Bowling Terms

Bowling is more than just rolling a ball and knocking down pins – it’s a game of precision, strategy, and a unique lingo all of its own. Understanding and using bowling terms isn’t just helpful in understanding the game, it’s a part of the fun and excitement that comes with playing.

Being able to use these bowling terms fluently will assist you in fully engaging with the sport. Whether you aim to join a league, impress your friends, or simply want to improve your skills, grasping bowling’s specific language will make you a part of the action.

The basic bowling terms form the core of the bowling language

  • Strike: When all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball in a frame.
  • Spare: Clearing all remaining pins on the second ball in a frame.
  • Turkey: Three strikes in a row – a highly valued achievement.
  • Gutter Ball: When the ball lands in the gutter, missing the pins entirely.
  • Frame: The standard scoring unit, comprising of two opportunities to bowl.
  • Split: When two or more non-adjacent pins are left standing after the first roll.

These bowling terms are just the start. More complex terminology will add depth to your understanding and appreciation of the game.

  • 7-10 Split: A challenging situation with the last two pins standing in the far-right and far-left corners (from a right-handed perspective).
  • Brooklyn Strike: Knocking over the pins from the opposite side of where you’d normally aim. For right-handed bowlers, this means hitting the 1-3 pocket instead of the standard 1-2 pocket.
  • Sleeper: A pin that’s hidden behind another, making it seem like it was knocked over when it wasn’t.
  • Washout: A difficult split leaving 1-2-4-10 or 1-3-6-7-10 standing (from a right-handed perspective).
  • Loft: Intentionally dropping the ball onto the lane instead of a closer release.

Knowing and using these bowling terms can not only help in discussing strategies with others but can also aid in refining your game.

How can you use these terms to improve your bowling technique?

It’s about mindset and approach. Recognize that terms can be situational and that visualizing the terms in play can aid in planning your moves. Not only knowing the bowling terms but adapting your game based on them is vital.


Bowling isn’t just a sport; it’s a community and a culture. The language of bowling unites players, fostering both fellowship and competition. Using these terms in the context of the game is a testament to your respect for bowling and its enthusiasts.

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