How to play Bowling Game for newbies and non-bowlers?

Welcome to bowling! Let us go through and learn to play the Bowling Game.

Bowling is a game that involves a bowler rolling a bowler through a surface lane with the aim of hitting the target, targets in bowling are pins which are arranged at the far end of the lane.

Bowling game is guided by rules, basic terms and different language terms that define the whole concept of bowling, let us look into the following essential areas in the field of bowling:

1. Basic bowling terms
Under this we will discuss the following basic terms that are common in a bowling game, this include:

  • Bowling lane
  • Bowling pins
  • Approach
  • Gutter

2. Language and terms used in bowling
Language and terms used in bowling are so many and they vary depending on the type of bowling game, here we are going to widely cover different language terms used in bowling, just to mention a few:

  • Strike
  • Split
  • Spare
  • Turkey
  • Open frame
  • Bumper
  • Alley

3. Scoring systems
Under this where are going to discuss different ways in which scores are awarded, rules concerning the scoring. Different points awarded when a bowler makes a strike, spare or fails to fall all the pins.
We are going to also discuss the benefits of a bowler making a strike or spare in the tenth frame, also how a bowler gets to earn bonus points during a play.

4. Preparation for a bowling game
Under this, we are going to highlight and discuss procedures/ways that a bowler needs to follow in preparation for a bowling game. Also, we are going to site the requirements that a bowler in preparation of a bowling game.

5. How to play
We are also going to give procedural steps that a bowler needs to follow while playing. How a bowler can hit a strike, ways in which a bowler is likely to hit a target. Below is the discussion on the topics as highlighted above

Learning bowling
Starting with Bowling

Basic Bowling things

Bowling has terms and languages that enhance the running and communication among bowlers and during play, below are some of the terms used in bowling game;

1. Bowling lane

Commonly referred to as the surface lane in bowling. The surface lane is the floor where a bowler throws the bowling ball onto. The surface lane is oiled to give the bowling ball a gliding effect to reach the pins, this gliding effect is as a result of friction between the outer cover of the ball and the surface of the lane.

Bowling alley
Bowling lanes with numbers

The surface lane varies in different bowling games depending on the rigidity of the surface in play. The surface lane in candlepin bowling is much harder as compared to the one tenpin and duckpin bowling. Tenpin and duckpin bowling have less rigid or hard surface lane hence lesser friction between the ball cover and the surface lane as compared to that in candlepin bowling.

2. Bowling pins

These pins are the target of bowling balls. Bowling pins vary in shape and size depending on the type of bowling ball in place. Tenpin bowling has ten pins that are arranged at the end of the surface lane as the target, ten pins is the common number of pins used in most bowling games, including candlepin bowling, duckpin bowling among others.

Bowling Pins
Bowling pins in positions

Bowling pins vary in size and shape. In tenpin bowling, the pins are slightly bigger and are always arranged equilateral triangular shape. In candlepin bowling the pins are cylindrically shaped with tapers in both ends, therefore, having no distinction between the top and bottom while in duckpin bowling the pins are slightly smaller as compared to that in tenpin bowling, the pins resemble the bodies of duck in flight hence the name duckpin bowling.

3. The approach

The approach is an area that is approximately 15 feet long, ending at the foul line.

Bowling ball throwing behind line
Release from approach

The area that a bowler stands while preparing for a throw. The approach is simply the floor that a bowler stands while he/she is about to make a throw. The area size of the approach varies depending on the type of bowling game and also the area where the foul line is marked.

The approach is commonly referred to as a four-step delivery approach, this is from the sound and counting steps that the bowlers make on the approach area before making a throw. Bowlers’ are advised to master the fundamental sound technique that is implemented in the approach area before making a throw. A bowler is cautioned in making the approach he/she should step over the foul line, for the throw will be disqualified.

4. Gutter

These are pits on each side of the surface lane that a bowling ball on the move falls into given the bowler makes a fault in his/her throwing. If a ball falls into the gutter, the ball is considered deemed and the bowler is awarded no point.

