Bowling, or ten-pin bowling as its long form, is a highly competitive and popular sport. A game of bowling consists of ten frames, also called turns. As part of each frame, every bowler gets two chances to have a go at the pins and knock them over. The turn is passed on to the next player or bowler when the first bowler either completes both their turns or rolls down all the pins in the first attempt.
However to fully enjoy bowling, it is important that you know the most common bowling terms and how they are used in the game. It will improve your game and also make you sound and appear smarter! The more serious bowlers will appreciate that – trust us!
This response is for those that requested a glossary of bowling terms – these will improve your skills and knowledge in the game. And you will become more confident and comfortable the next time you’re bowling. And that will help you get more experience which will improve your skills and enjoyment of the game.
Here is our glossary of some common terms in bowling explained alphabetically for you
Bowling Terminology – A to Z
Action: Action is the spin on the ball and how the pins on the board move as the ball spins. As a rule of thumb, a slow ball causes a lot more action and effectiveness than a fast ball that results in little action. Action also refers to the bounce on the pins when they hit each other. Sometimes pins fly and mix on the table after a fast blow. All these movements in the game of bowling are called action.
Approach: The area where you stand as you prepare for the throw is called the approach in bowling. This is the floor area that you stand on when you throw the ball. It is also the space at the back of the foul line (explained later in this article) that you place your feet on when you take your steps towards delivery and throw the ball. Even the act that a bowler takes to get to the lane to throw the ball is also called approach.
Baby splits: in the two turns or throws that every player gets, you can get the balls in two common and easier to pick up combinations. They are the 2-7 and 3-10 splits. These combinations are called baby splits.
Back ends: Back end is the far end of the lane where you find the most hooks. Usually when the back ends are dry, the balls hook with the most power for the bowlers. When the back ends are tighter, bowlers tend to have fewer strikes and experience a greater deflection in the pocket.
Break point: This is that part of the lane where the all that you throw hooks back to the pocket. It is critical to find the ideal break point for your throw. When the ball hooks too early in the throw or too late, it becomes challenging for the player to have consistent shots.
Carrydown: This defines how the oil behaves on the boards. The oil that is used to condition the lane is never soaked into the boards but it stays on the lane and is pushed with the ball movements and is carried down to the far end. When a lane has a lot of carrydown, the ball does not hook smoothly to the backend and it doesn’t lead to great scores in the game.
Clean game: A clean game is the one that has no open frames on it.
Deuce: A very common term used in many sports, but in bowling deuce means a game of minimum 200.
Dressing: The act of applying conditioner to a lane before any play begins is called dressing.
Entry angle: The angle at which the ball that you throw enters the lane or the pocket is called the entry angle. Again, as a rule of thumb, increased entry angle means better scores.
Fall back shot: When the lanes are too oily, you experience a fall back shot. It’s when your shot starts on the opposite sides of the pocket and then falls back into the pocket at the far end.
Half ten: Also called a weak 10, half ten is when the 10-pin game leaves a ball in the pocket with the 6 pins in the front laying down in a half-hearted manner.
League: A very popular term in many sports and it means a proper organised team competition that is mostly played on a weekly basis.
Loft: Loft is defined as the distance that the ball travels from when it is released to when it hits the lane.
Match play: A competition in which there are two bowlers that compete against one another and not against the whole field. The winner from the two moves to the next level or round and then plays the next round.
No-tap: This is another type of competition where the nine pins are scored as one strike with the first ball. In some cases, there is an 8-pin no-tap, which means that instead of nine pins there are eight pins.
Perfect game: A perfect game is defined as a game that contains all strikes that results in the maximum game score of 300. It also means all twelve strikes in one row.
Pocket: The ideal location at which the ball should hit the pins for maximum impact is called the pocket. The pocket is generally the area between 1-2 pins (for a left-handed player) and the 1-3 pins for the right-handed player. This is also what is called the target for the first ball that is set in the frame.
Spare: When you knock down all the remaining pins with the second throw that are standing after you finished your first throw, it is called a spare.
Turkey: Three subsequent strikes in a row is called a turkey.
Weight block: Weight block is the internal mass or the weight of the ball that increases the overall gross weight of the ball. Negative and positive weight distributions on the deck are made once you have clear knowledge on the weight blocks.
The above terms are just some of the most common ones used in the game of bowling.
You will feel more comfortable in the bowling alley if you understand more of these terms. And you will feel like you fit in more with your fellow bowlers when you understand the lingo.
Who knows, you might even keep practicing enough to the point where you want to join a bowling league.
I’m Lia and I love playing games. I started this site to share things with friends and they encouraged me to post more and now I’m trying to share things with the world – indoor and outdoor sports, and board and bar games. I write about things like Bocce, Croquet, Billiards, Darts and other fun ways to enjoy time with your friends and family!