Looking to learn more about bowling? Weight block, Center of Gravity, Axis Rotation, what’s it all mean? Find the answers to all your questions in our bowling term glossary provided by BowlersMart.com.

Bowling Terms

See Blind

Motion of the pins caused by the bowler’s technique; generally, the combination of accuracy, rotation (also see), and other factors, causing pin motion which is horizontal, rather than vertical, since a horizontally spinning pin covers more of the lane.

Bowler’s starting position. (stance)

All the way
Finishing a game from any point with nothing but strikes. AKA: Off the sheet

Slang: bowling establishment, ie a bowling center, the playing surface or lane.

Last man to roll in team competition. Usually the best bowler; i.e., the bowler most likely to get a strike in the “foundation frame” (the ninth frame) and most likely to “strike out.” The term originated in 1913 when a bowler (Hans Arfsparger) for the Anchor Brewing team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, bowled in the fifth position and struck out 94 times in succession.

This is last bowler in your lineup. It is often where you place your best bowler on the team so that he/she knows what needs to be bowled to win.

Angle of Entry
The direction the ball travels when going into the 1-3 pocket for right handed bowlers and the 1-2 for left handed bowlers.

Bowler who fails to come through in a clutch situation. (choke)

The approach is the area that is at least 15 feet long on which a bowler uses to walk to the foul line.

This is the arc of the arm that is used to deliver the bowling ball down the bowling lane.

Sighting targets imbedded in the lane to help player align start position.

Automatic foul detector
Light beam at the foul line which sounds an alarm if the bowler’s foot crosses it. Penalty for doing so is loss of pins for that ball; the bowler shoots at a new rack of ten pins (which counts as a spare if all are knocked down).

Automatic Pinsetter
First used in the 1940s, the original editions took note of the pins left, swept the entire area, and reset the pins for the spare. This invention is credited for the great bowling boom of the 1950s; the inventor received $1 million from AMF.

Axis Leverage
Drilling or layout pattern with the center of gravity (c.g.) located on the bowler’s positive axis point (P.A.P.) and the pin in the leverage position.

Axis of Rotation
(Example, 0, 45, and 90 degrees) This is a measure of the direction of the initial rotation on the ball with respect to the lane. It is a measurement of the angle between the initial spin axis and the foul line running across the lane. A zero degree axis of rotation is all forward roll. The rotation on the ball is in the direction of the forward travel. The rotation will help keep the ball in the initial direction. The ball will not hook very much. It will roll out early. Therefore, a bowler with this style will need balls drilled to go long. A 90-degree axis of rotation is most likely all side roll. The rotation is perpendicular to the initial direction. The rotation is trying to make the ball hook at a 90-degree angle to the initial direction. This gives the ball more potential to hook. This style causes the ball to skid further down the lane and then hook more. A bowler with this style will most likely need balls drilled to hook earlier; such as axis weight, or pins closer to their axis.

Axis Tilt
(Example, a spinner versus a full roller) This is a measure of the angle of the initial spin axis to a horizontal plane. A full roller or high track style would have little or no axis tilt. The initial spin axis would be parallel or close to parallel with the lane surface. One rotation of the ball would cover the major diameter of the ball. A spinner would have an initial spin axis tilted up from the lane. The ball track would be far away from the thumb and finger holes. One rotation of the ball would cover a much smaller diameter than other bowlers. The spinner style will get the ball further down the lane before it hooks.

Axis Weight
Axis weight is a drilling pattern designed to produce little or no track flare and get the ball into an early roll with little backend reaction. Axis weight has the pin located on or near the bowler’s PAP. The core is positioned along the initial spin axis. This places the core in a stable position. The ball will be initially rotating about the minimum RG axis, which is a stable core position. Therefore, it will continue to rotate about this axis creating no track flare. This reduces the backend reaction. Since the ball is rotating about the low RG axis it is easier for the bowler to rotate it off their hand which gets the ball into an earlier roll.

Baby Split
A baby split is defined as a split with very little space between them. It is almost impossible to get your bowling ball between the two pins without hitting either. Example: The 2-7 or 3-10 splits.

Baby the ball
Too delicate, not enough emphasis on delivering the ball with authority; released too carefully.

Back Swing
The path of the arm behind the body during the next to last step in the delivery.

The last 20ft. of a bowling lane. This is where big hook bowlers like to see the majority of movement in their bowling ball.

A ball that falls away to the right (for right-handers) or left (for left-handers).

Backup alley
A lane that holds or tends to stop a ball from rolling to the right (or left for left-handers).

Bag Size
Bowling Ball Bags come in various sizes that hold from one ball up to six bowling balls.

Bag Style
Bowling ball bags come in two styles. Either as a Tote(Non Roller) which you carry by hand or on your shoulder, or as a Roller with wheels for rolling around.

A term indicating consecutive strikes thrown that is preceded by a number. Ex: three bagger = three strikes in a row, seven bagger = seven strikes in a row.

Baker System
Each member of a five-person team rolls two frames to comprise a normal 10-frame game. The leadoff bowler rolls in the first and sixth frames; the second bowler throws the second and seventh frames, and so on. This format emphasizes the team concept in which many high schools and colleges around the country use during competitions.

Balance Hole
This is an extra hole (balance hole or weight hole) in a ball which is used to get the ball within ABC specifications for imbalance (static balance). The maximum allowable diameter is 1-1/4″ for ABC and WIBC sanctioned play and 1-3/8″ for the PBA.

1) An incomplete approach in which the bowler does not deliver the ball; 2) to interfere or cause another bowler to stop his approach or not complete it in his normal fashion.

