The Bowling Terms You Need To Know

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Bowling is a popular sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experience levels. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned bowler, it’s important to understand the basic terms used in bowling. Knowing these terms will help you keep score accurately, understand the lane conditions and get familiar with the various techniques, drills, strategies and tips for improving your score. In this article, I will explain the basics of bowling terminology so that you too can become an expert bowler!

The Basics

Get ready to be a pro at the lanes – let’s learn the basics! Bowling is a fun and easy game that anyone can play. It involves rolling a ball down an alley towards 10 pins, with the goal of knocking them all down in as few rolls as possible. The basic terms you need to know are ‘frame’, ‘strike’, and ‘spare’. A frame is one turn for each player, which consists of two rolls. If you knock all 10 pins down on your first roll, it’s called a strike. If you don’t get them all on your first roll but manage to do so on your second roll, it’s called a spare. Knowing these terms will help you understand how scoring works in bowling and give you an edge when playing against others.

Scoring Terms

When bowling, keeping score is almost as important as throwing the ball. Knowing the terms used to describe particular throws will help you understand the game better. A strike is when all of the pins are knocked down on one throw and it’s worth 10 points plus any bonus points for additional strikes in that frame. A spare is when all of the pins are knocked down in two attempts and it’s worth 10 points plus any bonus points for extra spares rolled in that frame. An open frame occurs when not all of the pins are knocked down on either a strike or spare attempt, while a split occurs when only some of the pins have been knocked down after an attempted strike or spare.


Striking all ten pins on a single roll of the ball is an impressive display of skill and finesse. A strike in bowling is when all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball of a frame. This yields a score of 10 points plus any bonus points awarded for strikes in the previous frames. The most common type of strike is referred to as ‘a clean’ or ‘perfect’ strike, where the bowler knocks down all ten pins without leaving any standing. It requires precise control over both speed and accuracy, making it one of the more difficult shots to master in bowling.

The traditional way to mark a strike on score sheets is using an ‘X’, although some modern scoring systems use an asterisk (*) instead. When multiple strikes are scored consecutively, they may be represented by two X’s, three X’s etc., depending on how many consecutive strikes were rolled. Once three consecutive strikes have been thrown (known as a ‘Turkey’), this will increase the bowler’s score significantly and can be quite exciting for both onlookers and players alike!


Knocking down all ten pins with two rolls of the ball is called a spare, and it’s just as rewarding! Achieving this feat can be tricky, but when done correctly it is an incredibly satisfying experience for anyone. To get a spare, you must knock down all the remaining pins on the second roll of your turn; if you fail to do so, then you only get one point for each pin fallen by your first roll. However, if you successfully complete a spare, then you are rewarded with 10 points plus any pins knocked down on your next throw.

When attempting to achieve a spare there are several techniques that can help improve accuracy and increase the likelihood of success. One popular approach is to use the ‘7-10 split’, which involves throwing two balls into opposite sides of the 1-3 pocket. This allows for maximum pin coverage and increases chances of success since fewer pins remain standing after each shot. Other techniques include aiming at the headpin or corner pin depending on what best suits your particular style of play. With practice and dedication anyone can master this skill and reap its rewards!

Open Frame

An open frame is when fewer than 10 pins are knocked down on the first two rolls of a turn, resulting in an unfinished score. This means that the bowler will have to roll again during their next turn to get the remaining pins and complete the frame. If they do not make all the necessary pins during their third roll, then they will receive a score of 0 for that frame. Open frames can be beneficial to a bowler’s overall score, especially if they are able to make all the necessary pins on their third roll. However, if a bowler has an open frame and fails to convert it into a strike or spare during their next turn, then they may end up with an incomplete score, leading to lower total points at the end of the game.


A split is one of the trickier shots in bowling, and learning how to convert it can be a great way to rack up some serious points! A split involves leaving two or more pins standing that are separated by a gap. To make this shot, the bowling ball must go through the gap between the pins without hitting either of them. This requires precise timing and accuracy with your release and follow-through. It’s a difficult shot for even experienced bowlers, but mastering it can reap rewards in terms of increased scores.

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When attempting to convert a split, aim at the second pin from the right on the back row as you approach your release point. This will help ensure that you hit both sides of the gap evenly so that you don’t accidentally knock down one or both pins while still trying to avoid missing them completely. Practice makes perfect when it comes to converting splits, so take every opportunity you get to practice your technique and refine it over time.

Lane Terms

You’ll be ‘knocking ’em down’ when you understand the lane terms used in this game. Bowling lanes are typically 60 feet from the foul line to the head pin. The area of a bowling lane is called a "lane bed" and is made up of 39 boards of hardwood, usually maple or pine. The boards are covered by a thin sheet of oil that runs down the center of the lane and helps keep your ball on its path towards those pins. At both ends of a lane are gutters which help catch balls that have gone off course. There are also arrows on each side of the lane, which indicate where you should aim your shots. Knowing these terms will help ensure you stay within the boundaries while playing this fun game!