The ball is likely to fall in the gutter because of the following mistakes that bowlers tend to make:

Ball in Gutter
  1. Inappropriate push away
    Bowlers tend to hold the ball in the middle of their chest, note that if the ball is far inside, one is forced to move his/her arms sideways and around the body for the backswing, this is inappropriate and may result in a wrong ball throw.
    You are advised to hold the ball out to the side of your body to allow a good swing straight back and forth.
  2. Drifting your feet
    Bowlers tend to drift from one board to a different board while making a throw, this is wrong because one loses both balance and track of the ball and is likely to miss the target.
    You need to train and master sticking to one board while making a throw, for accuracy.
  3. Too fast on the approach and delivery
    Too much hurry when making a throw results to a quick unexpected step on the foul line. Bowler is likely to lose his/her balance resulting in a fall or wrong throw. A bowler should take his/her time in order to make the right throw and hit the target.

Language and terms used in bowling

Bowling has terms and languages that enhance the running and communication among bowlers and during play, below are some of the language terms used;

1. Strike

The strike is a term used in all bowling games, a strike indicates that all pins have fallen down or knocked down by the first ball of a frame from the bowler.

A strike on the scoring sheet is symbolized by an “X”.

The score awarded on a strike from a bowler in all the variety of bowling games is 10 points plus the points earned from the extra one or two balls remaining, depending on the type of bowling game in play. Just to illustrate below;

  • Frame 1, ball 1: 10 pins fallen(strike)
  • Frame 2, ball 1: 3 pins fallen
  • Frame 2, ball 2: 6 pins fallen

The total score earned from these throws is
Frame one:  10 + (3 + 6) = 19
Frame two: 3 + 6 = 9
Total score = 28

It’s noted that the scored points of the extra balls after a strike are counted twice.

Ruthless Custom Bowling Balls Strategies Exploited
Strike = 10 pins fall in one shot

The strike scoring system is similar in all bowling games except for a little difference in five-pin bowling where a strike earns a bowler 15 points rather than 10 points. Five-pin bowling unlike other bowling games where one fallen pin is equivalent to one point, pins in five-pin bowling all have different points award (the pins are scored with values of 2, 3, 5. 3 and 2).

When a bowler makes two consecutive strikes it is considered as a double or a “barney rubble”. Three strikes consecutively made by a single bowler is referred to as a turkey or sometimes called a “sizzling turkey” if the strikes are from the first three frames. Any other more than three strikes made by a single bowler is referred to by a number affixed to the word bagger. A five-bagger is said to five consecutive strikes made by a single bowler. Six strikes in a row are mostly referred to as a “six-pack” or a sixer or wild turkeys. In bowling are nine strikes are rare, this nine strike is commonly referred to as a golden turkey.

A string of strikes that either come first or at the ending of a frame is commonly referred to as a front or back strike depending on the sequence of its occurrence.

Twelve strikes in a row are commonly referred to as a perfect game, consistency of this perfect game in three consecutive rows is considered a 900 series, this is a consecutive 36 strikes that a bowler makes in 3 consecutive rows. 300 series is a consecutive 12 strikes that a bowler makes in a row.

The 300 and 900 series is difficult for a bowler to achieve, many bowlers who manage to attain either of the two series, most of them are awarded by designing a plaque engraved with his/her title of achievement.

Given a bowler makes multiple strikes in succession he/she is likely to score as illustrated below;

  • Frame 1, ball 1: 10 pins fallen(strike)
  • Frame 2, ball 1: 10 pins fallen(strike)
  • Frame 3, ball 1: 4 pins fallen
  • Frame 3, ball 2: 2 pins fallen

The score earned from these rows is as shown below:
Frame one: 10 + (10 + 4) = 24
Frame two: 10 + (4 + 2) = 16
Frame three: 4 + 2 = 6
Total score earned = 46

If a bowler strikes at his/her final frame he/she is awarded two extra balls that allow him/her earn the bonus points. If the two added extra balls on hitting are both strikes (each ball fall all the pins), the resulting point awarded is 30 points (10 + 10 + 10). Here the bowler won’t be awarded a bonus point but instead, it will be awarded as a 30 point consecutive strike.

2. Spare

Just as a strike, a spare is a state when all the pins have fallen or have been knocked down with the second ball, given the first ball didn’t knock down all the pins in a frame or box depending on the type of bowling game.

A spare in the scoring sheet is symbolized by a forward slash mark (/), this symbol is used in almost all bowling games except for candlepin bowling where the spare symbol is a little bit different.

Bowling Score Spare
Spare marked in scoring sheet

In bowling, a spare is legally awarded if and only if there are no balls standing after the second hit from a bowler in a frame, or box in candlepin bowling i.e. a player has to knock down all the ten pins by the second ball of his/her hit in a frame.

