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A Beginner's Guide To Bowling

Author: Ank Sheckler

A Beginner's Guide To Bowling

Book Series: Sports For You Series


Strike! Whether you are a pro bowler or a beginner when you see this word come up on the screen after you hurled the bowling ball down the lane and watched it crash into the ten pins at the end of the lane, it excites an emotion of joy, and thrills those watching. Bowling is one of the most popular sports around the world with an apparent 95 million players annually and even a professional championship televised throughout the world.

Bowling certainly is in the hearts of many. However bowling is more than just pins, heavy balls, and funny shoes. There is a lot that goes into this particular sport. This article will discuss some of the specific ins and outs of bowling.

For example: what are common bowling techniques; what is the history of bowling, and where did it come from? All of these questions will help any beginner enhance his skill and experience. This is the goal of this guide -- to be able to help get an overall picture of the world of bowling and the sport at its very essence.

For the sake of readability and overall order this guide is broken up into a number of sub headings. To begin it will delve into the rich history of bowling. Then it will go into bowling protocol as well as certain rules and special techniques. Each section will be titled for ease of access and perhaps quickly finding a specific topic that fits your needs.

There is a popular saying that says you can't know where you are going if you don't know where you came from with this in mind the very first section will delve into the history of bowling. How exactly did this come about? And how long have people around the world have been bowling? Let's see in the very first subheading.

History Of Bowling

Researchers have long been intrigued about the history of bowling. It seems throughout the centuries and even many millennia there have been many variations of different games where perhaps a ball or another object is thrown at a group of pins.

For example all the way back as far as 3200 BC a British anthropologist was searching through a child's grave in Egypt as part of a dig site. As he went through the grave it became clear that there was an ancient form of bowling used by the children in Egypt.

Granted that is a long time ago, however a few thousand years later by the year 300 a German historian strongly attributed the start of bowling there in that country. Fast forward another few hundred years give or take and there is some very strong evidence that even in England, by the 1300s perhaps during the reign of King Edward the third, there was a form of bowling.

In fact looking at a decree in the year 1366 King Edward apparently made it illegal to play bowling because he wanted his military troops to be more focused on practicing archery and other military based skills. Also it is quite commonly accepted that during the reign of King Henry VIII bowling was quite popular as not a few historians assert.

As mentioned through the years there has been a large variety of played games where a ball or some object is thrown trying to knock over many pins, so it seems clear that these types of games over the years continued to develop becoming more and more precise. From France to Britain even through Italy and Western Europe it seems in the past there are many forms of bowling.

So how did this popular sport make its way to the Americas? Apparently, French, English, and Dutch settlers flowing into the United States during the 1800s brought these popular games with them. It seems the earliest mention of bowling is found during these times, in American literature.

For example, author Washington Irving, when penning the infamous Rip Van Winkle, included a section in the piece, where Rip Van Winkle is found waking up to the sound of crashing nine pins. As is commonly known, Rip Van Winkle as a short story was published in the year 1819.

Clearly even in the early 1800's bowling was already picking up its popularity. From this time forward we see bowling coming into quite a few States. You might have heard bowling being played in Illinois, New York, Ohio, and many other states on both the east and west coast. Bowling Green continues to be a famous city name in a variety of these states.

Interestingly enough, in the year 1841, apparently there was a specific law in the State of Connecticut that outlawed the maintenance of ninepin lanes. Why was this the case? Apparently along with the sport of bowling came a large degree of gambling. This heavy vice did not always sit well with many of the politicians and higher ups in the States.

However amidst the bad reputation bowling had, it is clear that it was very popular and played by many of the states, if they had to make a specific law making it illegal. Many people in the upper class actually had a lane installed in their large houses. This helped in privatizing bowling as a sport.

However for the sport to really take off it needed not just privatization but standardization. This is because although it was a very popular throughout many of the states, there were no real standards as far as ball size, ball weight, number of pins, or even the dimensions of the pins.

Each of these important facets was far different in the different clubs around the country. So bowling saw its major step forward when a restaurant owner by the name of Joe Thum decided to have a meeting with some of the representatives of different bowling clubs around the country.

A date that will go down in the history of Pro Bowlers is September 9,1895. It was on this day that the ABC otherwise known as the American Bowling Congress was initiated. There was a large meeting at Beethoven Hall in New York City.

This meeting helped to standardize the sport as a whole and to start inputting some real competitions; in fact championships would now, and could now be held. Like many sports similar to it, in the beginning bowling was strictly for men. It wasn't until close to 20 years later in the year 1916 that there was a Women's International Bowling Congress set up in the state of Missouri.

Even the equipment used in bowling needed to have a makeover. During the early 1900s, balls were usually made of lignum vitae, a particularly durable and hard form of wood. However in the year 1905, the sport saw its first rubber ball known as the “Ever True”.

Close to 10 years later in 1914 The Brunswick Corporation started promoting the mineralize ball as it also had an interesting rubber compound. Throughout all of this continued growth in the sport of bowling, one aspect continued to be a slight nuisance.

This was the reliance on pin boys. After a bowler would roll the ball down the lane into the pins, there were no automatic machines getting the ball to come back. So pin boys were used to stand down at the end of the lane to pick up the ball and walk it all the way back to its original position where the professional bowlers would commence.

