Storm Bowling Balls behind a curtain

The Art of Bowling Ball Design: A Glimpse Behind the Curtain

By Dylan Byars

5 min read

Bowling is more than a game; it's a science and an art, particularly when it comes to creating the perfect bowling ball. Most enthusiasts are only familiar with the end product, but the journey from concept to lanes is fraught with trials, errors, and successes. In the inaugural episode of "Designing with Intent," we dive deep with Storm's design team, including Chad McLean, Alex Hoskins, and Gio Clinaz, shedding light on the intricate process of bowling ball creation. So, let's pull back the curtain on the unseen world of Research & Development (R&D) in bowling ball design.

The Genesis of a Bowling Ball

The ball design process is a marathon, not a sprint, involving extensive planning meetings, market analysis, and innovative thinking. From forecasting trends a year or two in advance to experimenting with weight blocks and coverstock material, the team's approach is both methodical and creative. Achieving the right balance between the weight block and coverstock, and ensuring the new ball complements existing lines without redundancy, presents a significant challenge. With the addition of Global to Storm's brand family, maintaining brand integrity while innovating has become even more complex.

The Crucial Elements: Weight Blocks and Coverstock

A consensus among the team is that design usually begins with the weight block. It's the seed from which a ball's unique characteristics grow, with the coverstock adding the final touches that define its behavior on the lanes. Contrary to what some might think, it's not as simple as pairing any weight block with any coverstock. The process involves a delicate balance of enhancing or inhibiting friction and ensuring compatibility between the two components.

The Testing Ground

Gio Clinaz plays a pivotal role in this process, bringing the team's creations to life in the testing phase. With no prior knowledge about the ball's specifics, his unbiased testing provides invaluable feedback. This blind testing ensures that the team's design intentions align with real-world performance.

A Kaleidoscope of Designs

The creativity in bowling ball design doesn't stop at performance; aesthetics play a significant role too. Decisions about colors and names are crafted with great care to appeal to bowlers and ensure visibility on the lanes. The team juggles brand identity, market trends, and visual appeal, striving for designs that stand out while fulfilling specific strategic roles within their brand lines.

Success Stories

Throughout their careers, Hoskins and Clinaz have seen multiple projects come to fruition, each with its own story of challenges and breakthroughs. For example, the "Exponent" and "Summit" designs showcase the team's commitment to innovation and their ability to introduce fresh concepts to the market.

The Unseen Effort

Behind every successful launch lies a trove of discarded prototypes, lessons learned, and untold hours of work. The journey from concept to consumer is a testament to the team's dedication and the unseen complexities of ball design. Their efforts ensure that bowlers worldwide have access to cutting-edge technology and artistry.