The Bowling Terms You Need To Know

Bowling can be a fast-paced, fun, and exciting sport, and a great deal of your improvement or success will depend on how much you practice.

The more experience that you have, the higher you can expect your scores to be – and a great deal of this depends on understanding the lingo, knowing the right terms, and being able to talk like a pro – fortunately, we have you covered with the most important, must-know terms in the sport.

The Bowling Terms You Need To Know

Bowling Basics

If you are ready to bowl like the professionals, then here are the main bowling terms that you need to know – you will be mistaken for an expert in no time!

Ball Speed

This is the speed at which the ball travels down the lane after it has been released from the bowler’s hand. It is measured in feet per second (fps). If you want to improve your game, you should aim to increase your ball speed.

Strike Zone

This is the area around the pins where you must hit the ball to score points. If you miss the strike zone by even just one pin, you will not get any points.


These are the little metal objects that stick out of the ground in front of each end of the lane. They are numbered 1-10, with 10 being the most difficult pin to knock over.

Pin Setter

This person sets up the pins before the start of the game. In many modern bowling alleys, this is likely to be an electronic mechanism rather than a physical person.


This is the electronic device in the middle of the lanes that keeps track of how many strikes and spares you have made during the game.


When you bowl, you are trying to knock down as many of the pins as possible. This is called scoring. Each pin knocked down counts as a strike, and if you manage to knock down all 10 pins without missing, you will get 10 points.

However, if you do miss some of the pins, you still count toward your score. For example, if you only knock down 9 pins but miss the last one, you would still get 9 points.

Spare Pins

These are the spare pins that are placed behind the regular pins. There are usually 3 spare pins in total.


A spare is when you knock down all 10 pins except one. If you manage to do this, you will get 10 extra points.


A strike is scored when you knock down all ten pins in one go.

Strike Percentage

This is calculated by dividing your number of strikes by the total number of balls thrown. So if you had 10 strikes and 20 balls were thrown, your strike percentage would be 50%. The strikes per game refers to the average number of strikes you make per game.

Strikes Per Frame

This is the average number of strikes that you make per frame. A frame is a period between two frames of bowling.

Frame Time

This is how long it takes you to complete a single frame.

Time Between Frames

This is the amount of time between each frame.

Total Time

This is the total amount of time it takes you to complete the entire game.

Game Length

This is how long the game lasts. The standard game length is 6 games.

Average Score

This is the average score you achieve throughout the game.

Best Game

This is the highest score achieved during the game.

Worst Game

This is the lowest score achieved during the game

Worst Average

This is the worst average achieved throughout the game.

Most Strikes

This is the number of times you have struck out.

Highest Strike Percentage

This is the percentage of strikes that you have achieved.

Lowest Strike Percentage

This is the percentage of strikes you have missed.

How To Bowl: The Basics

In order to bowl well, you need to understand what you are doing – and this means starting with the basics. To get started in bowling, you need to make sure that you are following a few key steps:

Pick Your Ball

You should pick a ball that suits your style of play. It’s best not to choose too heavy or too light a ball. When picking a bowling ball, you must ensure that it fits comfortably on your hand, and choose one that is an appropriate weight.

Practice Your Stance

The next step is to ensure that you have adopted the right stance for bowling:

Your feet should be placed shoulder-width apart. They should also be positioned directly under your shoulders, and your knees will be bent slightly – this helps to keep your back straight and prevent injury.

The Bowling Terms You Need To Know

If you are standing upright, then your shoulders should be square with the bumpers, and it is important to keep your elbows in line with your waist, as this helps to ensure that they are at the correct height and position.

Prepare To Bowl

Once you have picked your ball and taken up your stance, you can now focus on the pin itself. It is important to look at the pin from the front so that you can see where it is located. Then, pull your arm back, keeping your elbow close to your body, and swing it through, releasing at the opportune moment.

Once you have released the ball, you must remember to follow through by continuing your arm through the swing. This ensures that the ball travels in the right direction, and boosts your chances of successfully hitting the pins.

How To Improve Your Bowling Score

There are many ways in which you can improve your bowling scores. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Choose Your Balls Wisely

It is essential that you select the right balls for your game. For example, if you are a beginner, then you may want to opt for a lighter ball.

However, once you become more experienced, you might find that you prefer heavier balls. If you are unsure about which type of ball you would like to use, then it is always best to go along to a local shop and ask them for advice.

Work On Your Form

When you first start playing, you will probably notice that you tend to release the ball when you are nervous – and this tends to be early, ruining your chances of a strike. As you gain confidence, however, you will learn how to control your nerves, and you will be able to release the ball at the right time.

Improve Your Accuracy

As you continue to practice, you will discover that you tend to throw the ball too far. In order to avoid this, you need to work on improving your accuracy. The easiest way to achieve this is to practice throwing the ball into a target.

To get started, simply place a small target in the middle of the lane, and aim to hit it consistently. As you progress, you will be able to increase the size of the target.

Practice Makes Perfect

You cannot expect to improve your bowling score overnight. Instead, you need to make sure that you put in the hours necessary to perfect your technique.

Practice makes perfect, and you will soon master all aspects of your game, and boost your overall success.

Final Thoughts

The key to succeeding in bowling comes from hard work and plenty of practice – and learning the right terms will help to set you up on the path to success in no time.

Drew Kaufner