When thinking of bowling, the main object that pops into most people’s heads is the bowling ball, and this makes sense since the entire game essentially revolves around this object and how it is thrown by the bowler.
However just as important are the bowling pins that are used for actually scoring a game and testing a bowler’s accuracy.
Bowling pins have a long history dating back even centuries, however, over the years they have altered and changed to adapt to the modern game, meaning their weight and height specifically have changed quite a bit.
Below we have taken a deep dive into the average weight and height of bowling pins and why this actually matters when you’re on the lanes.
Why Does The Weight Of A Bowling Pin Matter?
The weight of a bowling pin will majorly affect how easy it is to be knocked over, and this is a very big deal in bowling.
Before the modernized rules began forming in the 20th century in America, essentially anything and everything was used as pins when bowling, however much of this was very light wooden or stone objects meaning when a ball knocked one over, it would often fly into the others making it extremely easy to hit a strike.
Even just a gust of wind could knock down a few pins at a time, and the bowlers would usually still add this to their score.
It becomes very easy to score when the pins are lighter since players can knock them down far easier which is usually the case in beginner-specific matches. Heavier bowling pins make the game more competitive and are more tuned to the standard way of playing the game.
What Is The Average Weight Of A Bowling Pin Today?
Today, bowling has become much more modernized and fair, and bowling pins have been included in this trend. According to the USBC (United States Bowling Congress), a standard bowling pin should weigh around 3 lbs and 6 ounces, on some occasions however it can be 2-4 ounces less.
Most bowling pins that you can find in a bowling lane will often be around this 3-pound mark or sometimes just less, however, this does depend on the manufacturer.
The general rule of thumb is that a pin should weigh approximately one-quarter of the heaviest bowling ball to make the game fair but also teach bowlers what their most preferred ball weights might be for knocking down pins in regular bowling lanes.
Other Bowling Pin Weights
The 3-pound average is often linked with tenpins used in standard games, this requires a decent knowledge of the technique and amount of force to use to score a strike.
Duckpins however which are used for duckpin bowling which can be a little easier for beginners usually weigh around 1.5 pounds. This makes them extremely light and short, making them perfect for bowlers to practice their swing and technique before moving onto heavier pins in regular ten-pin games.
Fivepins are also slightly lighter than regular tenpins usually being around 2 pounds on average, making them another great tool for some target practice.
Candlepin bowling is a unique variant of bowling which is great fun for all ages to get involved with, however, it also has an extremely high skill ceiling being very hard to master. Each pin in candlepin bowling is around 2.40 pounds making them a little lighter than tenpins, but not by a large degree.
What Makes A Bowling Pin Heavy?
Depending on how you want to bowl and the type of game you want to play, pin weights can therefore vary quite a bit, and there are a few factors that make them lighter or heavier.
Size is one factor, a taller pin will be a lot heavier than a smaller one, however, this can be a bit different if a pin is smaller but has a wider bottom with the main weight center being at the top, this can cause the pin to weigh a bit more.
The material is also extremely important, plastic is usually used to make pins lighter while wooden pins or ones mixed between wood and plastic are usually used for more competitive scenarios since they are heavier to knock down.
What Is The Maximum Weight Of A Bowling Pin?
The reason these weight limits are put into place is to strike the perfect balance between pins being too easy or difficult to knock down.
However this is not always replicated in all bowling arenas, if you find a lane using heavier pins than the average or much lighter ones, they are probably doing so to either raise the competitive levels or are beginners just trying to get into the swing of throwing a ball and learning new techniques.
In standard games and in mostly all regular bowling lanes however, the weight of a bowling pin should never be more than 3 lbs, this is seen as exceeding the limit and being too heavy for everyone involved to have an enjoyable experience.
In terms of minimum weight, this largely follows the same precedent, in standard games tenpins are expected to be no less than 3 lbs or 1500 grams.
It is however much more common to find local lanes use lighter pins as opposed to heavier ones since they can be found and manufactured far easier and are a common way for those just getting started in bowling to become accustomed to the different scores and bowling methods without having to worry about getting that perfect strike every time.
How Tall Is The Average Bowling Pin?
The actual size of a pin is also very important as it can make a game easier or more competitive depending on how tall they can be. According to the United States Bowling Congress, a standard tenpin must be 4.7 inches in overall diameter with an average height of 14 inches.
In tenpin bowling the pins will therefore usually hover between 13 and 15 inches which makes the pins sturdy enough to not fall over too easily but still not rock solid to the point where they can’t be knocked down, it’s the perfect middle point. The average tenpin is also often around 4 to 5 inches wide.
In terms of the other kinds of pins, candlepins tend to be slightly taller at around 15 inches while duckpins are usually around 9 so that they are easier to knock down.
An important point to note is that tenpin heights actually vary from country to country, for example in Japan the standard height of a tenpin is 8 inches. This is because in Japan all ages will play the same game of bowling together and so it makes it fairer for everyone involved.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Heavy Is The Average Bowling Ball?
When at a bowling alley you will have a few weight options to choose from to fit your own personal bowling style and these balls will often range from 6 to 16 pounds.
Balls from 6 to 8 pounds are usually seen as more lightweight and won’t put as much strain on the arms, however, you can decide to use a ball heavier than 8 pounds if you want to gain that bit of extra power to knock down as many pins as possible at the other side of the lane.
Most bowling alleys you can visit will ensure their pins are no lighter or heavier than 3 pounds to make sure the game remains consistent and fair, however in your own time never be afraid to experiment with pins made of lighter or heavier materials to either practice or make a day of bowling just that bit more competitive.
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