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Bowling Ball Vs Ping Pong Ball: The Major Differences

Bowling balls and ping pong balls are both spheres used in popular sports, but they have distinct differences when it comes to size, weight, materials, bounce, speed, and more. Here are some of the key ways bowling balls and ping pong balls differ:

  • Weight – Bowling balls are extremely heavy while ping pong balls are featherlight.
  • Size – Bowling balls are much larger in diameter than tiny ping pong balls.
  • Bounce – Bowling balls have little to no bounce, but ping pong balls bounce well.
  • Materials – Bowling balls use resin, ping pong balls use celluloid.
  • Spin – Ping pong balls can have great spin, not so much with bowling balls.
  • Speed – Bowling balls roll fast but ping pong balls reach faster speeds in the air.

In this article, we’ll explore all the details including construction, regulations, record speeds, maintenance, brands and more! We’ll also look at a comparison chart of their key metrics. Let’s get rolling!

Difference in Weight

The weight difference between bowling balls and ping pong balls is enormous! Regulation bowling balls weigh between 6 to 16 pounds. The heaviness allows them to crash powerfully into the pins. I remember struggling as a kid to throw my first 8 pound bowling ball – it felt like a giant boulder!

Meanwhile, ping pong balls are featherlight at just 0.09 ounces or 2.7 grams. You could juggle handfuls of ping pong balls with ease. This minimal weight gives them the floaty, airborne qualities essential for ping pong.

Difference in Size

Bowling balls have a large diameter of 8.5 inches (regulation size is 8.5-8.59 inches). Their hefty weight requires a bigger ball to allow proper finger holes and grip points for throwing.

Ping pong balls are truly tiny at just 1.6 inches in diameter, which is the 40mm regulation size. This compact size coupled with the minuscule weight gives ping pong balls their agile, speedy nature on the table.

Materials Used

Bowling balls were originally made of dense hardwoods like Lignum Vitae but evolved to various synthetics in the 20th century. Today bowling balls use polyester, urethane, resin, or reactive resin as the outer shell material over an inner core.

Ping pong balls are made of celluloid, a type of plastic, which gives them a bright white color and smooth exterior. Inside, celluloid ping pong balls are typically hollow or just contain a little air. Under the 40mm regulation, official ping pong balls must be celluloid or similar plastic.

Bounce Characteristics

Bowling balls actually have very little inherent bounce due to their weight – they just crash and roll. Professional bowling lanes have special wood or synthetic materials to make the balls rebound down the alley.

Ping pong balls bounce well off tables and paddles due to their extremely light, hollow construction and plastic shell. This lively bounce is crucial for balls ricocheting back and forth during rapid rallies.

Speed They Travel

When rolled on a lane, bowling balls can reach speeds over 15 miles per hour from skilled bowlers. However, the ball is always traveling along the ground rather than flying through the air.

Though they seem slow and floaty, ping pong balls can actually reach speeds of over 50 mph during hard rallies and slam shots! The fact that such a lightweight ball zooms that fast is pretty incredible.

How Fast is a Serve?

Bowling doesn’t really involve “serves” – balls are always rolled from the player’s hand down the lane. But a solid release with power and revs on the ball can certainly get it cranking fast down the alley!

A fierce table tennis serve can send a ping pong ball blazing over the net at speeds exceeding 50 mph! This is accomplished by striking the ball with a ton of paddle acceleration upon contact.

World Record Speeds

The fastest bowling ball speed was recorded at 44.2 mph in competitive play, though most recreational players will roll balls around 10-15 mph.

Some ping pong servers have recorded blazing serves over 65 mph! Smacking a 1 gram ball that weighs 1/100th of an ounce that fast is seriously impressive.

Comparison to Other Balls

The bowling ball is the heaviest and lowest bouncing ball in recreational sports – more akin to shot puts and cannonballs!

The ping pong ball is extremely light and bouncy like other hollow plastic balls used in juggling and other table sports. But it’s smaller and faster than something like a plastic whiffle ball.

Best Materials and Brands

For bowling, popular materials include reactive resin shells with pancake weight blocks from brands like Brunswick, Ebonite, and Storm. High end balls run $150+.

For ping pong, Butterfly and DHS make competition grade 40mm streamlined plastic balls around $5 each. Recreational brands like STIGA sell bulk packs for cheap.


Bowling balls should be wiped down after uses and cleaned with a ball cleaner monthly. Frequent re-oiling the coverstock maintains the ball’s hook potential.

Ping pong balls don’t require much care other than replacing them periodically as they break down from rallies. Storing in a controlled climate helps maintain celluloid integrity.

Old Ball vs New Ball

As house balls get beat up from tons of games, the bowling ball coverstock gets less smooth and reactive over time. A new ball right out of the wrapper will hook and roll better.

Ping pong balls lose maximum bounce and speed as the celluloid absorbs minuscule dings and dents from hard hits during play. Nothing beats that crisp pop off a factory fresh ping pong ball on its first bounce!

In summary, bowling balls and ping pong balls differ vastly in weight, size, construction, regulations, spin potential, and speed due to their specialized roles in each sport – but both deliver awesome fun for players and spectators!