This took a considerable amount of time and seemed to be an almost unnecessary necessity. However there was a large breakthrough in bowling technology in the year 1951. The famous AMF Company also known as American Machine and Foundry Company purchased some interesting patents for the automatic pin spotter.

About 1 year later, production model pin spotters were introduced. So pin boys found themselves out of a job, as pro bowlers around the country and throughout the globe were happy to install these useful machines in their bowling alleys and in their homes.

Today we have the PBA or the Pro Bowlers Association being very popular on ABC sports broadcasting and even the former Ladies Pro Bowlers tour, which now is known as the Professional Women's Bowling Association. So with an interesting start through the centuries and the years, bowling has become standardized and has become a specific sport with specific associations and clubs.

Even on an international level, over 95 million people worldwide enjoy it. Some of the top athletes continue to compete in Olympic level championships and in international competitions. So while we may want to just have a family night and drive to the local bowling alley, it is interesting to see the long history of bowling as a whole, and how it traveled from Africa to Europe down to the Americas as we know and love it today.

So how exactly is bowling played, what are the basics, how do you score a game, and what are the rules in general with bowling? The next sub heading will go into bowling basics.

Bowling Basics

You walk into a bowling alley; you see many lanes and many people -- now what? While bowling is not rocket science, there are some specific things that have to be kept in mind. This section will delve into the equipment of bowling as well as how to bowl; these being some of the most basic things in the game of bowling.


Bowling Shoes

Before ever picking up a ball, one of the first things you will have to do is rent some bowling shoes if you did not bring your own. True -- at first it might seem to be a nuisance or perhaps like the bowling alley is trying to get a couple of extra dollars out of you. However, this is not the case, and actually bowling shoes really make a difference and are quite necessary in the game.

First of all, bowling shoes help to keep the approaches in proper order. One of the most important parts of any bowling alley is the lane and the approach. The approach is the part of the lane that you will walk on before you throw the ball down the lane. You may notice the approach is usually a slick hardwood.

This is because in order to have the best possible performance the approach has to be free of any debris and fairly slick. As you step onto the approach you may have noticed the almost slipperiness of it. This is to help you slide as you release, and keeps the alley, the approach, the lanes, and the ball free of debris.

Most alleys have a strict no food or drink rule when on the approach. So you may have to keep your snacks in your seat, clear of the approach area. Imagine the damage that can be done if there is food or drink on the approach. Rather than the ball going down the lane, a person could be found sliding down the lane due to a sticky surface or other reason.

Second, bowling shoes help keep a controlled atmosphere in the bowling alley. To walk into the bowling alley using any shoes off the street it would be perhaps a pretty filthy place and no standardization on the lanes. So bowling alley owners are not trying to get as much money as possible out of you, they are trying to keep their equipment in good condition and at the same time avoid accidents and potential danger for their clients.

Bowling balls

What about the bowling balls? Of course the bowling ball is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in the entire sport. In fact it is commonly held that a great bowling ball will give you a great game. So it definitely is very important to find the ball that is a good enough weight and feels quite comfortable whether it is a ball used in the bowling alley or your personal bowling ball.

It can be a little overwhelming when you go to the bowling racks and notice there are many different colored balls and many different weights. You can usually find anywhere between seven pound and 16 pound balls. As a rule of thumb many bowlers use the 10% rule.

This means a bowling ball should be approximately 10% of your full body weight, of course only up to 16 pounds. In other words if you weigh 120 pounds grab a 12 pound ball, if you weigh 100 pounds grab a 10 pound ball etc. The ball has to have a reasonable weight and at the same time it should not be so heavy that it is uncomfortable for you.

Of course anyone who weighs over 160 pounds should definitely stick to the 16-pound ball. Of course this is only a rule of thumb and does not fit every possible circumstance and or personal situation.

For example there may be those who had an arm surgery or perhaps other physical condition that would make it quite difficult to hold and even swing or throw a ball that is 10 percent of their body weight. Be sure to use a lighter ball as necessary. Of course the goal is always to make sure one feels comfortable with the ball they will be throwing for the entirety of the game.

You may notice there are certain holes on the ball. These are to stick your fingers in and grip the ball correctly. Be sure that the finger holes fit just right. These holes should not be too small as this can greatly affect your game. The hole being too small can make it hard for your fingers to get out of the hole and perhaps when you swing the ball back and swing it forward to throw it down the lane the ball might stay stuck on your hand or have a jerk movement as it is released from your hand.

On the other side of the coin, if the holes are too big it can put a lot of pressure on your fingers trying to hold the ball correctly. This can even possibly lead to injury -- perhaps releasing the ball too soon if your fingers are not able to remain in the hole. Also very important is the hand position.

Another rule of thumb is to make sure to have a small space beneath your palm before touching the ball. In general if you can stick a pen or a pencil in the space between your palm and the bowling ball with the pencil slightly touching both surfaces this is an appropriate size. If it is too tight to stick a pen or pencil between the ball and the surface area of your palm the ball holes are too big for your hand. This can over-stretch your hand and cause pain and serious discomfort.

