THE BOWLER’S BOWLING DICTIONARY
Last Revised 8/22/95
Original version by:
J. C. Halstead
Updated and revised 7/31/1995 by:
One or two definitions are given; in any given application, it¹s usually one or the other, not both. Synonyms are given in parenthesis (synonym) after the definition.
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)
1) A group of lanes; 2) bowling establishment; 3) playing surface,usually made of maple and pine boards; urethane lanes may soon outnumber wood lanes.
All the way:
Finishing a game from any point with nothing but strikes.
American Bowling Congress (ABC):
The world’s largest sports organization and the official rule-making body of tenpin bowling.
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.
The direction the ball travels when going into the 1-3 pocket (1-2 for lefties). Recent studies [see reference at end] have shown an optimum angle of 4-6 degrees; less or more angle tends to leave pins as the width of the pocket decreases.
1) Bowling ball; 2) bowler who fails to come through in a clutch situation. (choke)
1) Part of the lane from the very back of the ball return area to the foul line. Most approaches are 16′ long; they are required by the ABC to be at least 15′. (platform, runway) 2) Start of the bowler¹s motion, ending with the start of the delivery, which is when the ball begins its final swing forward to the release.
The arc of the bowling arm and hand from the first move toward the line until the delivery of the ball over the line.
Aiming points embedded in the lane. These seven arrows (usually red or black, but may be other colors) are used for targeting. (darts)
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). (foul, foul line)
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.
Baby ball, Baby the ball:
Too delicate, not enough emphasis on delivering the ball with authority; released too carefully.
The 2-7 or 3-10.
Baby split with company:
The 2-7-8 or 3-9-10.
Last 5-6 feet of the lane, including the pin deck. (ends)
A ball that falls away to the right (for right-handers) or left (for left-handers).
A lane that holds or tends to stop a ball from rolling to the right (or left for left-handers).
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.
1) Where the ball rests before it is rolled and after it returns from the pit; 2) the structure used to store house balls.
Track between the lanes the ball travels on when being returned to the bowler.
Area on lane where most balls are rolled.
A slight, powerless hit on the headpin. (thin hit)
A pin hidden behind another pin; 1-5, 2-8, 3-9. (bicycle, double wood, oneinthedark, sleeper, tandem)
The entire area a lane is set into, from the approach to the pit, including the channels.
The 7-10 split. (fence posts, goal posts, mule ears, snake eyes)
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.
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.
See “Blended condition”
Rounding of thumb/finger holes after drilling to smooth their edges.
Pin hidden behind another pin. (barmaid, double wood, oneinthedark, sleeper, tandem)
A working hook that enables a bowler to carry strikes on less-than-perfect pocket hits.
The 4-6-7-10 split. (big four, double pinochle, golden gate)
Nine or ten pins on a spare, or a double on a strike.
Spare leave of three on one side and two on the other.
The 4-6-7-10 split. (big ears, double pinochle, golden gate)
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. (dummy)
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.
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.
A single frame.
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.
Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA):
Trade organization of the people who own bowling centers; publishes Bowling Digest magazine.
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 there the maple boards meet the pines boards. Hard maple boards are used between the foul line and the break of the boards to withstand 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).
A first ball to the left of the headpin for right-handers, to the right of it for left-handers. (cross)
A ball that hits the 1-3 pocket in such a way that the pins scatter as though they were swept with a broom.
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”).
A 200 game; stands for “double century.”
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.
Lanes on which strikes come easy.
Chopping the front pin of a spare leave while a pin behind and/or to the left or right remains standing. (chop)
When a bowler lets his elbow get away from his body during the swing; generally considered an unacceptable style, but has been used by bowlers with physical problems, notably Don Carter, although he used a bent elbow on the backswing only. (flying elbow)
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)
The 3-7-10 or 2-7-10.
The 8-10 split.
Leagues or tournaments with average limitations.
Strike or spare in each frame (i.e., no open frames).
The 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10.
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.
Number of pins knocked down on the first ball of each frame.
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.”
Actual cracks that appear on the calluses of a bowler¹s thumb.
Bowler who uses cranking motion (lift and turn) at the top of the backswing to generate high speed and considerable hooking action.
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.
Hook ball bowler who tends to bend his elbow.
Going to the left side for a right-hander and vice-versa for a lefty. (Brooklyn)
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.
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.
Pins knocked down but remaining on the lane or in the gutter; must be removed before continuing play.
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 200 game or 200 average; see also “par.”
The 5-10 split (5-7 is the “Kresge”). (Woolworth)
Four-pin diamond on sides or center of lane (2-4-5-8, 3-5-6-9, or 1-2-3-5). (bucket)
The action of a ball that hooks greatly at the last split second.
Where the pine and maple meet on a lane; see also “break of the boards.”
“Dead on arrival”; a ball with no action or power on it often resulting in a split.
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.
Dry, dry lanes:
Lanes with very little oil applied to them.
Two strikes in a row; scores twenty plus the number of pins knocked down on the next ball.
The 4-6-7-10 split. (big ears, big four, golden gate)
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.
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 200 game scored by alternating strikes and spares. (sandwich game)
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.
The 7-10 split. (bed posts, goal posts, mule ears, snake eyes)
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.
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.
Any split where it¹s possible for the ball to hit both pins.
Five strikes in a row.
A lane that despite perfect levelness doesn’t run or hold with respect to the action of the ball.
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.
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.
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.
Finger or thumb hole angled toward center of ball.
Touching or going beyond the foul line at delivery.
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 strikes in a row.
Usually a row of dots closest to the foul line; the dots further back are for five-step deliveries.
A tenth part of a game of bowling.
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.
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.
A ball that rolls over its full circumference.
See “Blended condition.”
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.
The 7-10 split. (bedposts, fence posts, mule ears, snake eyes)
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.
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.
Split leave when three pins remain standing on one side of the lane and two on the other (the pins resemble church steeples).