A spare in bowling game is awarded 10 points plus the points earned by the bowler using his/her last ball hit. Note that the score of the last remaining ball hit after a spare is earned is counted twice. Just to illustrate;

  • Frame 1, ball 1: 7 pins fallen
  • Frame 1, ball 2: 3 pins fallen(spare)
  • Frame 2, ball 1: 2 pins fallen
  • Frame 2, ball 2: 4 pins fallen

The total score earned from these throws is:
7 + 3 + 4 (bonus) + 4 + 2 = 20

From the above illustration, it’s noted that the score for the Frame 1 is 14, with the bonus being added ([7 + 3] + 4 = 14).

A spare earned in the last or tenth frame is awarded one extra ball which is used to earn a bowler extra bonus points, the bonus points are automatically added to the bowler after his/her hit.

In the previous years in bowling, correctly calculating bonus points was a little bit tricky and time-consuming especially when there was a combination of consecutive spares and strikes. This problem was overcome in the present day through the invention of the automatic scoring system.

The automatic scoring system once” automated” it keeps score and will automatically reset the pinsetter after three balls are thrown or all the pins have fallen and award the correct points earned. The automatic scoring system can also be “semi-automated”, here it allows the bowler to enter the score but he/she is being monitored by a computer for transparency. This system has made work easier in bowling and also increases the level of transparency and fair play in many bowling competitions. However, at times the automated system also miscounts the number of pins left standing hence wrong point awarding, the system is also prone to faults or errors.

In a situation where a bowler misses or fails to hit any pin using the first ball, but on the second round using his/her second ball hits all the ten pins, this is a spare that is commonly referred to as a hard spare. A hard spare is at times referred to as a late strike since if the shot had come first it would have been considered a strike.

A sequence of spares in bowling is usually termed after names of birds i.e sparrow, Cornish game hen among many other birds names in celebration of a bowlers’ achievement.

3. Split

A split in bowling occurs when the first ball from a bowler on a frame hits the headpin but leaves two or more adjacent groups of one or more pins standing.

A split in most occasion results in a spare given the bowler hits all the remaining pins using the second ball if a bowler scores a spare from a spilt this is regarded as a killer shot.

A spilt occurs in many different ways, below are commonly known types of splits:

i. 7 – 10 split

This type of split is often called the goal post or bed post. This type of split is when the bowler is left with the leftmost and rightmost pin in the back row to them down with a single ball to achieve a spare.

This split is considered the hardest but no problem lacks a solution, there are two ways to convert this split:

  1. Strike either pin and have it bounce out of the pit area and knock the other remaining pin. These technique requires substantial ball speed and also accuracy to strike the pin to the right spot.
  2. Strike either pin on the inside with a great force such that it hits the sidewall bouncing back with the same high velocity towards the other pin hitting it down too.
ii. Cincinnati (7 – 9 or 8 – 10)

Just as 7 – 10 split, Cincinnati involves hitting pins at the back row of the deck, this split is also difficult to convert. Bowler has to slide the 9 or 8-pin into the 7 or 10-pin, this move has a small margin of error of about 0.05 inch.

iii. Woolworth

This split is also called Kresge or dime store. It’s a 5 – 7 split.
In Woolworth the 5-pin does have to be hit at a fine angle to hit the 7-pin. This property makes the split much easier to convert.
The split can also be converted by deflecting an extremely light ball off the 5-pin.

iv. Sour apple, Lily, full Murray

This type of split is also called the Three wise men. This splits involves the bowler using a single ball to hit the 5-pin, 7-pin, and the 10-pin.
In order to convert this the bowler has to use a slightly light ball to deflect the ball the 5-pin into either the 7-pin or the 10-pin, deflecting the ball to the other pin. The convert can also be done by sliding the 5-pin into the back pin of either of the pins and by luck the fallen pin hits the third, though this method is risky since it needs luck.
This split is also considered difficult to convert.

4. Turkey

Turkey is a common term in bowling that refers to three strikes that are consecutively made by a bowler in a frame.

When a bowler makes three consecutive strikes in the first three frames this is referred to as a sizzling turkey.

A consecutive six strikes made by a bowler in a series of frames is referred to as a wild turkey while a consecutive nine strikes in a series of frames is called the golden turkey.

