Here’s a list of ten of the most common items you should always have available in your bowling bag when you’re out on the lanes. Many bowlers may not agree and every bowler will have their own “Top Ten” essential must haves, but I’ve been stuck many times wishing I had my bowling bag equipped with these items as a bare minimum.
Note: The most obvious items you should already have in your bowling bag such as your bowling ball and shoes are assumed.
- Bowling Towel – During game time, your bowling ball spends quite a bit of time playing around in the oil while you’re trying to be serious and run up some serious strike action. That built up oil, if not wiped off from time to time with a bowling towel, will start to affect the path of your bowling ball and start messing with your head and your game. Always have a bowling towel on hand to clean up your bowling ball after every throw.
- Rosin Bag – Just like your bowling ball, your hands can start to pick up some of that oil that may be left on your bowling ball when you pick it up. Either that, or the adrenaline shot you may encounter during an intense series of bowling can cause your hands to sweat a bit. Keep a rosin bag within reach to help you combat any moisture you may have on your hands and fingers – there’s nothing worse then going for the top game, and the bowling ball slips away from you due to sweaty hands.
- Band Aids – Blisters can happen in bowling, and nothing can interfere with the fun and strike party going on than an uninvited blister on the fingers or thumb. Go hardcore and throw a band aid over any areas that may show sign of developing into a blister and help prevent it from getting worse. You may experience a grip change due to the band aid taking up some space in your grip, but it’s better to be prepared than not.
- Thumb Tape – With changes in the environment due to humidity, heat or lack thereof, your thumb may swell or shrink compared to what your bowling ball’s thumb hole is drilled to. Obviously we can’t plug and re-drill the ball during league play, so keep some thumb tape in your bowling bag and apply one or two pieces of tape to ensure that your thumb remains snug during your grip.
- Bowling Ball Conditioner/Cleaner – After the bowling is all done for the day, you’ll want to slather on some bowling ball cleaner and/or conditioner to make sure that the bowling lane oil doesn’t sit too long on your bowling ball. Some bowling ball coverstocks are porous enough to let the oil soak in, which can affect your overall ball performance over time. Proper cleaner will keep the coverstock well maintained and it will keep that awesome looking bowling ball you picked out, nice and attractive.
- Shoe Covers – These life savers may look a little funny when you walk around in them, but they’re worth the investment. If you’re taking a break and need to hit the restroom, toss these over your bowling shoes as to not worry about ruining your shoes if you happen to step into something ‘unpleasant’; or if you take smoke breaks and step outside, these will also keep your shoes clean and in good condition. If you’re coming inside and bringing in ground debris, you can bet that the staff and other bowlers would rather you have some funny looking shoe covers on rather than tearing up the lanes.
- Shoe Pad Brush – Most bowling shoes have a suede type of material in the bottom of them to help in finishing your approach with some slide action. If that material starts to pick up dirt, you won’t be sliding much and may actually end up kissing the lane if you get caught up. Pick up a Shoe Pad Brush and make sure that the bottom of your bowling shoes are nice and clean by running the brush over them a couple of times.
- Bowling Tape Insert Tool – If you already have thumb tape in your bowling ball, they will need to be changed out every so often or be removed if you need a little extra space for your thumb. Carrying a tape insert tool will help you keep up with your tape management needs and keep the game going even if you need to change tape in the middle of a game. Most tape insert tools are very easy to use for adding new tape and taking old tape out – don’t rely on a writing pen for this task when in a hurry – trust me.
- Wrist Support Guard – Sometimes a long night of bowling can take a toll on the wrist or, you start to tinker with your delivery and use too much wrist action in your release. If you need the assistance, keep a wrist support device in your bowling bag when you need it and make sure your wrist is in the proper position and keep your focus on the game, not your wrist.
- Notebook and Pencil – There is never a bad time to jot down some notes if you encounter something different in your game, or simply want to record information that you can use to better your bowling game. Maybe the lanes you’re bowling on this week have a certain point of interest that you want to remember in case you end up bowling on that same lane again on another night. Or maybe your buddy rolled a gutter-ball during clutch time and you want to make sure you have it recorded for bragging rights, later.
So this is my must have list when I go out bowling, either for practice or league night to make things go a bit smoother. It may look like a lot to worry about or carry around, but once you get these items loaded up in your bowling bag, they simply become helpful tools in your bowling arsenal.
Another Positive Highlight…
Know that even though every bowler’s list of must have’s may be different, there are going to be many bowlers who have nothing in the bag other than the bowling ball and maybe some bowling shoes. As bowlers, why not put in a little extra effort and pay it forward to other bowlers that could use a little help to ensure that they, too, can still enjoy the game if issues arise that YOU can help out with.
Offer up some tape, a band aid or two or maybe offer to write down their scores for them if they want to remember them for later. The goal is to enjoy the game as much as possible yourself, but also help out some of the newer bowlers if they appear to be in need of some assistance so that they can enjoy the game just as much as the rest of us.