What Does A Split Mean In Bowling?

If you’re a regular bowler and looking for ways to improve in the sport, then it is crucial to extend your knowledge and learn more about bowling. 

What Does A Split Mean In Bowling?

You’ll also need to learn about certain situations you’d rather not find yourself in. One of these is a split. 

No bowler ever wants to find themselves with a split, but they can be very common. 

This article is going to discuss everything you need to know about splits, highlighting the hardest and easiest ones. 

What Is A Split? 

A split occurs when your first throw leaves two or more pins remaining with an awkward gap between them. 

Many splits can be knocked down with the right skill, earning you a spare. This is when you manage to knock all ten pins down with two shots. 

However, there are a few splits that are very difficult to knock down, due to the positioning of the pins.

Many of these splits have nicknames, and some are known for being tricky, while others aren’t too bad! 

This article will now discuss the different types of splits that can occur in ten-pin bowling.

Best Posts

This split has several names, such as the ‘bed post’, ‘goal post’, ‘fence post’, ‘mule ears’, and ‘snake eyes’.

This is the most widely known split in bowling. This split occurs when pins 7 and 10 are the last ones standing. 

Pins 7 and 10 are the pins that are the furthest away from each other and are what makes this split one of the hardest ones to knock over. 

In order to knock these pins over, the player must have tremendous skill in order to knock one of the pins over, for it to then spin a certain way and knock the other over. 

This split is so difficult to tackle, that only four have ever been knocked over by the Professional Bowlers Association tour professions on live TV. 

‘Big Four’ And 6-7-10, And 4-7-10 Splits 

The ‘Big Four’ split happens when pins 4, 6, 7, and 10 are left standing.

This is more likely to happen to bowlers with a straight throw, rather than a hook, as this is dependent on what angle the ball has been thrown at. 

Straight-throw bowlers are likely to be able to hit the headpin directly without an angle, leading to the back pins on either side being untouched. 

A 6-7-10 and 4-7-10 split is similar to the ‘big four’, but instead of the ball hitting the headpin straight on, it hits it at a slight angle, taking out pins 4 or 7. 

These three splits are also very difficult to knock down, almost as difficult as the ‘Best Post’. 

What Does A Split Mean In Bowling?

‘Baby’ Splits And ‘Side-By-Side’ Splits 

‘Baby’ splits, as the name suggests, are situations where the pins that remain are only separated by one pin or less. These include pins 2 and 7, 1 and 4, 1 and 6, and 3 and 10. 

These splits are fairly common, and as the pins are relatively close together, they aren’t too hard to knock down.

Some uncommon ‘Baby’ splits are pins 2 and 9, and 3 and 7. These are less common as they are the interior pins, and are slightly more challenging to knock over. 

‘Side-by-side’ splits are when the pins that remain are left standing next to each other.

While there is no gap between these, they are still referred to as splits because they need to be knocked over at the same time in order to convert. 

As these pins are close together, they are relatively easy to knock down.

‘Double Wood’ Or ‘Sleeper’

These splits occur when the two pins that remain are in line with each other. Some examples are pins 2 and 8, 3 and 9, or 5 and 1. 

It can be tricky to knock these down, as there is still some space between the pins.

The fact that they are in a straight line with each other means that a lot of accuracy is needed in order to knock them both down. 

While these splits aren’t the hardest, they are definitely not easy. 

‘Greek Church’ 

One of the hardest splits you will ever come across in your bowling career is the ‘Greek Church’. 

This split occurs when there are three pins left on one side and two on the other. The pins that are usually the ones left standing here are 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10. 

When it comes to dealing with this split, a bowler will usually need to choose a side to aim for.

Normally, they will aim for the side that has three pins, as knocking these down will lead to more points being earned. 

It is almost impossible to knock all the remaining pins down when it comes to this split, so this is one that all bowlers dread facing. 

‘Lily’ Or ‘Sour Apple’

The ‘Lily’, also known as the ‘Sour Apple’ split is when pins 5, 7, and 10 are the ones left standing. 

This forms a triangular shape and is also known as a hard split to knock down as these pins are all pretty far away from each other. 

Skilled bowlers may be able to knock down two of the pins, but getting the third is very unlikely. 


A tap is when a single pin remains. Experienced bowlers don’t normally have too much trouble knocking these down, but beginners may struggle to get the accuracy right in order to earn themselves a spare in this situation. 

Final Thoughts 

In summary, a split is when two or more pins are left standing after a throw, with an awkward gap between them. 

If a bowler is able to knock the remaining pins down on their second throw, then they’ve earned themselves a spare. 

However, depending on the type of split you are faced with, this can be very difficult as you may find yourself in a situation where there are two pins on opposite ends of the pin pocket. 

Drew Kaufner