Ball Rack
1) Where the ball rests before it is rolled and after it returns from the pit; 2) the structure used to store house balls.

Ball Return
Track between the lanes the ball travels on when being returned to the bowler.

Ball Track
Area on lane where most balls are rolled.

A slight, powerless hit on the headpin.

A pin hidden behind another pin; 1-5, 2-8, 3-9.

The entire area a lane is set into, from the approach to the pit, including the channels.

The 7-10 split.

Beer frame
In team play, when all players strike, the one who doesn¹t must treat (usually liquid refreshments). May also be the low scorer in a designated frame (often the 7th frame).

Belly the ball
Increase the width (number of boards ball crosses from its maximum outside position) of a hook from an inside starting angle.

Bench work
Any type of conversation or actions intended to upset an opponent. (bench jockeying)

Hooking or curving shot that comes close to the channel before breaking into the pocket.

Berlin Wall
See “Blended condition”

Rounding of thumb and or finger holes to smooth their edges.

Pin hidden behind another pin.

Big ball
A working hook that enables a bowler to carry strikes on less-than-perfect pocket hits.

Big ears
The 4-6-7-10 split.

Big fill
Nine or ten pins on a spare, or a double on a strike.

Big five
Spare leave of three on one side and two on the other.

Big four
The 4-6-7-10 split.

Blended condition
Oil pattern resulting from lanes with a slight depression in the middle; proprietors compensate by “accidentally” over-oiling, resulting in a “regular blended block.” If the contrast from the oily center to the dry sides is very great, it’s called a “Berlin Wall.” A blocked condition around one arrow (usually the second arrow) is a “tunnel block.” When the block narrows toward the pins, it¹s a “funnel block.” If you can find the edge of a block, the edge will move toward the center as the oil evaporates. A “reverse block” has more oil on the sides and less in the middle; thus the edge will move outward as the oil evaporates (and can be followed outward).

Score allowed for an absent member, usually the average minus ten or a set score (for example, 140 for men and 120 for women); considered a penalty. Many league rules define “Blind” and “Absentee” with different qualifications.

When a team member does not show they are considered absent. A score is usually calculated from their average and given to them as a blind score.

Blocked lanes
A lane maintenance condition in which oil or some sort of lane finish is used to create a track; almost always results in high scoring. [see “Blended condition”]

A missed spare. (error, miss, open)

Blow a rack
A solid strike hit.

Downing all the pins but one. (tap)

An individual piece of the lane (total of 40 or sometimes 41) which run its length and are numbered from 1 on the right for right-handers and from 1 on the left for left-handers.

Body English
Contortion of arms, legs and trunk in an attempt to steer the ball after it has left the hand.

In match play, pins awarded for winning the game, usually 30 or 50.

Bowling Hand
When purchasing shoes, it is important to know which hand you bowl with because most bowling shoes have a slide sole and a traction shoe. If you bowl with your right hand, you will probably slide with your left foot. Universal shoes have slide soles on both shoes(or are interchangeable) so it doesn’t matter which hand you bowl with. For more information watch TalkBowling episode #5 at www.TalkBowling.com.

Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA)
Trade organization of the people who own bowling centers; publishes Bowling Digest magazine.

Bowling shoes
Special shoes for bowlers have a sticky, rubbery sole on the non-sliding foot to act as a brake and a slicker, harder sole on the other foot to allow sliding on the last step.

A single frame.

1) A lucky shot; 2) a stopper after a number of consecutive strikes.

Break of the boards
Area approximately twenty feet from the foul line where the maple boards meet the pine boards. Hard maple boards are used between the foul line and the break of the boards to with stand the impact of bowling balls. (dovetails, piano keys, splice)

Distance separating finger holes (as opposed to span, the distance between the thumb hole and middle finger hole).

When a ball crosses over the headpin i.e., when shooting for the 1-3 pocket the ball goes left and hits the 1-2 side.

Broom ball
A ball that hits the 1-3 pocket in such a way that the pins scatter as though they were swept with a broom.

A person who travels with a group of bowlers that usually spend more money than they make. This person performs many duties which includes driving the truck, dressing the lanes, drilling the balls, weighing in the balls, and selling gift items to unaware bowlers. Also refers to a person trying to get their ducks in a row.

Four-pin diamond on sides or center of lane (2-4-5-8, 3-5-6-9, or 1-2-3-5). (dinner bucket)

When a pin stands on an apparent perfect strike hit. (rap, tap, touch)

Three open frames in a row.

Call the numbers
Pins left standing are always announced in numerical sequence (1­2­6­7, not 1­2­7­6).

Ability of the ball to knock down the pins (as in “carry more pins”). CC: A 200 game; stands for “double century.”

Oil that is pushed or carried down the lane by bowling balls when the lane is in use.

Center of Gravity
The position in which the ball is evenly balanced statically from the right side to left side and from the finger quadrant to the thumb quadrant. The perfect balance point where the weight on any straight line drawn through the c.g. is zero on either side of the c.g.. This spot is usually indicated by the position of the label or a punch mark.

CG – See Center of Gravity

Changeable Heel
Some bowling shoes have a changeable heel that allows you to slide more or less. Or if your heel is getting worn down from use, you can just put a new one on.

Changeable Sole
Some bowling shoes make it possible to remove one sole and replace with another. If one wears out, you can replace it with the same, or if you want to slide more or less than you currently are, you can just put a different sole on.

Depression approximately 9.5 inches wide to the right and the left of the lane to guide the ball to the pit should it leave the playing surface. (gutter)

Term used by pros to described a sensational spurt of high scoring.

Records kept by bowlers to remind them of which shot to play on a given lane.