Bowling Pins

Now that you have chosen the correct ball size and weight, you have your bowling shoes, and you are just about ready to hurl this heavy sphere down the lane and what will you be aiming at? The bowling pins! In general there are usually 10 pins set up in a perfect equilateral triangle.

The pins are arranged with one pin in the front followed consecutively by a row of two pins, then a row of three pins and finally the back row with 4 pins. Pins tend to be made up of a hard maple wood and are more than likely coated with plastic. A professional league sized pin stands at a height of 15 inches and can weigh between three and four pounds.

The base of the pin should have a diameter of two and one-quarter inches, whereas the middle of the pin is generally thicker, so can have a circumference of 15 inches. A bowling alley tends to have three sets of bowling pins. Two sets are used during the league and championship season.

This way the pin operator can rotate one set of pins throughout the bowling season allowing one set to rest and one set to be played with. In fact a set of pins can last as long as four hard seasons of league bowling before the bowling alley administrator would have to purchase new bowling pins.

Of course as the pins are used and knocked down, reset and knocked down again they are worn down, and the quality of play goes down as well. This brings us to the third set of pins that most bowling alley administrators keep on site. These pins are not particularly worthy or capable of being played with in the league.

So when the bowling alley is typically opened throughout the season for the public, this third set of pins is used. This third set is what allows the first two sets to be able to rest until the league starts again in the month of September in the fall. Some may have noticed that when they bowl in the summer the pins perhaps react differently and perhaps more soft than at other times of the year. This is due to the set being used at different times of the year.

Bowling Lanes

The pins are set up; you have the bowling ball in hand, and you approach the bowling lane. A league-size lane is about 60 feet long and about 41 ½ inches wide. Each lane is bordered along the long side, 60 feet, with a semicircular channel, which is called the gutter.

Gutters are designed to catch and return balls that do not stay on the lane. Most bowling lanes are made up of hardwood or polyurethane synthetic flooring. This is to help the bowling ball as it rolls across the surface slick enough to accomplish its goal.

These are the most typical parts of any bowling game: the bowling ball, bowling lane, bowling pins and bowling shoes. With these fundamental parts of the game fully understood, how exactly do you bowl? The next section of this beginner’s guide to bowling will go into gameplay followed by scoring.

Bowling Gameplay

Having the fundamental part of the game understood, how exactly do you play and how exactly do you win in bowling? This section is designed to have an overall view of how to play and how to bowl.

Bowling is typically divided into 10 different rounds for each player. Each round of play is called a “frame”, and during every frame, each player is allowed two opportunities to knock down the pins.

As noted earlier the pins are set up in a triangular formation at the end of the bowling lane. Each player will roll the bowling ball down the lane towards the pins. How do they do this? In general there are two types of shots to throw a bowling ball.

The first is a straight shot. In order to throw a straight shot you will stick your thumb and two fingers into the bowling ball finger holes. Keep the hand underneath the ball and ensure that your wrist is straight.

With the ball in your hands and facing the pins, swing the ball back allowing you to build momentum. As the ball comes forward make sure you release the ball onto the lane when it reaches about the point of your ankle and keep your hand straight and your palm up the entire time. This should ensure that the ball goes straight out in front of you rolling forward directly to where you want it to go.

The second shot which is fairly similar in technique but it is different in purpose is the hook shot. To begin with a hook shot again ensure your have a good grip of the bowling ball. Again, while you swing the ball behind you and back to build momentum, of course not letting go, as the ball begins to swing forward, this time rotate the wrist hand and fingers of your bowling arm towards the outside as the ball comes forward.

This means if you are right handed you will rotate your wrist counter clockwise as the ball comes forward. If you are left-handed your wrist should rotate clockwise as the ball comes forward. Again you should let go of the ball near your ankle and make sure you finish with your hands straight out pointing towards the pins.

Being able to throw a perfect shot obviously will lead to more points and a higher bowling score. Because of this, it is so important to use a shot that works for you, along with which type of ball. Being able to play a game comfortably will allow an enjoyable time, atmosphere, and game.

During the frame if the player knocks down all of the 10 bowling pins at one time it is called a strike and his or her frame is finished. If on the first opportunity of the frame some pins are still standing after the first ball was thrown, then the number of pins that were knocked down are counted up and removed.

With one opportunity left in the frame, the player can now roll a second ball in hopes of knocking down the remaining pins. If this is accomplished it is called a spare. All players are awarded bonuses if they remove all of the pins.

Once a player is given two opportunities to knock down the pins then the game continues with the next player in line until each player has tried. Once all players were given two opportunities the frame is over and the game continues on to the next frame. The game is finished when each player completes all 10 frames. In games that are timed if the time were to run out before the end of 10 frames have finished, whichever player has the most points wins the game.

During certain games the final frame of the game may actually involve 3 balls. During the final frame if a player bowls a strike knocking each of the 10 pins down, this player is actually awarded 2 extra balls so as to allow a final award and bonus points.

So how exactly do you score a bowling game? The next section will go into this interesting question.

Scoring A Bowling Game

With today's technology it is very true that almost every bowling alley is equipped with computerized scoring machine. These machines digitally count and calculate the score of all 10 frames during a bowling match. However it is still very good to know how to score and how the bowling scoring system actually works.

