Bowling Information

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dotBowling is hard to describe because this game is so many things to so many different people.

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.

dotWhat 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 bowler's score.

dotThere 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 tenpin bowling.

The National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nevada
Courtesy of: Robert Miller, Jr.

dotA 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.

dotBowling 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.

dotBowling 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.

dotExperts 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.

dotBowling 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.

dotWhile 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.

dotBowling 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.

dotOnce 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.

dotExperts also warn against buying your ball anywhere besides a sporting goods shop.

"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.

dotBowling 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 year.

dotWhile 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.

Getting Started

dotDrop 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.

dotIf 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.

dotGet in touch with someone who bowls. You can do this by talking to people at a bowling alley or even through the Internet.

dotBe 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.

dotExperts 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.
Seattle , WA   98104


Right Down Your Alley,
by  Vesma Grinfelds and Bonnie Hultstrand
Bowl Like a Pro: Winning Techniques That Will Raise Your Average,
by  David Ozio and Dan Herbst


Complete Bowling Index
Current news and info on competitions
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History of Bowling
Read about the history and development of bowling