Chopping off the front pin by driving it straight back past any other standing pins to the right or left.

1) Failure to accomplish objective because of nervousness or fright; 2) cutting arm swing short. (apple)

Chopping the front pin of a spare leave while a pin behind and/or to the left or right remains standing. (cherry)

Christmas Tree
A conditioning (oil) pattern. The oil is tapered from right to left and long ways down the lane, tapering into a point. The pattern if viewed from above would resemble a christmas tree with the base beginning at the foul line. The taper may be varying differences.

The 8-10 split.

Leagues or tournaments with average limitations.

Clean game
Strike or spare in each frame (i.e., no open frames).

The 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10.

Pressure situation.

Coeffiicient of Friction
The coefficient of friction (also called COF, or friction) is a measurement of the force it takes to slide an object across another surface divided by the object’s weight. In bowling, the coefficient of friction refers to how well the bowling ball grabs the lane surface. If lane oil is present the ball slides on the lane surface very easily and there is a low COF. If there is no oil on the lane, the ball does not slide as easily and the coefficient of friction is high. A more aggressive shell material has an even higher coefficient of friction. The greater the coefficient of friction, the sooner the ball will grab the lane and hook.

Come up
Hook into the pocket caused by spin on the axis.

“Making” a spare; i.e., knocking down all the pins that remain with a second ball. Usually used only when remarking on the conversion of splits.

The inner portion of the bowling ball which influences ball reaction based on its density and position.

The number of pins knocked down on the first ball.

Counting marks
In team competition, it is common to total the number of marks per frame as the frame is completed. A spare or strike is one mark; a double is two marks, a turkey is three. See also “take off a mark.”

The outer shell of the bowling ball which can be constructed with a variety of materials such as rubber, polyester, and urethane.

Cracked thumb
Actual cracks that appear on the calluses of a bowler¹s thumb.

A bowler who puts a lot of revolutions on the ball.

A strike produced by missing the head pin. Usually the 4, 2, and 1 fall slowly onto each other in that order (or 6, 3, 1) in domino fashion.

Slow ball.

Crooked arm
Hook ball bowler who tends to bend his elbow.

A ball going to the 1-2 pocket side for a right hander, 1-3 side for left hander. See also, Brooklyn

Crow hopper
Loose, claw-like grip on ball at release point.

Anchor man missing in final frame when a spare would have won for his team.

Ball that breaks from right to left (for right-handers) in a huge arc (and vice-versa for lefties).

Padding at rear of pit to absorb shock of ball and pins.

Sharp-breaking hook which seems to slice the pins down.

“Dead on arrival”; a ball with no action or power on it often resulting in a split.

The “arrows” located between 12 and 16 feet beyond the foul line; used for targeting. The ABC requires that each dart be no more than 1­1/4″ in width, 6″ in length, and must be equidistant from each other.

Dead apple, dead ball
Ball that fades or deflects badly when it hits the pins; very ineffective.

Dead wood
Pins knocked down but remaining on the lane or in the gutter; must be removed before continuing play.

The surface on which the pins are spotted. The pin deck at the end of the lane has ten dots, called pin spots, that are .30 m (1 ft) apart.

The movement of the ball when it comes into contact with the pins and angles away to one side or the other.

Preparation + Release + Follow-through

A unit of fineness for rayon, nylon, and silk fibers, based on a standard mass per length of 1 gram per 9,000 meters of yarn.

A 200 game or 200 average; see also “par.”

The difference between the maximum and minimum Radius of Gyration. RG-differential indicates the bowling ball’s track flare potential. The higher the number the greater the track flare potential.

The difference in the Radius of Gyration or RG on the x-axis and the y-axis. RG differential indicates the amount of flare potential of a bowling ball.

Dime store
The 5-10 split (5-7 is the “Kresge”). (Woolworth)

Dinner bucket
Four-pin diamond on sides or center of lane (2-4-5-8, 3-5-6-9, or 1-2-3-5). (bucket)

The gutter or the very edge of the lane.

The action of a ball that hooks greatly at the last split second.

Division boards
Where the pine and maple meet on a lane; see also “break of the boards.”

A bowling ball over the legal weight or out of legal balance.

Dots on the approach are used to set the bowler’s feet at the start of the approach. Dots on the lane can be used to put the ball down on/toward or to swing thorough a visualized line between the dots and the arrows.

Two strikes in succession.

Double pinochle
The 4-6-7-10 split. (big ears, big four, golden gate)

Double wood
Two pins when one is directly behind the other; 1-5, 2-8, 3-9. (barmaid, bicycle, double wood, one­in­the­dark, sleeper, tandem)

Area of lane where maple and pine boards join. (break of the boards, piano keys, splice)

Another name for alley or lane. Also the revolving action of a ball as it contacts the pins.

Dry, dry lanes
Lanes with very little oil applied to them.

Score allowed for an absent member, usually the average minus ten or a set score (for example, 140 for men and 120 for women); considered a penalty. (blind)

Dump the ball
Releasing the ball without bending the knee; may damage the lane.

A device used to measure the hardness of a bowling ball. The USBC limits the hardness to be no less than 72D.

Dutch 200
A game of exactly 200 made by alternate strikes or spares.

Early foundation
A strike in the eighth frame; see also “foundation.”

The logo on a bowling ball, usually signifying the heaviest part of the ball.

Last 5-6 feet of the lane where the pins stand. Correct term is “back ends.”

A miss. (blow, miss, open)

Faith, Hope, Charity
The 2-7-10 or 3-7-10 split. (Christmas tree)

In different sections of the country the meaning is the opposite. In one area (A) it means a lane that allows a ball to hook easily, while in another area (B) it means a lane that holds down the hook.