This section of the beginner's guide to bowling is designed to help understand this very aspect. As mentioned, the game of bowling always has 10 frames. At the end of the game a player can have a minimum of 0 points and a maximum of 300 points.

During each of the 10 frames, each player is awarded two opportunities to knock down each of the 10 pins. Each pin technically is valued at one point, so bowling tends to be scored by pins.

Using your score sheet the easiest points to write down our points for strikes. A strike occurs when the first ball removes all ten pins.

A strike is always worth 10 points in addition to the value of the following two rolls. Each strike is marked on the scoring sheet with an “X”. How is a strike scored? Basically a strike can never have less than 10 points. And may never have more than 30 points. This is because a strike is awarded 10 points along with the value of the next two frames of that player.

So for example if someone was to throw a strike giving them 10 points and then in the next two frames fails to knock down even one pin, they get two zeros for each of the following frames. This leaves the player with a total score of 10 for the initial frame.

On the other hand if a player gets a strike, awarding him 10 points and the next two frames gets two strikes as well awarding 10 points for each strike then for that initial frame he is awarded 30 total points. The following two balls are always counted along with the strike for any given frame. This is also why during the 10th and final frame a player can be awarded 2 extra balls if the player throws a strike.

How do you score a spare? Since a spare is using both shots in a frame to knock down all 10 pins a spare is marked on the scoring sheet with a backslash. A spare is worth 10 points plus the value of the following roll. For example if during your first frame you threw a spare, and in the first ball of the second frame you throw a six, the score for the first frame will be 10 + 6 or 16.

The maximum score in a frame with a spare is 20 points. This can be accomplished by throwing a spare and during the first ball of the next frame throwing a strike allowing 10+10. The minimum score possible during a frame with a spare is 10. This is possible when a player throws a spare and during the first ball of the next frame throws a gutter ball.

What if a player does not throw a strike or a spare? This is called an open frame. For example if on the first opportunity of a frame, you knocked down 3 pins leaving seven, and on the second ball you knock down 4 pins leaving three, the frame is over and your score for that frame would be the total number of pins knocked down or 7.

It can be a little confusing when looking at the scoreboard as a whole, however many find it very reassuring by treating each frame as an individual. By slowly working frame by frame the game can go a lot easier. As mentioned, most bowling alleys have a conventional scoring system that will do all of the necessary calculating for you; however it is good to know how to keep score in case there isn’t an automatic scoring system.

Now with the basics of gameplay and equipment out of the way, what are some techniques that the pros use? How can a player take his or her game to the next level even as a beginner? The next section will go into some of the more commonly used techniques in bowling.

Bowling Techniques

With all of the basics out of the way, this section will delve into some bowling techniques that will help any beginner and or novice be able to improve his or her game greatly. As with any art or skill it does take time, and it does take practice. Even after you understand and fully know all of the basics, it will still require practice and plenty of experience to do everything appropriately each time.

Practice is what also helps to build up your own personal playing style. Some feel that they should just play however makes them feel right, but this can be a big mistake in the long run. By ignoring some of the basic rules and techniques of proper bowling your game will never be able to achieve its maximum potential.

To begin let's discuss techniques on holding the bowling ball. Holding a bowling ball can drastically improve or drastically bring down the course of the game. Again it takes practice to hold it correctly and by taking it step by step you will always improve. Of course the 3 holes on the ball are specifically for your fingers.

Be sure to insert your fingers into the hole and make sure they do not bend, your fingers should be straight at all times. If you are beginning, feel free to use your open hand to support the ball until your backswing begins. The ball should be held with your fingers and your thumb on your palm.

The more you play, the more your muscles will develop and performance will increase. Now that the ball is being held, how do you release the ball? For a proper release, fundamentals of axis rotations should be understood. What does this mean?

Put simply the ball is obviously the weight, whereas your arm is the pendulum swing and your shoulder is the fulcrum. So understanding how the swing and movement of your arm is going to affect the speed and spin of the ball as well as how your hands and fingers move, will play a big role in understanding when and how to release the ball.

In general as mentioned earlier it is good to release around the ankle area. However, because no two players are the same, sometimes the ball should be released sooner or even after the ball passes the ankle. For example for a tall player with very long arms the release point will definitely be greatly different from a shorter person with small arms. This is because the way the arms swing, and the amount of time it takes the ball to get from maximum height back down to the ankle is greatly differed.

Where do you aim the ball as you release it? This seems like an easy question to answer: directly at the pin. However depending on your throw, whether a straight shot or a hook shot, you may want to hit the pins at different angles. Also depending on how fast you are throwing the ball you may directly hit down the center or off at a slight angle hitting the pins behind the first pin row.

It all depends on your strategy. Of course this definitely takes practice as well. The more you play the more you will get a feel for the alley, for the pins, and for the ball and understand the best possible way to aim.

The final aspect in bowling techniques is the bowling approach walk. This approach is basically the manner in which a player will walk toward the lane and release the ball. There is no general way or rule of thumb, however depending on each player and what feels comfortable this can be achieved. It is generally accepted that the final step when you release the ball should be with the foot opposite your throwing hand.

For example if you are holding the ball with your right hand as you walk and approach the alley your final step should land on your left foot, swinging the ball forward and releasing it down the alley with your right hand (almost simultaneously). This ensures balance and optimal throwing power.