Having all the right accessories can make your bowling experience even more fun and convenient, so don’t let anyone tell ya’ ya don’t need ’em! Sure, you don’t necessarily need any extras to bowl but for those extra special occasions, having a few of these items around can be helpful. Here are three must-have bowling accessories:

  1. Bowling Bag – A bowling bag is essential if you’re going to take your ball from place to place. It makes it easier to carry your ball and other items like shoes and gloves, plus it helps protect the ball from getting damaged in transport.
  2. Towel – When you’re out on the lanes, a towel is handy for wiping down your hands between frames as well as cleaning up spills on the lane surface. Not only will this help keep things clean but it’ll also improve your grip on the ball.
  3. Wrist Support – If you want to prevent wrist pain or injury while playing then a wrist support or glove might be necessary. This accessory provides extra cushioning and support which can help reduce strain on your wrist during long games of bowling.

So whether you’re just starting out with casual play or looking for something more competitive, having these three essentials will ensure that each time you hit the lanes everything runs smoothly!


As a bowler, I’m sure you want to know the techniques behind getting a hook, strike ball, and back-up ball. Knowing and mastering these techniques can help you become a better bowler with more confidence. To start off with a hook shot, it is important to choose the right bowling ball and adjust your approach angle so that the ball will curve into the pins. For a strike ball, line up with your target accurately and don’t forget to follow through after releasing the bowling ball. Lastly for a back-up ball, use an earlier release point to get an outside edge on the lane which allows for adjustment in case of any misses.


Striking the right pins can make all the difference, whether you’re an experienced bowler or just getting started. Knowing how to create a hook is one of the most important techniques for improving your bowling game. A hook is when you roll a ball that curves in the opposite direction of your dominant hand. For example, if you are right-handed and your ball hooks to the left, this is known as a “hook ball”. To create a hook, bowlers must use their wrist to generate spin on their ball just before release. This causes friction between the lane and the ball’s covering which creates curving momentum toward the pins. Experienced bowlers often adjust their grip on the bowling ball in order to increase or decrease spin depending on conditions such as oil patterns and lane surface texture. In addition, they typically aim at different boards (the number of arrows ahead of where they are standing) but still throw with enough force so that their hook will bring them back into line with the pocket (where all 3 pins meet). With enough practice, even beginners can learn how to generate an effective hook shot and significantly improve their scores!

Strike Ball

After understanding the concept of a hook, it’s important to understand how a strike ball differs. A strike ball is when all ten pins are knocked down on the first roll. This is the most desired outcome for any bowler and is often referred to as “striking out” or simply “a strike.” When you get a strike, your score for that frame will be 10 plus whatever you score in your next two rolls, making it one of the best ways to rack up points quickly.

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There are a few different types of strikes: perfect strikes, solid strikes and wash-outs. A perfect strike occurs when you hit the pocket –– which is an area between the headpin and 3 pin –– dead center with your ball. Solid and wash-out strikes occur when you hit slightly off center, but still manage to knock down all ten pins. Whatever type of strike you get, it’s always beneficial to your score!

Back-Up Ball

Investigating the truth of a back-up ball theory can captivate your audience. A back-up ball is a term used in 10-pin bowling to describe when a bowler throws an additional shot down the lane after their first one, usually done as an attempt to increase their score. This can also be referred to as a ‘second chance’ or ‘double tap’. The most common time that this occurs is during the tenth frame, due to its importance in achieving strikes and spares.

A back-up ball requires excellent technique since it must be thrown with the same speed and accuracy as the initial throw while still attempting to hit more pins. It’s not uncommon for bowlers who are more experienced or have greater control over their shots to use this strategy even during earlier frames if they feel it could give them better results. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual bowler as to whether or not they decide to use a back-up ball so that they may reach their highest potential score.


As a bowler, I need to constantly practice my technique. To do this, drills are key. The three most important drills are the balance drill, timing drill and target practice drill. The balance drill can help me develop a consistent stance and delivery to ensure accuracy; the timing drill helps me work on developing an efficient approach for maximum power; and the target practice drill is essential for developing good aim and proper follow-through.

Balance Drill

Mastering your balance is a key component of becoming a successful bowler, so make sure to practice this drill regularly! The Balance Drill is an important tool that every bowler should use when they are starting out. This drill focuses on developing the proper form and balance you need in order to be an effective bowler. It involves:

  • Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart with your weight evenly distributed between them
  • Making sure your arm swing stays consistent throughout the shot
  • Ensuring that your steps stay smooth and synchronized with the rest of the bowling motion
    By practicing this drill, you can learn how to control and maintain your balance while still executing powerful shots. Additionally, it can help you develop good muscle memory for proper form and technique. Once mastered, it will help you improve accuracy and consistency in all aspects of bowling.

Timing Drill

Developing your timing is essential for successful bowling, so make sure to practice this drill regularly! The timing drill involves throwing the ball on a consistent basis with each step of your approach. This will help you find a rhythm that works best for you and your style of play. Start by throwing the ball down the lane while counting out loud. Count “one” when you take the first step, “two” when you take the second step, and so on until you release the ball at “six” or whatever number works best for your approach. Doing this will help keep your steps in time with each other as well as keeping them consistent every time you throw.