Fence Posts
The 7-10 split. (bed posts, goal posts, mule ears, snake eyes)

Field Goal
Ball rolled between two pins of a wide split.

Pins knocked down following a spare or following two strikes which are added to the ten or twenty pins, respectively, when scoring.

Fill Ball / Fill Frame
Final 10th-frame shot which adds ten or less pins.

Finger grips
Inserts which can be placed into the finger and/or thumb holes to allow the bowler to both hang onto the ball better and impart spin at delivery.

Type of bowling ball grip where the fingers are far enough from the thumb that they can only be inserted into the ball as deep as the first joint. Allows a great amount of spin to be imparted to the ball because of the large span between thumb and fingers, but requires a strong wrist and much practice to master.

Type of bowling ball grip where the fingers are far enough from the thumb that they can only be inserted into the ball as deep as the first joint. Allows a great amount of spin to be imparted to the ball because of the large span between thumb and fingers, but requires a strong wrist and much practice to master.

The finish of a bowling ball is for more than just looks. A polished bowling ball will travel further down the lane before hooking. This may mean more overall hook because the bowling ball will have a chance to store more energy. While a duller(sanded) ball may hook a little earlier. Which finish you choose will often depend on the lane conditions.

Fit Split
Any split where it¹s possible for the ball to hit both pins

Five strikes in a row.

Describes the ball track progression from the bowler’s axis of rotation to the ball’s preferred spin axis, due to strength of core and friction on the lane.

Flat Alley
A lane that despite perfect levelness doesn’t run or hold with respect to the action of the ball.

Flat Arc
The curved path of a ball in process of delivery when it is too low to the approach or off to either side and so not part of a perfect circle.

Flat ball
Ineffective ball; few revolutions, little action.

A ball that goes where the lane lets it; the ball is released badly with no particular lift or turn

Flying elbow
See “chicken wing.”

Motion after release. Should be toward the pin you’re aiming at and may include a second “shadow” swing without the ball.

Forward Pitch
Finger or thumb hole angled toward center of ball.

Touching or going beyond the foul line while delivering the ball.

Foul Line
The mark that determines the beginning of the lane, 60′ this side of the head pin, where the gutters start. Usually red. Has detector lights (“foul lights”) and a buzzer to alert your team and opponents to your clumsiness. Crossing it gets you a count of zero for that ball and, if on the first ball, a shot at a new rack of pins.

A strike in the ninth frame; base for three possible strikes in the tenth frame.

Four Bagger
Four strikes in a row.

Four-step line
Usually a row of dots closest to the foul line; the dots further back are for five-step deliveries.

One-tenth of a game. Each square on score sheet is one frame.

Frozen rope
A ball rolled with excessive speed almost straight into the pocket.

Decrease revolutions on the ball; a weak shot producing a weak ball, done on purpose to cut down the hook.

Full Hit
A ball striking near the center of the head pin on a strike attempt or the middle of any pin you may be aiming at.

Full Roller
This is a bowling style where the ball will track between the finger and thumb hole.

Funnel Block
See “Blended condition.”

Garbage hit
A hit that doesn’t enter the pocket but results in a strike anyway.

Getting the Wood
1) A better than average score; 2) making sure you take one pin down (or as many pins as is easily possible) on an almost impossible split.

Goal Posts
The 7-10 split. (bedposts, fence posts, mule ears, snake eyes)

Golden Gate
The 4-6-7-10 split. (big ears, big four, double pinochle)

Means the friction between the lane and the ball is good, causing a sudden hook.

Grandma’s Teeth
A random array of pins left standing.

An effective ball, particularly on light pocket hits.

Low-scoring lanes. In a high-scoring center, applied to the lowest scoring pair.

Greek Church
Split leave when three pins remain standing on one side of the lane and two on the other (the pins resemble church steeples).

Ball track or indentation in lane. Also applied to bowler who is performing well and has his approach and armswing almost mechanically perfect.

Depression approximately 9.5 inches wide to the right and the left of the lane to guide the ball to the pit should it leave the playing surface. (channel)

Gutter Ball
A bowling ball delivery which rolls off the lane into the gutter.

Gutter Shot
Technique developed by pros of rolling ball from extreme edge of lane, usually the first inch.

Half Hit
Midway between a full and a light hit.

Throwing four strikes in a row (Courtesy of PBA announcer Rob Stone). This is also known as a four-bagger.

Pins awarded to individuals or teams in an attempt to equalize competition.

Hard Way
1)Rolling 200 by alternating strikes and spares (Dutch 200), 2) Making the 2-7 or 3-10 by deflecting the front pin into the back, rather than hitting both pins with the ball.

Head Pin
Front or Number 1 pin of a rack.

This is the front part of the lane. Also called the maple area of the lane because of the material from which it is made (on wood lanes).

A style of play used quite a bit overseas. Basically the ball spins like a top and goes straight, instead of at an angle meant for hooking. You can see an example of it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mz4wHahI7k&NR=1

High Board
Due to atmospheric conditions, a board in a lane may expand or contract a tiny bit, but enough to change the course of a ball rolling in that area. Most boards contract, leaving a low area or a low board, but it is still (mis)termed a high board.

High Hit
1)Ball contacting a pin near its center, 2) A first ball that hits the center of the head pin.

High RG Drilling
This is a drilling pattern where the pin is located at approximately 90 degrees (or 6 to 6-3/4 inches) to the PAP. It is called this because the core is initially rotating around its highest RG axis off the bowler’s hand. This results in the ball skidding further down the lane before hooking. The pin may be positioned close to or in the bowler’s track.

