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Articles: Bowling


Bowling is a game where participants roll balls down an alley, aiming at a collection of pins at the end, in order to knock over as many pins as possible. Although there are several forms to the game, by far the most popular and the object of this article is the ten pin bowling, with a target comprised of ten pins.

The game of rolling a ball down a field to hit a target has its origins in ancient history, with records of both the Romans and the ancient Egyptians playing a game involving balls and a target. The games were sufficiently widespread to be mentioned by the famed historian Herodotus.

The sport of ten pin bowling has its origins in the mid 1800’s in the United States, with the first indoor bowling alley built in 1841 in New York. The rules of the ten pin bowling were codified in 1875 by the National Bowling Association (NBA) in New York City.

The sport of bowling is played by over 100 million people in over 90 countries; it is popular in Europe and North America, and the two most important countries are the United Kingdom and the United States. This sport is especially popular in the USA and is considered a great family pastime as well as a sport.

The game of bowling

The game is played by both men and women of all ages from juniors to seniors. It is played in both a singles and team formats. Bowling has a handicap system similar to golf to allow players of different abilities to compete against each other on a level playing field, although most competitions are played without a handicap or “scratch”.

The sport of ten pin bowling is played in an indoor arena and the bowler balls the ball down a straight narrow area called a Lane. At the bowler’s end, there’s a foul line at the top of the lane which he must not cross. The distance from the foul line to the lead pin is 18.29 meters.

The pins are arranged in a triangular formation with a lead pin at the front, facing the bowler, and the other pins arranged behind it in 3 rows. Bowlers generally wear trousers and a short sleeve shirt; one of the most specialized items bowlers use are special bowling shoes that are designed to give grip on the polished wooden floor, as well as be non-marring so as not to damage the playing area.

Over the years, the balls used in bowling have evolved from wooden ones to the modern polyurethane balls, which are 21.59 cm in diameter and cannot weigh more than 7.26 kg, with the lightest being 2.72 kg. The ball has three holes to enable the bowler to grip it with his fingers. There is one hole for the thumb and two for the middle fingers.

Beginning of play

A game of bowling begins with a coin toss to determine which bowler will throw his ball first. The player will pick up his preferred ball and approach his lane, then line up his shot and bowl his ball.

Rules of bowling

Each game of bowling consists of ten frames; in each frame, the bowler is allowed to ball two balls to attempt to knock down all the pins. If the bowler knocks down all his pins with his first ball, it’s known as a strike and he is awarded a bonus for it. If he needs two balls to knock down all his pins, it is called a spare and he is not awarded a bonus. At the last frame of the match, a bowler is allowed to ball 2 bonus balls if he scores a strike or one bonus ball if he scores a spare.

Scoring in bowling is relatively straight forward: a strike is worth 10 points and a bonus of the total points of the next two balls is added. If a player scores a spare in a frame, he is awarded points equivalent to the total number of pins he knocked over in each of his two balls. There are no ties in ten pin bowling - in case of a tie, a one ball roll off is held and repeated until there is a clear winner.

Matches are officiated by one referee, who is assisted by various electronic systems to ensure pins are replaced accurately, and that a player doesn’t touch or cross the foul line.

Ten pin bowling is governed internationally by the World Tenpin Bowling Association (WBTA) which was founded in 1952, and is part of World Bowling.

Bowling game flow and tactics

There is little tactics involved in bowling since the players don’t interact with each other. Like most games that require concentration, players try and stay focused and concentrate on hitting a perfect ball every time. Most players aim to achieve the perfect game with a score of 300. This is when they bowl 12 strikes in a row, and it carries a huge amount of kudos, similar to scoring a 147 in snooker.

Bowling competitions

Bowling is not an Olympic sport, although there is a movement afoot to make it one. The pinnacle tournament is the WTBA World Championships. For teams, there is the Weber Cup, which is the bowling equivalent of the Ryder Cup held between the US and Europe. There are three prestigious tours held globally in the US, Europe and Asia. In addition, there are some prestigious tournaments such as the World Tenpin Masters and the AMF World Cup. Most of these marquee events and tours are televised on satellite television.

There is no set route to turning professional in Bowling - rather, it is a matter of practice and participating in tournaments, and of rising through the rankings until a player is sufficiently skilled to attract sponsors.

Betting on bowling

There are currently no formal betting markets for ten pin bowling, although most major bookmakers have options to bet on the major televised tournaments and matches. Most bets are straight up bets on match winners, but there is some minor betting on total number of points and strikes scored during a game.