The steps before throwing the ball do not have a real standardization. Each player has a different approach or walk however most end the same. Opposite foot is planted, while throwing hand is bowling the ball.

These techniques can be used and applied by even the most novice of bowlers. This makes this beginner’s guide to bowling very appropriate for all users. There are some bowling terms that can be hard to come by, or understood by beginners. For this reason, the next section will define the most commonly used bowling terms and lingo.

Bowling Glossary

This glossary is meant to cover most of the basic terms in Bowling for beginners to know and understand. For this reason it is not an exhaustive list of every possible term and expression used in bowling. Just the main entries:

ABC: Founded in the year 1895, The American Bowling Congress is the official executive body for bowling in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and all U.S. owned military bases throughout the world.

Action: (See Pin Action)

Alley: The term alley can apply to a variety of definitions. For example, the bowling location itself can be referred to as the Bowling Alley. A group of lanes can be described as a whole as an alley. Also, the specific lane you are playing on may be called the alley. (Usually lanes are made up of a maple hard wood or urethane plastic surface.

All the way: If you played a game “All the way” it means you finished the whole game with strikes across every frame. This would result in a score of 300 points.

Anchor: The anchor is one of the most important positions and or players in team bowling. The anchor bowls last in succession after the whole team. This is usually one of the best players on the team because of his ability and the possibility of getting a strike during the first and last frames awarding higher points.

Angle: In bowling, angles are very important. Specifically with the direction of the angle the ball carries as it hits the pins. Research suggests the best possible angle is 4-6 degrees.

Apple: Many times in the sport of bowling when a commentator refers to the word “apple” he is simply referring to the bowling ball itself. However in team bowling if a bowler has a difficult situation and fails to succeed, many times it is called an apple as well.

Approach: The approach is not necessarily part of the bowling lane. It is usually behind the lane itself starting from the foul line all the way to the ball return area. Approaches are 16 feet long. In fact it is a requirement by the American Bowling Congress that an approach is at least 15 feet long.

Some refer to the physical approach as the platform or runway. It is good to note that an approach can also refer to the approach walk or approach motion in which a player starts his bowling movements and right before the end of the release of the bowling ball.

Arrows: The arrows usually aid in helping to aim the bowling ball. Arrows are embedded into the bowling alley itself. There are typically seven or eight arrows in a dark red or black color and they are used for proper aiming.

Baby Ball: A baby ball is a term used to describe a ball that is thrown too lightly with not enough strength. It can also be used as a verb, for example, “they baby the ball”.

Back End: The back end refers to the final five to six feet of the lane including the pins.

Backup: If a player throws a backup it means that the ball fell away to his or her dominant side. For example if a right-handed person threw the ball and it fell to the right it was a backup.

Balk: A balk typically has two definitions. For example a balk can refer to a player who does not complete his or her approach, in other words, does not release the ball. However a player can also “balk” another player by interfering with that player’s approach and stopping another player from completing his approach walk as well.

Ball Rack: The ball rack simply refers to the rack where the ball rests after it returns from the pit but before it is thrown again. In public bowling alleys the ball rack is where the bowling alley stores their balls for the public.

Ball return: The ball return is a specific track you may see between different lanes that allows the balls to come back and be returned to the bowler. Some ball returns are under the lanes and you cannot see the ball coming back.

Balsa: A balsa is a very delicate hit on the head pin. Some have also referred to this as a thin hit.

Barmaid: A barmaid is a pin hiding behind another pin. For example the pin 5 behind the pin 1, pin 8 behind pin 2, or even pin 9 behind pin 3. Depending on which club you are a part of a barmaid may also be referred to as a bicycle, a double wood, or a sleeper.

Bed: You may hear the term bed. It is simply the entire area of the lane; this includes the approach, the pit, the gutters, even the pins, and channels.

Beer Frame: When playing with the team, if every player strikes except for one, that player usually has to treat the rest of the team to refreshments - in most cases beer. In some cases it can also be the player who scores the lowest in a specific frame.

Bench Jockeying: To jockey the bench is simply to have a conversation or to do an action with the purpose of upsetting the opponent or the opposing team.

Bender: A bender is a hooked or curved shot that comes very close to the gutter before slamming into the pocket.

Bevel: To bevel a ball means to just smooth the finger holes and the thumbhole after drilling into the bowling ball.

Bicycle: (See barmaid)

Big Fill: A big fill is when there are nine or ten pins left on a spare or the second opportunity, and they are knocked down. Or perhaps you get a double on a strike.

Big Five: A big five is when a player shoots three pins on one side and two on the other.

Big Four: This is when there is a split of the 4, 6, 7, and 10 pins.

Blind score: A blind score is usually allowed when one member of the game is missing. Typically it is the average score minus 10 points. While this is allowed, it is considered a penalty.

Blocked Lane: If a commentator speaks of blocked lanes, it means one of the lanes has maintenance condition with too little or too much oil or finish and creates a track. Usually this allows for higher scoring.

Blow Out: A team can blowout another team by outranking them in every frame of the game. Also, a blowout happens when a player knocks down every pin except one.

