Common Bowling Terms – Terms Used in Bowling

If you’re a bowling ball player, or even if you just like to watch people bowl, you’ve probably heard some of the following terms. But do you know what they mean?

In this guide, we’ll define some popular bowling terms for you. Once you know what these terms mean, you’ll be able to follow along with the game more easily and communicate with other bowlers better.

So let’s get started!

List of Bowling Terms from A to Z

The following is a list of common bowling terms from in alphabetical order.


The area used to get the ball ready for release.


How a bowler swings their arm or arms during their approach.

Ball Rack

A device used to store bowling balls. Typically a ball rack is a U-shaped device with five racks.

Ball Reaction

The way a ball reacts when it hits the lane.


Ball Return

Refers to the device that returns the bowling balls to the bowler.

Ball Return System

A system that returns bowling balls to the bowler after they are delivered down the lane. A ball return system can be either automatic or manual, but must include a pair of conveyor belts for each set of lanes on the bowling center.

Ball Speed

The speed of a bowling ball during delivery.

Ball Track

A ball area where the ball is getting into contact with the lane.

Bed Posts

A single ball is used to knock down the leftmost and rightmost pins in the back row (number 7 and number 10).

Bowling Ball

The ball used in the sport of bowling. Bowling balls are solid, spherical and can be made from a variety of different materials.

Bowling Alley

An establishment where bowling is played. Bowling alleys are either run by the local government or private companies.

Bowling Lane

The area on which you play your shot.

Bowling Lane Conditioner

A product that is applied to the lane just before bowling, and assists in gripping the ball as it rolls down the lane.

Bowling Pin

The pole located at the end of each pin set on a bowling lane. Pins are knocked over by rolling balls. Different games use different number of pins, e.g. tenpin, fivepin.


A bowling ball rolled down the lane.

Bowler Scores

The total number of pins knocked down by a bowler.

Bowling Center

An establishment that offers lanes for customer use, and is usually equipped with a pro shop or shoe rental. The center may or may not offer other activities, such as arcade games, pool tables, karaoke nights, bar, etc.


Bowling Lane Oil

The oil sprayed on a bowling lane in order to help the ball roll properly.

Break Point

The furthest distance on the lane of a bowler’s ball before heading towards the center pin.

Clean Game

A perfect score in a game of bowling with no open frames.


When two consecutive strikes in one turn are scored.

Double Wood

When two pins are placed directly behind each other after the others have been knocked over on the first roll.

Entry Angle

The angle at which a bowling ball enters into the approach.

Finger Holes

The finger holes are the spots where you slide your fingers into the bowling ball when you grip it.

Foul Line

The boundary line on a bowling lane, behind which balls are not rolled.


A frame is equal to two rolls of each bowler. Ten frames make up a complete game of bowling.


The gutter is the empty space located on both sides of the bowling lane, also known as moat.

Gutter Ball

A ball that rolls into the gutter, or gutters, meaning no score.

Head Pin

The pin located at the end of each set of ten pins, closest to the bowler.


A hook is a type of bowling ball delivery that causes the ball to rotate as it rolls down the lane.

House Ball

A ball provided by the bowling center that is usually not as good as a bowler’s personal ball.

King Pin

The pin located in the center of all ten pins, also known as center pin.

League Play

Team bowling competition. Bowlers compete against other people in their own team, and against teams from other centers.


Left Handed Bowler

A bowler who bowls with their left hand.


A type of release in which the ball is not released directly at the lane, but rather somewhat above it.


The channel on the sides of each lane, also known as gutter.

Open Frames

In bowling, open frame is in which the player doesn’t make a strike or a spare.

Perfect Game

A term used to define bowling a score of 300 in a single game.

Pin Deck Area

This area is located where the pins are set in bowling lanes.

Pin Setter

A machine used to replace fallen pin in bowling.


The area of the lane that is located between the 1 and 3 pin, closest to the bowler. This is a sweet spot often resulting in a strike.

Right Handed Bowler

A bowler who bowls with their right hand.

Sliding Foot

The foot that slides when your body turns when throwing a bowling ball.


When a bowler succeeds in knocking down all ten pins with the two balls of a frame, it’s called a spare. Indicated with a „/” sign.


A spare when two or more separated pins are knocked over by the same ball.


Spot Bowling

A technique where during the throw, bowlers aim towards the dots and arrows on the lane rather than aiming towards the pins.

Straight Ball

A bowling ball that is rolled with no hook or curve, and lands in the same spot every time.


A strike is given to a bowler who can knock down all ten pins with his or her first ball of a frame.

Ten Pins

One of the major types of competitive bowling, played on standard bowling alleys with ten bowling pins.

Thumb Hole

The thumb hole is where you place your thumb during the bowling delivery.


Three consecutive strikes in a row on your first three balls of the game.

United States Bowling Congress or USBC

The organization that oversees the sport of bowling in the United States.


We hope that this list has been helpful and informative. If you need any help with your bowling game, don’t hesitate to explore our site further.

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