7 Things You Need to Know About Bowling

What longtime bowlers take for granted as common knowledge may not be obvious to the casual bowler or those new to the sport. From choosing the proper equipment to performing on the lanes, there are some essential aspects of bowling every bowler needs to know in order to bowl well, get better, and have fun.

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How to Choose a Bowling Ball

This man selected a bowling ball from the rack of house balls.
Patti McConville/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Most recreational bowlers might never need to worry about which ball to use, figuring the bowling alley has a slew of them available at any given moment. That's true, but if you want to get more serious about bowling, you need your own bowling ball. To know which ball is the best for you, you must determine the ideal weight, cover stock, and drilling pattern to instantly help improve your game. Be sure to get expert help at a pro shop.

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Bowling Ball Cover Stocks

Roto Grip Grenade urethane bowling ball
Roto Grip Grenade urethane bowling ball. Photo courtesy of Storm Products, Inc.

Different bowling balls have different cover stocks (the outer surface of the ball). Each cover stock is designed for a different purpose. Many bowlers build an arsenal of bowling balls to keep them prepared for any shot they need to make. Before choosing a bowling ball, consider the benefits and drawbacks of reactive resin, urethane, and plastic cover stocks. Plastic is designed to go straight. Urethane is a bit more durable and hooks more easily. Reactive resin is less durable than plastic or urethane but has much more hook potential and pin action.

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How to Hold a Bowling Ball

A conventional bowling grip.
A standard bowling grip, referred to as the conventional grip. Photo by Jef Goodger

Once you find a ball that's right for you, the next step is learning how to hold it properly. Throwing (and even holding) a bowling ball with an improper grip can cause injury, not to mention hinder your bowling abilities. The ball is heavy, so you need to hold it the right way to prevent injury and improve your game. There are a number of different ways to grip the ball, but it all starts with the convention grip—the middle and ring fingers placed in the side-by-side holes and the thumb in the other.

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How to Score a Game of Bowling

A manual bowling score sheet.
A manual bowling score sheet. Photo by Jef Goodger

In most bowling alleys these days, machines keep score for you. That doesn't mean you shouldn't know how to do it. Being able to keep score helps you figure out what you need to do in order to achieve certain scores, defeat your opponents, or merely impress your friends with a scoring system that can be extremely confusing at first. After a brief tutorial, the confusion goes away and bowling scoring becomes second nature.

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Why You Should Wear Bowling Shoes

A rack of bowling shoes.
A rack of bowling shoes. Photo by Thinkstock/Getty Images

You might wonder if bowling shoes are part of a scam by bowling alley owners looking to make an extra couple of dollars. Actually, bowling shoes are crucial to the maintenance of the lanes and the safety of all bowlers. To properly release the ball, the bowler's last step is actually a slide. The soles of bowling shoes allow this type of slide and also keep debris—which might hinder the slide—off the lanes.

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The Bowling Pin Rack (Numbering the Pins)

Bowling pins
Bowling pins. Photo by Jef Goodger

The bowling pins are numbered 1 through 10 and stand in a triangle. Since splits and leaves are referred to by numbers (for example, a 7-10 split), it's important to know all about the pin rack— the dimensions and how the pins are numbered—to give you a better understanding of the goal of bowling: knocking down pins.

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The Life of a Bowling Pin

Bowling ball knocking down pins.
Bowling ball knocking down pins.

Bowling pins are created to be abused repeatedly by heavy blunt objects, but they can't take the abuse forever. To broaden your knowledge about bowling, you should learn how long bowling pins last, what materials they are made of, how many sets of pins most bowling alleys keep on hand, how often they change pin sets, and what happens to pins past their prime.

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