LB balls are easier to throw harder if you need to. They also hook more than heaver balls. The light weight allows them to change direction quicker. Just as a light weight sports car can change directions faster than a big heavy car. You will also throw the 14 with more revs with the same amount of effort. When you first make the switch to 14's you may start to leave more 10 pins. That's usually just because you are throwing the ball a little too hard. The ball is skidding a little past the ideal break point. 
All you have to do is slow it down a little and you will be stringing strikes.
     So should everyone go out and buy 14LB balls and throw the 16s in the river?  Well no of course not. The right weight ball depends on the bowler. A high speed hi rev player throwing 16LB equipment would most likely not be able to adjust to the lesser weight of the 14. That player would throw the 14 too fast and it would skid right through the breakpoint in most cases. But a player with medium speed and revs could in most cases adapt to the weight of a 14. I find that most people throw the 14LB balls a little harder at first, but then after they get used to the weight, the ball speed drops back closer to normal.  If you are a smaller person, with a body weight closer to 150 than 250, there is a side benefit to throwing a 14LB ball. With a 14LB ball being less of a percentage of your body weight, your timing becomes a little less critical. One of the things that can happen to us when our timing gets off, is the ball is out of sync with our bodies. Then the ball's inertia can literally pull us off line. The lighter ball will do that a little less. 
     Who should throw what weight? I think to decide that we need to look at the bowler, the style of play and the bowlers wrist strength. If you are big strong guy that muscles the ball a lot then you need to be throwing 15s or 16s. If you are an average guy with average speed and revs, then a 14 may be best for you. I believe that the vast majority of women should be throwing 14LBs or less. The first thing I check when trying to pick a ball weight is the persons wrist strength. I have them hold the ball down by their side with their wrist relaxed. Then I ask them to cup their wrist forward. They should be able to hold that position for a slow count to 10 or the ball is too heavy. This goes for men and women. I have seen a lot of men and women that could fire a 15 or even 16LB ball down the lane but can not pass my wrist test with them.  If you can't pass the wrist test, then you can't have a good strong release or much versatility in releases.  I know there are a lot of senior bowlers out there that would be much happier with a 14lb ball, but are struggling along with a 15 or 16 because they are afraid they would loose too much carry.  Fear no more. The ball technology is here today. Just visit your local pro shop.
  For more info and some helpful photos of this tip and others visit my web site at www.bowl4fun.com .
I can be contacted through email at rclifton@triad.rr.com or through Creekside Lanes 336-771-9800.