A turkey is usually awarded 30 points for the three strike plus the other points earned from the other remaining balls and also a bonus point if earned.

5. Open frame

An open frame in bowling refers to a frame made by a bowler that is neither a strike nor a spare. This is when a bowler fails to fall all the pins using his/her first two balls.

An open frame in a professional bowling game is devastating and also costs a bowler enough to even lose the game.

6. Bumper

Bowling Bumpers

The bumper is a type of bowling mainly engaged by beginners or young children, those who are still new in the bowling game.
In the bumper, the surface lane is slightly swift, less ridge so that its simple for the player to make a hit to the target.

Gutters are pits on each side of the surface lane that a bowling ball on the move falls into given the bowler makes a fault in his/her throwing. If a ball falls into the gutter, the ball is considered deemed and the bowler is awarded no point. Bumper bowling lacks gutters, its gutters are covered to allow the wayward bowling balls to stay on track of the lane when thrown by the player.

7. Alley

The first-ever bowling alley was opened in 1840, by Knickerbocker in New York City.

An alley is simply the center or the facility where bowling games take place. An alley consists of long and narrow synthetic or wooden lanes, it also has a number of lanes.

The number of lanes in an alley varies depending on the size of the alley in place. The largest bowling alley in the world is in japan, Inawaza Grand Bowl, it has 116 lanes.

Bowling Alley
Bowling Alley

Alleys in the recent past used manual pinsetters but this was advanced to a simpler pinsetter that is used currently in bowling, the modern automatic systems.

Bowling alleys are mostly used by middle-class families for recreation and exposure. Alleys are also used by professionals and pros in bowling for competition.

Most modern alleys tend to have bar areas, billiard tables, arcade games, pro shops and party rooms for fun and recreation.

Scoring system in bowling

A bowling game is made up of 10 frames, in each frame a bowler has two or three chances to knock down the ten pins that are always at the far end of the lane.

Each game gives a bowler a chance to score a minimum of zero to a maximum of 300. If a bowler knocks all the ten pins using the first ball then this is considered a strike and the bowler is awarded 10 points plus the scores earned from the extra one or two balls.

Given all the ten pins are knocked down using the first two balls in a frame then it’s considered a spare and the bowler is awarded 10 points plus the score earned by the remaining ball.

If a bowler gets an open frame, then he/she is awarded the score depending on the number of pins fallen, if a bowler has left two unfallen pins then the score will be 8 points.

Bonus points are also awarded when the bowler makes a strike or a spare in his/her last or tenth frame.

The scores earned in each frame by a bowler are recorded in a scoring sheet, the scoring sheets allow the player’s scores to be accounted for, summed up and give the bowler his/her final score.

Preparation for a bowling game

Bowling game requires early preparation before one can engage in it or hold a competition for the same.

Below are key things that you need to consider while preparing for a bowling game:

1. Find a good bowling alley

Number of lanes
In an alley is one of the most important things that are to be considered when finding an alley. One is to consider the number of teams in place and find an alley with enough lanes to cater to the capacity of the team in place. An eight-lane alley, this alley can fit two play teams who’ll compete against each other in adjoining lanes.

Type of surfaces used in the given alley
An alley has different types of surface lanes depending on the type of Bowling in play. There are two types of surface lanes in alleys; wood and synthetic surfaces. The user should consider either of the two surfaces depending on the game in play.

Bowling alley

Recreation and fun arenas
One should consider the recreational platforms this will help not only to make the game entertaining but also create a good game atmosphere that will make them more enticing.

2. Look for an ambiance

This is a very important aspect of bowling game. The ambiance is simply the character and atmosphere of an alley during a bowling game. For a bowling game to be more interesting rather than just watching the performances or gaming, ambient bowling alley sounds make the game more interesting, entertaining, active and encouraging.

Where Can You Get The Discount Bowling Balls

The ambiance is the entertaining musical/ sound instrument played behind the scenes of the bowling game. A good ambient bowling alley attracts more gamers and makes the game atmosphere interesting.

3. Pricing method

Pricing strategy is one of the most important key things that a bowler should consider while preparing for a bowling game or competition. There are three types of pricing strategy that are used in bowling, this include;

  • Skimming
  • Penetrating
  • Following

A bowler is advised to choose a bowling alley that its pricing strategy suits him/her, most bowlers go for an alley with a low set of price, a price that its value largely falls in the hands of a customer. A price that is favorable to the bowler.