More to the left (for right-handers, and vice versa for lefties).

Hold, holding alley
A lane that resists the hooking action of a ball.

Holds Shoes
A simple yes or no whether the bag was designed to hold shoes or not. It does not guarantee that your shoes will fit.

1) The 1-3 pocket, 1-2 for lefties; 2) another name for “split” (railroad), 4) an open

Home Alley
Favorite lane or pair of lanes for individual or teams.

A good ball

A ball that breaks (changes direction) sharply toward the pocket.

Hook Alley
A lane on which the ball will hook easily.

Hook Out
Also known as roll out. This is when the ball has completed hooking and begins to travel in a straight line. The stages of the ball path are described as skid, hook and roll. After the ball skids on the oil and hooks on the dry backends, it will eventually start to just roll. This is hook out.

Hook Potential
Generally, the term hook describes the relative hook potential of a particular bowling ball. Bowling balls with high Differential of RG numbers generally will hook more than will bowling balls with low Differential. The term Flare Potential is another way hook potential is described.

When a bowler or team starts lining up strikes.

Bowling center.

House Ball
Bowling ball provided by the center.

In There
A good pocket hit.

A starting point near the center of the lane (as opposed to the outside, near the edge of the lane) usually referring to the point of release.

Force the ball high into the pocket.

Jersey, Jersey Side
To the left of the headpin (for right-handers, and vice versa for lefties)

Synonym for bowler.

Kick Off
Smooth, effective ball delivery.

Vertical division between lanes at the pit end. On many hits the pins bounce from the kickback knocking additional pins down. (sideboards)

Kill the Ball
Take the spin or action off the ball by not lifting or spinning at the release so that it runs straight and maximizes accuracy.

Kindling wood
Light pins.

The headpin or the number 5 pin, varying with local usage.

Money collected from team members for misses, low games, and other set fines. Used to defray expenses in tournaments or divided equally at end of season.

Whereas the 5-10 split is called the Woolworth or Dime Store, the 5-7 is often called the Kresge.

Playing surface. Wooden or urethane deck 62’10-3/4″ long and 42 inches wide with ten pins spaced one foot apart 60 feet from the foul line. Pins are on and gutters are at the side, not part of, the lane. Does not include the “approach.”

Lane Condition
Usually addressed as Dry, Medium, Medium-Heavy, and Heavy. Dry means there is very little oil on the lane, up through heavy meaning lots of oil. This is a feel component and can vary from bowler to bowler, even on the same lanes.

Late 10
When the 10 pin hesitates and is the last to go down on a strike.

Leadoff Man
First man in a team lineup.

Pins remaining after the first delivery.

Left lateral pitch, or left side pitch
Finger or thumb hole angled away from palm of hand.

Length describes the relative length of a bowling ball gets before it starts to hook.

Power generated by the sliding and lifting motion of the legs.

Leverage Drilling
This is a drilling pattern that produces the maximum amount of track flare. The pin and CG are located at 3-3/8″ from the bowler’s PAP which places the core at a 45-degree angle to the axis line. This is an unstable position for a dynamic core. The core wants to move away from this location causing track flare. The track flare increases the friction between the ball and lane, which gets the ball into an early roll. Depending on the bowler’s style, the added friction can sometimes increase the sharpness of the turn at the break point (especially for low RPM bowlers); or for others (especially higher RPM bowlers), cause the ball to slow down too much in the oil. This uses up the energy in the oil where the ball cannot hook very easily and reduces the turn at the break point.

The upward motion of the ball imparted by the fingers at the point of release.

Not full on the target pin; too much on the Jersey side.

Light seven
A hit too light on either side of the head pin resulting in the 2-4-5 or 3-5-6.

Light wood
Bowling pins that weight between three pounds and three pounds-two ounces. Three-pound six-ounce pins are required for ABC competition, but light pins produce higher scores (and, from a proprietor¹s viewpoint, shorter games).

The 5-7-10 split.

1) The path a bowling ball takes; 2) one game of bowling.

Line Ball
Straight shot at pocket on and over second arrow, breaks at back into pocket. For relatively straight ball players without huge hook. See also “swing shot” and “point shot.”

Not lifting or turning the ball properly, with the result that the ball lags and doesn¹t reach the target, usually rolling off to the right.

Portion of the swing usually associated with how far past the foul line the ball travels before it hits the lane; may be modified to increase or decrease the ball’s axis of rotation.

Throwing the ball in the air beyond the foul line.

Very heavy pins, up to four pounds in weight, used for practice.

An extra-wide hook ball, usually slow.

Loose Hit
A light pocket hit, closer to directly in the 3-pin rather than on the headpin, as opposed to a high hit.

Lose Count
To miss count of pins that could be knocked down. Caused by the way score is kept; a bowler on a strike leaving four on the first ball and two on the second “loses count” of the remaining four pins since the total of the next two balls is added when on a strike.

Love Tap
A tap from a moving pin, usually off the wall/sideboard, which delicately knocks it down.

Light or thin hit on the headpin (“low in the pocket”), as opposed to a high hit.

Makeable split
Any split which does not have the two pins closest to the foul line parallel with each other.


1) A strike or spare; 2) the point on the lane where the bowler intends to put the ball down or otherwise use as a target.

Mass Bias
The part of a bowling ball in which the internal mass of a bowling ball is closest to the outside edge of the coverstock. This does not include the pin.

Match Play
Portion of a tournament in which bowlers are pitted individually (one-on-one) against each other (rather than against the field).

Medal Play
Strictly total pin scores (in other words, series, not per game or with handicap).