Practice this technique often to really get comfortable with it and learn how to adjust it depending on different lane conditions. Once you have mastered it, remember to use it during competition to ensure that all of your shots are timed perfectly. Using this drill can help increase accuracy and consistency in your game which can ultimately lead to higher scores!

Target Practice Drill

Targeting specific areas of the lane is key for success, so try out this drill and see how it can improve your game! The Target Practice Drill is designed to help bowlers become more accurate with their throws. To start, pick a spot on the lane, such as one arrow or two arrows away from the gutter. Then, aim to hit that spot every time you throw. It may take some practice to get used to focusing on a small part of the lane like this, but it’ll help you learn where your ball should go and how much speed you need to use in order to reach that area. As you become more comfortable with this drill, challenge yourself by picking smaller spots or alternating between different spots throughout each frame. With enough practice, soon enough you’ll be able to find your target without even thinking!


Practicing the right strategies can help you become a bowling champ! Knowing which strategy to use is key to success in the sport. To begin, it’s important to understand basic lane conditions and ball types. Different lanes and balls require different approaches, so it pays to do some research before choosing your equipment.

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It’s also helpful to look at how other bowlers approach a lane. Do they go for strikes? Spare? How are they adjusting their lines? When playing with a team, communication is paramount – discuss what you see, and work together on a strategy that works for everyone. Finally, practice makes perfect – keep honing your skills through drills and target practice until you find your winning formula!

Tips for Improving Your Score

Mastering the right techniques can help you become a champ, so get ready to take your game up a notch! To improve your score, start by perfecting your stance. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and slightly angled towards the pins. Make sure that you keep your body relaxed and that your arm swings freely in an arc as you approach the line. You also want to focus on consistency when selecting which bowling ball to use. Choose one that’s comfortable for you to grip and throw with ease. Additionally, practice regularly to develop muscle memory and get more familiar with the lane’s topography. Finally, make sure you’re focusing on each frame individually rather than trying to hit too many pins at once – it’ll help you stay present in the moment and avoid making mistakes due to rushing or overthinking. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro bowler!

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of shoes do I need to bowl?

When you’re ready to hit the lanes, it’s important to have the right bowling shoes. Bowling shoes come in two varieties: rental shoes and performance shoes. Rental shoes are available at most alleys and provide a good grip on the floor, but don’t offer any extra features such as adjustable sliding soles. Performance shoes are designed for serious bowlers, providing additional features such as interchangeable sliding and braking soles that allow for more precise control of your release. They also tend to be sturdier and look better than rental shoes, making them an ideal choice if you plan on bowling regularly.

Are there any bowling alleys open during the pandemic?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many bowling alleys have closed or reduced their hours of operation. In some areas, bowling alleys are still open, but may be operating at limited capacity and with enhanced safety measures in place. It’s important to check local guidelines before visiting a bowling alley as these restrictions can vary greatly by region. Additionally, you should call ahead to make sure that the bowling alley is open and confirm any safety protocols they’re implementing before you go.

How much does it cost to rent bowling equipment?

Renting bowling equipment can vary in cost depending on the type of equipment and where you rent it from. Generally, renting a full set of bowling balls, pins, and shoes will run between $50-$100 for a few hours. If you’re just looking to rent individual pieces of equipment (like one ball or shoe), you’ll likely pay around $5-10 per piece. It’s best to check with your local bowling alley to get an exact cost estimate before renting.

Are there any leagues or tournaments I can join?

Yes, leagues and tournaments are available to join. Whether you’re a recreational bowler or a competitive one, there is something for everyone. For the casual bowler looking to have fun with friends and family, there are local bowling leagues that meet weekly in most cities. And if you’re looking for something more serious, many centers offer organized tournaments throughout the year where bowlers of all skill levels can compete for trophies and cash prizes. So come on down and join in on the action!

Are there any different bowling styles I should know about?

There are actually quite a few different bowling styles to know about. The most common style is the traditional style, which utilizes an approach with two steps and a slide at the release of the ball. Another popular style is called power-throwing, which involves taking a bigger step and throwing harder to get more speed on the ball. There’s also hook-style bowling, where bowlers aim for a hook reaction at the pins by releasing the ball at an angle. Finally, there’s bumpers bowling, where all of the pins are raised so that they don’t fall as easily when hit by a light roll from beginners or children. No matter what your skill level, there’s sure to be a style of bowling that you’ll love!


Wrapping my fingers around the ball, I take a few steps back and let it go. As I watch it roll down the lane, everything else fades away. My focus is on that one moment, as if nothing else mattered. Bowling has become a passion of mine – a way to connect with friends and challenge myself.

I’m amazed at how much there is to learn in this sport. Knowing the right terms can make all the difference in improving your score and gaining more satisfaction from each game you play. So if you’re ready to take your bowling game to the next level, be sure to familiarize yourself with these must-know terms!

Dave Mueller

Hey, I'm Dave. I like to write about things that interest me. I'll write about anything from current events to personal experiences. I hope you enjoy what you read and please feel free to leave me any feedback.