USBC Changes to Rule 18

Altering Ball Surfaces


Rule 18- Altering Surface

While bowling in USBC sanctioned competition, a bowling ball cannot do any of the following once competition has started:

  1. Have the surface altered using an abrasive (ex. Abrolan pads)
  2. Be cleaned with ANY liquid substance or cleaning agent.
  3. Have any foreign material on it including, but not limited to: Powder, rosin, marker or paint.

All Bowling balls so altered or cleaned during competition will not be usable until competition is over. NOTE: Should a foreign substance appear on the outer surface of a bowling ball not caused by the bowler, which cannot be removed with a dry towel, said bowler may use an approved cleaner with consent from a league official or tournament officer.

Common Questions & Answers

What can be used to clean the ball?A dry towel or shammy can be used to clean the outer surface of the ball during competition. If the ball has residue that cannot be removed with a dry towel, the bowler is to present the ball to a league officer or tournament official who can authorize the use of a USBC approved cleaning product to remove the residue.

When does it go into effect? – The activation of the limits of the dry towel in Rule 18 begins with the start of scoring for the competition. Once practice is over and the league or tournament has begun scoring, no more surface alterations can happen.

Can I pat the ball with rosin? – No. USBC changed interpretation of a foreign substance to include the use of rosin. Patting the rosin on the ball then wiping it off does not make the ball stay within compliance with USBC rule 18. Once rosin touches the bowling ball, it violates Rule 18 and must be removed from competition.

Can I remove residue from INSIDE a hole? – Yes. Removing tape residue from inside of a hole would be allowed during USBC competition with consent from the league or tournament official.


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