Body Language: Body language is interesting, as it seems most players after they release the ball will move their arms or legs or head in a seeming attempt to curve the ball after it has already left their hand. If a commentator mentions body language it is usually quite comical.

Bonus: When playing, there is usually a bonus or extra pins awarded for the winner of the game. In most cases the bonus is either 30 or 50 points.

Bowling Shoes: These are specific shoes worn for bowlers. They have a rather slippery, slick sole and sometimes a rubber sole on the other foot to allow for good balance.

BPAA: The BPAA, known as the Bowling Proprietors Association of America is a specific organization of owners of bowling centers. These are the ones who also publish the well-known Bowling Digest magazine.

Break: A break can be one of two things, either a very fortunate shot, or after a number of consecutive strikes, a missed shot.

Bridge: The bridge is the distance between the finger holes -- specifically the thumbhole and finger hole.

Broomball: A broomball is a ball that hits the 1-3 pocket in a manner that causes all of the pins to scatter. This makes it seem as though they were swept with a broom, thus the term broomball.

Burner: A burner happens when the ball hits all of the pins and it seems to be a perfect strike however one pin remains standing.

Carry: If a commentator says the ball carried a certain amount of pins, it simply refers to the ball’s ability to knock over a specific pin.

Charge: A commentator may be heard saying one team “charged” forward. This simply means during a professional league game one team had a sensational outpouring of high scores.

Cheesy Cake: A cheesy cake is any lane on which it seems it is easy to score a strike.

Chicken Wing: A chicken wing is usually looked down upon. It occurs when a player is swinging the ball and allows his elbow to move away from his body. In general it is an inappropriate way of releasing the ball but certain bowlers who have physical issues may be seen using the chicken wing.

Clean Game: A clean game is a given game that does not have any open frames. This means during each frame there was either a strike or a spare.

Cracked Thumb: A cracked thumb refers to the literal cracks that happen to appear on a bowlers thumb because of the calluses and over-use.

Creeper: A creeper is any ball that is thrown very slowly.

Curtain: A curtain is when the anchor or final player misses during the final frame when a spare or strike would have won the game for his team. It has also been referred to as a curtain call, or closed curtain.

Curve: When the ball changes direction from right to left or left to right in a very large swinging motion it is a curve.

Cushion: In the back of the pit, there is special padding that helps to absorb shock of both the ball and the pins being knocked down.

Darts: (See arrows)

Dead Apple: When a ball deflects off of the pins in an ineffective manner not doing much damage it is a dead apple and some refer to it as a dead ball.

Deflect: The way a ball moves after coming into contact with pins at different angles or from one side to the other is considered a deflection.

Delivery: The way a player approaches, releases, and follows through with the ball is known as the delivery process.

Deuce: A deuce is a game that reaches 200 or has an average of 200 across the board.

Dive: A ball dives when it has a very great curve at the last possible moment or split second before coming in contact with the pins.

DOA: A DOA is when a ball is thrown and results usually in a split because there was no spin or no power. DOA stands for “dead on arrival”.

Dodo: A dodo or a dud is any bowling ball over the legal weight or out of legal balance.

Dots: You may have noticed dots on the approach. These dots are used to allow the bowler to get in the proper stance at the start of his approach.

Dry Lane: When a commentator mentions dry lanes it simply means the lanes have very little oil or very little finish on the surface.

Double: A double occurs when a player hits two strikes in a row.

Drive: (See Alley)

Error: An error is simply a missed shot. This happens when a player does not complete his objective. Perhaps even a mistake.

Fast Lane: The fast lane is typically the lane that allows a ball to hook very easily. Some have heard of living in the fast lane. This saying is said to have been first derived from bowling.

Field Goal: A field goal happens when the ball rolls between two pins during a wide split, not touching either of them.

Fill: A fill happens when pins are knocked down following a spare or perhaps two strikes.

Finger Grip: A finger grip is a specific insert that a player can put into the finger holes of his bowling ball, allowing for a better grip and usually increased spin at the player’s release of the ball.

Fingertip Ball: A fingertip ball is a type of bowling ball in which the finger holes are farther than usual. Usually this allows for the thumb to be inserted into the hole while the middle and ring finger can only be inserted up to the first bend of the finger. This allows a great amount of spin to be acted upon the ball because of such a large distance between the thumb and finger holes. However, usually Pros will use this type of ball since it requires a lot of strength in the hand, fingers, and wrist and requires a lot of practice to master.

Flat Ball: If a player throws a flat ball, it means the ball had hardly any action, if any spins at all, and proved to be quite ineffective.

Floater: A floater occurs when the lane moves the ball usually because it is released with no action or strength.

Follow Through: The follow through is any motion after the release of the ball usually it's in the direction of the pin the player is aiming at, which puts him in a position pointing at the pins.

Foul: A foul happens when a player touches or goes beyond the foul line at his release of the ball. Penalties are given.

Foul Line: The foul line is a specific indentation or mark that shows the beginning of the lane. It is usually 60 feet away from the pins and where the gutters start. It is also typically marked with a red color.

Automatic detector lights and a buzzers will go off that will alert the team and opponents of any fouls if a player crosses the foul line. Should a player go over the line, he will get a zero for that frame’s ball and he will have to only have one opportunity during the second part of the frame.

