A ten-pin bowler releases the ball.

Bowling (1375–1425; late Middle English bowle, variant of boule < Middle French < Latin bulla bubble, knob; compare boil1 , bola +ing)is a sport in which players attempt to score points by rolling a bowling ball along a flat surface, usually a wooden or synthetic surface, either into pins or to get close to a target ball. The most common types includeten-pinnine-pincandlepinduckpin and five-pin bowling, as well as multiple outdoor variations.


The most common bowling is ten pin bowling. In ten pin bowling, matches consist of each player bowling a “game.” Each game is divided into ten “frames.” A frame allows a bowler two chances to knock down all ten pins. The number of pins felled in each frame is recorded, a running total is made as each frame progresses, and the player with the highest score in his game wins the match. Scores can be greater than the actual number of pins felled if strikes or spares are bowled. A “strike” is scored when a player knocks down all pins on the first roll in the frame. Rather than a score of 10 for the frame, the player’s score will be 10 plus the total of the next two rolls in the next frame(s). A “spare” is scored when all pins are knocked down using both rolls in the frame. The player’s score for that frame will be 10 plus the total of the next roll in the next frame. Two consecutive strikes is known as a “double”. Three consecutive strikes is known as a “turkey.” Four consecutive strikes is known as a “hambone” or “four bagger”. Five consecutive strikes is known as a “five bagger” or “dropping the nickel”. Six consecutive strikes is known as a “six-pack”. If a strike is rolled in every frame of the game, the player’s score is 300 and the player has achieved a “perfect game“.

A variation is nine pin tap, a form of bowling where nine pins knocked down counts as a strike.

Ball release techniques and delivery styles

Ball Release

There are typically two different ways to roll a ball down the lane.

  • Straight
Beginners commonly just bowl the ball straight down the lane, hoping to hit the 1 and 2 pocket or the 1 and 3 pocket. When bowling straight like this, people often hold the ball with their hand in a “W” shaped form. What you need to do is actually bowl with the fingers pointing vertically rather than horizontally.
  • Hook/Curve
The hook or curve ball is commonly used by more advanced players. As the bowler releases the ball, the ball starts out straight and then “hooks” because of the rotation the bowler puts on the ball during release. When curving, most people use three fingers while some people use two. Three fingered curvers are more common and say that they have better accuracy.

Delivery Styles

There are three different types of styles used when releasing the ball onto the lane. The three styles are the stroker, cranker and tweener styles.

  • Stroker
People who use the stroker style usually keep their feet square to the foul line. Stroking lessens the ball’s spin rate and therefore decreases its hook/curve potential and hitting power. Strokers use finesse and accuracy.
  • Cranker
Crankers try to create as much spin as possible by using a cupped wrist. Bowlers that use the cranking method often cup their wrist, but open the wrist at the top of the swing. Crankers often use late timing, meaning the foot reaches the foul line before the ball does; this is called “plant and pull”, hardly using any slide on their last step and pulling the ball upwards for leverage. Crankers rely on speed and power.
  • Tweener
Tweeners are bowlers that release the ball in a way that falls somewhere in between stroking and cranking. Tweeners often release the ball with a higher backswing than is normally used by a stroker or a less powerful wrist position than a cranker.

Types of pins Five main variations are found in North America, varying especially in New England and parts of Canada:

  • ten-pin bowling: largest and heaviest pins, bowled with a large ball with finger holes, and the most popular size in North America
  • nine-pin bowling: pins usually attached to strings at the tops, uses a ball without finger holes
  • candlepin: tallest pins, thin with matching ends, and bowled with a handheld ball
  • duckpin: short, squat, and bowled with a handheld ball
  • five-pin bowling: tall, between duckpins and candlepins in diameter with a rubber girdle, bowled with a handheld ball, mostly found in Canada.