A pin that comes rolling across the lane after most or all of the others have fallen.

When a pin comes across the deck i.e., right to left or left to right off the side boards.

Technically a rock material. It is added to balls to pearlize them. Pearlized balls normally skid further and then snap harder. Some new types (sizes) of mica are being added to balls to affect their performance. Some actually help a ball skid in the oil creating a snap at the break point.

Mid Line
This is a terminology used on drill sheets. It is the horizontal line that extends from the center of the grip at 90 degrees towards the PAP (positive axis point).

A missed spare. (blow, error, open)

Mister Average
Name given to an absent bowler (whose average is used). It’s Mrs. Average if the bowler is a lady.

Ball with action causing the pins to bounce around.

Nickname for the gutter

1) The 7 pin; 2) the back pin in a sleeper situation.

Move In
To start from or near the center of the approach.

Move Out
To start from or near a corner position on the approach.

Mule Ears
The 7-10 split. (bedposts, fence posts, goal posts, snake eyes)

Baby split (2-7, 3-10).

No Tap Bowling
Where a bowler receives a strike for knocking down less than 10 pins. For example, a bowler would receive a strike for knocking over 9 pins in 9-pin no tap.

Nose Hit
A first ball full on the headpin; hitting the pins dead center.

Nothing Ball
Ineffective ball.

Off the Sheet
Finishing a game from any frame with nothing but strikes.

On the Nose
A head-on hit to the headpin; frequently causes a split.

Rear pin in the 1-5, 2-8 or 3-9 spare. (barmaid, bicycle, double wood, mother­-in­-law, sleeper, tandem)

A frame that doesn’t have a strike or spare. (blow, error, miss)

Open Bowling
Non-league or non-tournament play, for fun or practice.

Out and in
A wide hook rolled from the center of the lane toward the gutter; the ball hooks back to the pocket, going out, then in.

Out of Bounds
Area on the lanes where the ball won’t make it back to the pocket.

Corner or near corner position of playing lanes; use is not as extreme as “gutter shot.”

In professional bowling, 200 per game is considered “par.” The number of pins above 200 is the number of pins “over”, or in the black.

To apply too much spin to the ball and not enough finger lift, preventing the ball from having proper action. When the thumb stays in too long, the ball is said to be overturned. The thumb should come out first, allowing the fingers to lift the ball forward and spin it to the side.

A full count of ten.

See Positive Axis Point

200 game; bowling over or under “par”, etc.

Part of the Building
Expression referring to the 7, 8 or 10 pin when it stands after what seems to be a perfect hit (part of the house).

Perfect Game
Twelve strikes in a row with a count of 30 pins per frame resulting in a score of 300.

To knock down only the front pin from a spare leave. (cherry, chop)

Picket Fence
The 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10 spares. (rail)

Pie / Pie Alley
A lane that is easy to score on.

A polyester or urethane stem which is positioned in the weight block to hold the core in place as the coverstock is poured into the ball mold during the manufacturing process. This represents the top part of the weight block and is usually represented by a colored dot on the surface of the ball.

Pin Bowling
Using the entire rack of pins as a target. Before arrows, and before the break of the boards was noticeable, it was difficult to sight far down the lane since all the boards looked very similar.

Pin Buffer
A Pin Buffer is the horizontal distance between the Pin and your Vertical Axis Line. The pin buffer chosen determines the ‘Angularity’ of the ball motion (smaller distances increase the angle off the break point; larger distances decrease angle).

Pin In
This is a ball that was manufactured with the pin and the center of gravity within 1 1/2″ of one another.

Pin Out
This is a ball that was manufactured with the pin and the center of gravity distance greater than 1 1/2″ from one another.

Pinching the Ball
Gripping the ball too hard.

Lighted display board above the pins showing which ones are standing.

Softer wood used beyond division boards; takes over where the maple “heads” end.

Space at end of lane where ball and pins wind up.

The angle at which a hole is bored in a bowling ball. When facing the grip with the fingers on top and the thumb below – holes that are drilled away from the center of the grip is referred to as reverse. Holes angled or pitched towards the center of the grip is referred to as forward. Right and left pitch is in relation to the hole. Right pitch on the thumb is also called palm pitch since the angle of the thumb is towards the palm.

Part of the lane from the very back of the ball return area to the foul line. (approach, runway)

Plugged Ball
Balls which do not fit a player¹s hand can be re-drilled after being plugged. The PBA does not allow plugged balls.

Area between 1-2 pins for a left and 1-3 pins for a right hander.

Point Shot
Start from first arrow and throw over first arrow; ball goes straight at pocket. See also “swing shot” and “point shot.”

Point the Ball
To aim more directly at the pocket, high and tight.

Poison Ivy
The 3-6-10.

A specific type of coverstock which is comprised of plastic material with limited durability.

To roll a gutter ball.

Position Rounds
Designated parts of a league or tournament schedule which call for teams or players to meet each other based on their standings. First place meets second, third meets fourth, etc.

Positive Axis Point
This is the point on a ball that it wants to initially rotate about when a bowler releases it. The bowler’s style determines this location. It is measured from the center of the grip over a distance along the midline and up or down a distance along the mid plane (vertical axis line).

Pot Game
Competition in which two or more bowlers post some sort of stake and high man takes it all.

Powder puff, puff ball
Slow ball that fails to carry the pins.

A hard, strong ball which strikes.

Of your hand, the ball and other equipment; checking the lane for oil, dirt and a full rack of pins, etc.

A gutter ball.

Pull the rug
To have the ball just touch the headpin, at which time the pins appear to dance until the last second when they all seem to collapse at once, resulting in a strike.