Foul Detector: The foul detector is the machine that lets out a buzzing noise and usually emits a light if a player crosses the foul line. (See foul line).

Frame: A frame refers to any given round of the 10 rounds in bowling.

Garbage Hit: A garbage hit is a hit that does not enter the pocket but still manages to accomplish a strike.

Graveyard Lane: A graveyard lane is any lane that seems to have very low scores.

Gutter: The gutter is the semicircular channel usually nine and a half inches wide both to the right and the left of the lane. This gutter guides the ball to the pit if it leaves the playing surface and does not hit any pins.

Gutter Ball: A gutter ball happens when a player rolls the ball into the gutter channel resulting in no points awarded.

Gutter Shot: A gutter shot is an interesting technique in which the pros will release the ball as close to the edge of the lane as possible many times within an inch of the gutter.

Handicap: In some games where a player or a team of players is awarded a handicap, it means they are given a head start so they are given a number of pins or points to start with, trying to equalize the game.

Head Pin: The head pin is the first or front pin of the rack.

Home Alley: A home alley is the favorite lane or bowling alley for an individual or for a specific team.

Hook: (See curve)

Hook alley. A bowling alley in which it seems the ball tends to hook easier.

Hot: A player or team is hot when they have a number of consecutive strikes.

House: The house is the bowling center or bowling alley.

House Ball: A house ball is a bowling ball that is given to you by the bowling alley.

Inside: The inside of a lane is usually towards the center. This is very different from the outside of the lane, which is near the edge of the lane, close to the gutter.

Kingpin: The term kingpin can have a number of definitions. The kingpin can refer to the number five pin also referred to as the head pin. Also a king pin can refer to a player or a team of players that are local champions.

Lane: The lane is simply the flooring usually wooden or urethane plastic about 60 feet long in which the ball is rolled. Each lane has a gutter on each side of it. The lane goes from the foul line all the way past the pins into the pit. The approach is not part of the lane.

Leadoff Man: The leadoff man is the first player to bowl in a team game.

Lift: A ball gets lift when it has an upward motion given to it by the fingers at the point of release.

Line: A line can refer to a single game of bowling. A line can also refer to the given path the bowling ball moves in as soon as it rolls towards the pins.

Love Tap: If a spin receives a love tap, it is a slight push given to it by another pin that softly and slowly knocks that pin down.

Maple: Maple is a term used to talk about the pin. Some clubs also refer to a strike or a spare as a maple.

Match Play: Match play is the section of any tournament in which specific bowlers begin going one on one competition against each other.

Miss: (See error)

Moat: (See gutter)

NBC: This refers to the National Bowling Council.

Open Frame: An open frame is a frame that did not have a strike or a spare.

Open Bowling: Open bowling refers to any time bowling is allowed for the public and is not necessarily for tournaments or league play. It can also be referred to as leisure bowling.

Over spin: Over spinning occurs when a player puts too much torque on the ball and not enough lift. This prevents the bowling ball from moving properly.

Par: (See deuce)

Perfect Game: A perfect game is a game where a player bowls 12 strikes in a row with a count of 30 points per frame resulting in a score of 300.

Pin: A pin is usually the target of bowling. There are usually 10 pins at the end of the bowling lane, which the bowlers try to knock down. They are usually formed of wood with a plastic coating with a diameter center of two and a quarter inches.

Pin Bowling: Pin bowling is when you bowl using an entire rack of pins as a target.

Pinched Ball: A pinched ball is a ball that is gripped too hard by the player. It usually results in little force and undesired results.

Pin Deck: The pin deck is 60 feet from the foul line where the pins stand.

Pit: The pit is a space at the end of the lane where the ball and pins are knocked down.

Pocket: Pocket is one of the most used words by a commentator. It is the best possible angle for the ball to hit the pins. It is between the one and three pin for right-handed players and the one and two pin for left handed players. This is the best possible angle for a ball to strike the pins in order to receive a strike.

Pot game: A pot game is a special competition in which two or more of the players who are bowling will put some kind of prize at stake. The winner of the competition takes everything in the so called pot.

Powerhouse: A powerhouse can refer to the ball with lots of strength hitting the pins, and blasting them and causing a strike. Or it can refer to a player who throws such powerhouse balls.

PBA: PBA is the Professional Bowlers Association or Pro Bowlers Association. This association is the determining factor for specific requirements for membership as well as any fees both local and national and they also monitor the conduct of distinctive players.

Rat Club: A rat club is any team that shoots extremely low scores for an entire game. Typically it is not a good nickname.

Reading The Lanes: Most pros can read the lanes very well. This means they can observe and understand how a lane will help or hold the ball, where to hook it, and what is the best place to roll the ball for the highest score.

Release: The release is the moment the ball leaves the hand after the backswing.

Revolutions: A commentator may say the ball had a number of revolutions. A revolution is a number of spins the ball takes from the moment it is released to the moment it hits the pins.

Runway: (See approach)

Sanctioned Game: A game that is sanctioned is a specific competition recognized by the ABC or even the Women's International Bowling Congress.

Sandbag: Any player who purposely puts his average lower than normal in order to get a special handicap is a sandbag.