4. Shoe rent price or buy

Bowling shoes are also important aspects that a bowler should consider while preparing for a bowling game or competition, bowling shoes are a special type of footwear with soft shoe soles which helps a bowler to be flexible in delivering a throw and also protects the bowler on the approach area surface.

Most beginners in bowling tend to rent bowling shoes from a bowling alley. Renting a bowling shoe costs a few bucks. Most experts in bowling advise one to buy a bowling shoe of his/her own bowling shoe since its cheaper as compared to frequent renting of those bowling shoes.

5. Select the balls and place in your alley line bowl

Once a bowler has his/her bowling outfit ready, he/she is then allowed to choose balls fit for him/her depending on the ball weight.

Lane Conditions

It’s advised that you hold the ball at areas length away from your body, the ball is considered to be fit for you when or during weighing you require a little effort and it’s not so heavy while toppling over. Once you have a ball fit for you, a bowler is to choose a suitable lane that is in line with the type of bowling game in play.

A bowler should then place balls on a line bowl in his/her lane of choice waiting for the start of the game.

6. How to Hold a Bowling Ball

The bowler after arranging his/her balls on a line bowl. He/she is to then hold a ball ready to make a throw.

The first lesson a bowler or any person with interest in bowling learns is holding a bowling ball correctly. Below are steps on how to correctly hold a bowling ball;

Hold Bowling Ball
  • Place your thumb in the larger bottom hole, your middle and ring fingers into the top two adjacent holes.
  • Rest the ball at the palm of your hand while holding the ball using both hands.
  • Lastly, grip the ball lightly so that while releasing the ball is simply easy and swift. The ball should smoothly slide off your fingers.
  • Test the ability of your arm, how far the ball can go, how accurate your shot can be.

7. Foul line

This is a line at the end of an approach area where a bowler shouldn’t step past while making a throw. Foul line stretches from one gutter end to the corresponding end of the opposite gutter. It separates the approach from the lane.

Bowling ball throwing behind line

In bowling play, a foul is considered when a part of the gamer’s body goes beyond the foul line and touches the lane. When a bowler is fouled, he/she is not awarded the points on the fallen pins but the delivery is counted as nil, zero points earned.

8. Aiming for the 10 pins(strike)

Focused Bowler

For a bowler to make a strike there are certain things he/she needs to focus on, below are key things that a bowler should observe for him/her to make a strike;

  1. Flexibility
    A bowler is advised to be flexible, and for one to be flexible there are certain things you need to do.
    Relax and let your arm muscle move freely due to gravity and forward momentum applied. Ensure your bowling shoe is fit and flexible enough for you. This will give a bowler an advantage and a high chance of making a strike or simply hitting the target.
  2. Ensure the key is in the pocket
    Bowler is advised to angle the ball into the pocket for consistency in making strikes.
    A right-handed bowler has his/her pocket in between the one-pin and three-pin. A left-handed bowler has his/her pocket in between the one-pin and two-pin.
  3. Choose a light ball
    A bowler is to choose a lighter ball that will allow him/her get control of the ball and make an easy, accounted for the throw.
  4. Focus, but not at the pins
    A bowler is advised to pick on the arrow in the middle of the lane and have his/her bowling ball roll over it. A bowler should not aim at the pins as the target but instead find an arrow or dots on the lane to hit the target.
  5. Line up your approach
    The bowler should plan his/her steps on the approach area before making a throw. And ensure he doesn’t step on the foul line while making his/her throw.
  6. Make a throw
    The bowler on making his/her approach, its advised that you keep your arms straight, give yourself counted and controlled power steps. On making the throw, release the ball at the bottom of your downward swing and ensure you curve your throw. Following these you are most likely to hit a strike.

Releasing tips

On releasing the ball, the following happens: thumb exiting the ball first, then the fingers follow releasing the ball.

Where To Stand When Bowling A Straight Ball

There are two types of releasing tips, this includes:

  1. Straight ball release
    This is efficient while picking up a spare. The bowler should keep his/her thumb towards the pins and your fingers behind the ball during the release and follow all through with the palm of his/her hand facing up. 
  2. Hook release
    This is efficient in making strikes. The bowler exits the thumb while his/her wrist rotating and lastly releasing the fingers.
That's all! you are ready to go and play bowling now! 
Practice and find your right ball weight, release point and make a Strike!

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