Ball thrown without spin that hits soft.

Punch Out
To end a game from any point with all strikes.

Movement of the ball and starting foot together which begins the “approach.”

Bowling balls are rated for quality. Pro Shops and Internet retailers purchase equipment from the same suppliers and manufacturers. Most equipment released by a manufacturer is First Quality. Occasionally some 2nds/Blems get released into the industry. If we know about them, we mark them as such on our product page.

Quick Eight
A good pocket hit which leaves the 4-7 for right-handers, 6-10 for lefties.

Radius of Gyration
Bowling balls have a RG (Radius of Gyration) converted to a scale of 1-10. RG numbers range from 2.460 to 2.800, but some companies have converted them to a 1-10 scale to help give the consumer a better frame of reference. Mass distribution numbers describe the distribution of mass in the bowling ball. High RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the cover (cover heavy) which promotes length through the heads of the bowling lane. Low RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the center (center heavy) which promotes an earlier roll through the front part of the lane.

1) The 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10 spare; a “little rail” is the rail minus one of the end pins (1, 7, or 10). (picket fence) 2) The outside board of a lane, usually made of harder wood such as maple, which with wear may stand above the inner playing surface and cause balls to track along it rather than go into the channel.

A wide open split with both pins on the same line (4-6, 7-9, 8-10, 7-10). (hole)

Range Finders
Two sets of markers embedded in the surface of the lane. One is a set of ten dots seven feet beyond the foul line. The other is nine feet farther down the lane in a triangular arrangement of seven arrows. Both are used to help establish a target line.

When a single pin remains standing on a good hit. (burner, tap, touch)

Rat Club
A team shooting horribly low scores for one game.

Reactive Resin
A coverstock comprised of similar materials used in urethane formulation, however, blended with different additives. This coverstock provides a “tacky” feeling which translates into additional traction, and usually strong backend reaction.

Reading the Lanes
Discovering whether a lane hooks or holds, and where the best place is to roll the ball to score high.

Hand motion as ball is put onto lane.

Release Date
The bowling industry is constantly releasing new bowling equipment. Technology changes over time, so the release date will give you an idea of how old a product is, or when a new product will come out.

Release Date
The official date the product is eligible for shipping. Products listed before this date will be available for pre-order and will be shipped on this date or when the product is in our warehouse, whichever is later.

Resetting the pins when off spot.

The track on which balls roll from pit to ball rack.

An emphatic backup.

Reverse Block
See “Blended condition.”

Reverse Pitch
Finger or thumb hole angled away from the center of the ball.

The number of turns a ball takes when traveling from the release to the pins.

Bowling balls have a RG (Radius of Gyration) converted to a scale of 1-10. RG numbers range from 2.460 to 2.800, but some companies have converted them to a 1-10 scale to help give the consumer a better frame of reference. Mass distribution numbers describe the distribution of mass in the bowling ball. High RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the cover (cover heavy) which promotes length through the heads of the bowling lane. Low RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the center (center heavy) which promotes an earlier roll through the front part of the lane.

Right lateral pitch, or right side pitch
Finger or thumb hole angled toward palm of hand.

Ringing Ten-Burner
A shot to the pocket which appears to be fine but leaves the 10-pin.

The spin imparted to the ball at the moment of delivery which results in pin “action”; specifically, motion of the pins which is horizontal, rather than vertical, since a horizontally spinning pin covers more of the lane.

Rug Jerker
A 5-pin that is swept out to the right on a strike ball as if someone had jerked the rug out from under it.

Run, running late
A lane on which the ball hooks easily.

Starting area; ends at foul line, where lane begins. (platform, approach)

Competition in accordance with American Bowling Congress or Women¹s International Bowling Congress rules

A person that intentionally bowls poorly, especially at the beginning of a league to reduce their average. Later in the season they bowl to their full potential and can get extra pins from their handicap caused by the intentional low average. These people are normally despised. There have been reports about some sandbaggers doing this as a team. I have seen a case where two people that bowl doubles took turns sitting out a season. That way in the following season’s league they would not have an established average and would walk away making a lot of money.

Sandwich Game
A 200 game scored by alternating strikes and spares. (Dutch 200)

Scenic Route
Path taken by a big curve ball.

Thin-hit strike where pins seem to fall one by one.

Without benefit of handicap; actual score.

A ball drilling that allows the ball to rest on the pads between the second and third joints of the third and fourth fingers. More powerful than a conventional grip, less powerful than a full fingertip grip, it is generally not recommended.

A ball that rolls on a track just outside the thumb-hole. Also called a semi-spinner. This type of ball is considered the most powerful and has displaced the full-roller in professional bowling.

The distance you allow between your standing position and where you want the ball placed on the lane to hit the target.

Ball holding in the pocket.

Shadow ball
A ball rolled in practice without the pins being set, usually for five minutes or just one or two balls before competition play.

Short Pin
A pin rolling on the alley bed which just fails to reach and hit a standing pin.

Shotgun Shot
Rolling the ball from the hip.

Sidearming; sidewheeling
Allowing the arm to draw away from its proper position during back and forward swing.

Vertical division between lanes at the pit end. (kickbacks)

Six strikes in a row.

A pin directly behind another pin; respectively: 8-4, 5-1, 9-3. (barmaid, bicycle, double wood, mother­in­law, one­in­the­dark, tandem)

Land condition highly polished; tends to hold back hook. Not the same as oily.

The last step of the delivery.

Slot / Slot Alley
Lane on which strikes come easy caused by a track worn into the lane.

Slot Grip
A grip on the bowling ball where the area between the third and fourth fingers is drilled away, resulting in one large finger hole.