Sandwich Game: (See deuce)

Shadow Ball: A shadow ball is basically a practice ball. Usually for a few minutes before a competition, players will throw shadow balls to practice.

Six Pack: A six-pack occurs when a player throws six strikes in a row.

Slick: Usually the flooring is referred to as slick. This is because it is very highly polished and perhaps even oiled. Thus debris and grime are kept to a minimum.

Slide: The slide is the final step of the approach walk just before the release.

Spare: A spare happens when all pins are knocked down with both balls in a given frame.

Spare Leave: The spare leave is the term used to describe any pins still standing after the first ball was thrown in a frame.

Splasher: A splasher is a strike where pins are knocked down rather quickly and violently much like a splash.

Strike: A strike occurs when all ten pins are knocked down on the first ball. 12 strikes will allow for a perfect game.

Strike Out: If a player strikes out, this means he played three consecutive strikes on the final frame finishing the game with strikes.

String: A string is 3 or more strikes in a row.

WIBC: This is an acronym for the women's international bowling conference. This was started in St. Louis in the year 1917.

Web: (See the bridge)

Yanked shot: A shot that a player holds on to for too long pulling it across his body.

YABA: YABA stands for the Young American’s Bowling Alliance. This association provides rules, recognition and sanctions as well as supervision for amateurs in the sport of bowling. It is for young bowlers, and the YABA is a nonprofit organization.

This section contains many of the most common terms used and heard during bowling matches across the nation. It is not exhaustive, so there are more words and terms that are not included. Also, not all bowling lingo is standard from nation to nation, and club to club. So basically, there will always be some words that have to be learned at the bowling alley.

The final section in this guide will serve as an overview to all of the information that has been discussed throughout this book. This will help sound down some of the more important informational gems, and those key points that will help any beginner in the sport of bowling.

Beginner’s Guide Overview:

It is hoped that at the end of this guide there have been some key principles learned and good strategies brought out for beginner bowlers. It is always good to do a review as a refresher, and as a tool to have certain key points repeated. For this reason, this small section at the end of the guide will delve into a brief summary of main ideas.

The first section of this guide went through a thorough history of the sport of bowling. Having some similarities in sports dating back 5 millennia, bowling certainly has been around for a long time. Later on in Western Europe there were some advances in bowling as a sport and pastime.

Finally we see a more standard set of bowling when many immigrants throughout Europe bring this treasure to the United States. Bowling congresses, clubs, and more were finally seen setting up and coming into the picture as well as technology and rules. Today bowling has evolved to one of the most played sports and free time activity hobbies the world has seen.

The next section went into some of the more hands-on training of bowling by introducing the basics of bowling. Starting out with some of the equipment was a good commencing point because there are a lot of details in each of the playing points.

For example, the way the bowling ball evolved from wooden carved heavy m, to rubber-based particles was a big step in bowling growth. Also the way to pick a proper bowling ball for your personal game is a key factor in how the game plays out.

The pins have an interesting story behind them as well, which was discussed in detail. One of the most important things to remember is the way the pins are set up and the best possible angle to hit them at (1-3 for righties, and 1-2 for lefties). Also pins are typically maple wood resurfaced with plastic and they are no higher than 15 inches.

Those funny looking bowling shoes actually have a good purpose as was discussed earlier. They help provide balance, safety, and cleanliness across the board. While it may seem that the manager is just trying to get a few more dollars out of you, it’s actually quite beneficial.

The next section went a bit further into the gameplay of bowling. Once you pick a ball, you put your funny shoes on, you sit in front of the lane, now what? This section spoke of the common dos and don’ts of bowling in gameplay.

For example, using the ten percent rule to find a ball of choice is a good point to remember. How do you throw a bowling ball? That’s one of the most important things in bowling. No one wants to look funny in front of his or her friends throwing the ball like a basketball or kicking it like a soccer ball.

It isn’t too hard to do, so just as a reminder, the two main types of bowling rolls were discussed and dissected -- the most popular being the hook shot. The hook shot not only looks cool but swings into the pocket at a better angle of attack. It takes a lot of practice to master, but is worth the effort.

The straight shot is a bit easier and is what most beginners start off with. Both shots start off by swinging the arm back and walking forward. As you step on the opposite foot of the throwing arm your swing forward and release the ball around the ankle. The difference in releases is all about the finishing position.

When using a straight shot, more than likely the hand of the player will be facing the roof. This allowed the ball to simply roll off the hand and head straight for the pins. When using a hook shot, however, more than likely after the release, the player’s hand will be facing the opposite wall. This is because the player would have turned his or her hand to start the ball spinning.

The next section spoke of some of the techniques the pros use and how a beginner can start to meditate on these things. Aspects like the release, as well as the approach walk. How pendulums work, and how your arm and the ball are affected. Any beginner can start to research these things and begin to develop their game at a more rapid pace.

In the final section, there was an extensive glossary of bowling terms used. This would be a good tool for any novice to understand the terms used and help improve the gameplay with a more extensive knowledge of the game itself.

Bowling is more than just a game with heavy balls and funny pins. It is a game of skill and requires practice just like any other art or talent. With a good guide to bowling, anyone can learn the basics and be one step ahead of the game and begin polishing their art. Sooner or later even they will see that word come up on the screen. Strike!