Bowling is hard to describe because this game is so many things to so many
For some, it's a just a fun way to spend the evening with a bunch of friends.
For others, it's a supreme test of concentration and skill. Whatever your
preference, bowling is sure to strike your fancy.
What can be said for sure is that bowling is an indoor game played on a
polished hardwood floor. The object is to knock over wooden pins at the end
of a lane with a bowling ball. The more pins knocked over, the higher the
There are many types of bowling. While tenpin bowling (the kind with holes
drilled in the ball) is the most popular, bowlers also play duckpin and candlepin.
In these games, the ball has no holes.
In duckpin, the pins are about five inches high, and shaped like miniature
tenpins. Candlepins, however, are 18 inches high and are slightly wider in
the middle. In each game, the pins are set the same way as they would be for
|The National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada|
|Courtesy of: Robert Miller, Jr.|
A bowling game is divided into 10 frames with the object of the game being
to knock all the pins down with the first of two throws. If a bowler knocks
all the pins down with the first throw, they've thrown a strike.
If the bowler knocks all the pins down with both throws, it's called a spare.
The highest score a bowler can achieve is 300, meaning they have thrown 12
consecutive strikes, or a perfect game.
Bowling began as an outdoor sport and continues to be played outdoors as
lawn bowling or Italian lawn bowling. But most bowling takes place indoors
now. Bowling is a sport that can be played year round by people at almost
any ability level.
"People with all abilities have the same opportunities in this game. It's
a wonderful sport because you improve with practice," says Joe Schuld, a bowler.
Bowling truly is a sport for all people at all ability levels. There are
associations such as the Wheelchair Bowling Association, the Blind Bowling
Association and the Deaf Bowling Association. There is also almost no age
limit in bowling. People start as early as five and bowl well into old age.
Experts say that while bowling may look easy, it takes lots of practice
and technique to excel at it. In other words, there's more to it than just
throwing a ball at some pins.
"Many people think bowling isn't a real sport and think it's going to be
easier to learn than basketball or baseball. It's like anything else, the
more time you put in, the better the results will be in the long run," says
Mark Taylor, a bowler.
Taylor uses four to eight different bowling balls in competition to allow
for different lane conditions.
Bowling is also a professional sport that offers prize money to its top
competitors. The Professional Bowlers Association has 2,800 members.
But while a few pro bowlers make a lot of money, experts say not to count
on it as a career. They say you're more likely to make money teaching others
to bowl or by working in a bowling alley.
"Bowling for money isn't guaranteed, because it's a competition. But there
is money to be made in the business side of bowling," says Schuld.
While competing is important for some people, most say the reasons they
bowl are to have fun, socialize and relax. "It's a wonderful way to meet and
get to know people in a relaxed setting," says Schuld.
Bowling is also an easy sport to get started in. You can rent shoes and
the bowling alley provides bowling balls -- all the equipment you need in
the beginning. Two games, plus the shoe rental, will cost you around $10.
Once you decide you'd like to bowl more regularly, or even join a league,
experts recommend investing in your own equipment. A pair of bowling shoes
will cost at least $40 and your ball will run for about $50.
"Anyone considering bowling often should buy their own ball and shoes.
With your own equipment you can begin to develop skills faster because you'll
be using the same equipment all the time," says Mary Booth, a bowler.
Experts also warn against buying your ball anywhere besides a sporting
"Department stores may sell bowling balls a little cheaper, but I would
suggest spending the extra money to get a ball from a bowling pro shop. You
may end up with the same ball, but the driller at the pro shop will take the
extra time and care to make sure the ball fits properly," says Booth.
Bowling is growing in popularity and is fast becoming one of the most popular
family activities in North America. More than 80 million Americans bowl each
While registered league bowling is down in numbers and interest in televised
bowling is beginning to wane, experts say recreational bowling is expected
to keep on growing.
"Bowling is a great sport at all levels, from open bowling with friends
for fun, to high-level competition," says Schuld.
Drop in on a local bowling alley and watch a game or two. Get familiar
with the surroundings and how it's done.
"Bowling alleys are pretty laid back so just drop in and watch what's going
on. You can pick up some basics by doing this," says Booth.
If you really want to see how it's done, you can take in some professional
bowling on TV. It's usually featured on Saturday afternoons.
Get in touch with someone who bowls. You can do this by talking to people
at a bowling alley or even through the Internet.
Be patient and don't be fooled by how easy it looks. If you want to score
high, you're going to have to work at it.
"Learn the basics and then just practice, practice, practice," says Schuld.
Experts say there's nothing like just getting out there and trying it.
Round up a few friends and try a game or two at a bowling alley. If you really
enjoy it, ask at the bowling alley about joining a regular league.
"Bowling allows you to burn off a little energy in a relaxing, non-destructive
manner. Have fun with it," says Booth.
American Bowling Congress
Professional Bowlers Association
701-719 Second Ave.
Right Down Your Alley,
Vesma Grinfelds and Bonnie Hultstrand
Bowl Like a Pro: Winning Techniques That Will Raise Your Average,
David Ozio and Dan Herbst
Complete Bowling Index
Current news and info on competitions
Lots of links
History of Bowling
Read about the history and development of bowling