Small Ball
Type of ball that doesn’t mix the pins; must hit pocket perfectly for strikes.

Snake Eyes
The 7-10 split. (bedposts, fence posts, goal posts, mule ears)

Snow Plow
A ball that clears all the pins for a strike.

Soft alley; soft lane
A lane on which strikes come easy.

Sour Apple
1) Weak ball which leaves the 5-7, 5-10 or 5-7-10 split; 2) specifically, the 5-7-10 split.

Distance between thumb and finger holes.

Knocking down all pins in two deliveries.

Spare Leave
Refers to pins standing after first ball is rolled.

A light-hit strike in which the pins seem to melt away, taking a longer time than other strike hits.

A strike where the pins are downed quickly.

Area of lane where maple and pine boards join. (break of the boards, dovetails, piano keys)

A spare leave in which the headpin is down and the remaining combination of pins have an intermediate pin down immediately ahead of or between them. (hole, railroad)

Split Name – Bed Posts
The 7-10 split.

Split Name – Big Four
The 4-6-7-10 split.

Split Name – Bucket
The 2-4-5-8 for right-handers, 3-5-6-9 for left-handers.

Spot Bowling
Target on lane at which the bowler aims; could be a dot, a board, or an arrow.

The action of the second and third fingers against the thumb, much like snapping the fingers, as they deliver the ball.

To get more pins than you deserve on a strike hit.

Stiff / Stiff Alley
A lane with a tendency to hold a hook ball back.

Strap the Ball
Get maximum lift.

Knocking down all pins with the first ball.

Strike Split
The 8-10 for right-handers and the 7-9 for lefties; ball looks good but splits.

Striking Out
Throwing three strikes in the tenth frame.

Three or more consecutive strikes. Also, in some areas, one game of bowling

The arm and hand motion during the act of delivery over the foul line.

A bowler who is very smooth with both his/her release and approach.

1) A wide-breaking hook which carries a strike as though the pins were pushed with a broom; 2) a night of league bowling, previously designated, where bowling fees go toward high-scoring individuals or teams for that night.

Bowling tournament

Swing Shot
Marshall Holman¹s favorite. Starts at third arrow, goes to second and back to pocket; for bowlers with lots of hook. See “line ball” and “point shot.”

Swiss Cheese Ball
A ball used in pro shops to determine a bowler’s finger size and span for drilling.

Take of a Mark
When counting marks (see counting marks), removing or not adding a mark because a bowler scored five or less on a spare or double.

Two pins, one behind the other. (barmaid, bicycle, double wood, one­in­the­dark, sleeper)

Expression used to describe a single pin that is left standing after what seemed to be a shot where the bowler expected to strike.

Team Captain
Team member responsible for all the members being present, arranging for substitutes, and determining the team lineup.

Telephone Poles
Heavy pins. “The fire’s out”: Common expression used when a string of strikes comes to an end.

Ten in the Pit
A Strike that sends all ten pins into the back leaving none on the pin deck.

Thin Hit
A pocket hit when the ball barely touches the headpin.

Three quarter bucket
Three of the four pins of the bucket; three of the 2-4-5-8, 1-2-3-5, or 3-5-6-9.

Three Quarters
Spot where bowlers place ball upon delivery, midway between right corner and center of lane and three-fourths of the width of the lane from the left corner (vice versa for lefties). A popular starting point.

Throwing Rocks
Piling up strikes with a speed ball.

When the 6-pin gently topples the 10-pin from the channel resulting in a strike; the 6-pin is the “tickler.”

Topping the Ball
At ball release, fingers go over top of ball instead of behind or to the side; ball has little power or action at the pins. Caused by keeping the thumb in the ball too long.

Pin standing on a good hit. (burner, rap, tap)

Path to the pins created by many balls rolled in the same general area.

Three strikes in a row. (turkey)

Tripped 4
When the 2 pin takes out the 4 by bouncing off the kickback.

A strike in which the pins appear to fall individually.

Tunnel Block
See “Blended condition.”

Three strikes in a row.

Motion of the hand and wrist toward pocket area at point of ball release.

These are bowlers somewhere between Crankers (Big hook) and Strokers (Smooth, even arcing player).

Umbrella Ball
A high hit on the nose resulting in a strike.

Professional bowling score below 200.

Up the Hill
Refers to coaxing a ball over a high board into the pocket.

Venting / Vent Hole
Drilling a small hole (not a finger hole) to relieve suction on the thumb hole.

Wash Out
The 1-2-10 or 1-2-4-10 for right-handers and the 1-3-7 or 1-3-6-7 for lefties.

Water in the Ball
A weak ball, one that leaves an 8-10, 5-7 or 5-10.

Distance between the finger holes, usually one-quarter to three-eights of an inch. (bridge)

Weight Block
See Core

Winding Them In
Refers to big-hook-ball bowlers who get their hooks around the pocket consistently.

1) In handicapping, the number of pins given; 2) in scoring, the number of pins knocked down; 3) general reference to a pin or pins.

Wooden Bottles

The 5-10 split (the 5-7 is called the “Kresge”). (dime store)

Working Ball
A ball with enough action to mix the pins on an off-pocket hit and have them scramble each other for a strike. The same ball will break up splits when it hits the nose.

Wrap Around
A tap of the 10-pin when the 6-pin appears to “wrap around” it, missing it.

Wrist Master
One of the many contraptions worn by bowlers designed to help keep a firm wrist during the backswing.

Symbol for strike.

Yank the Shot
When a bowler hangs onto the ball too long and pulls it across his body.

Zero In
Find the right strike spot on a lane.