Bowling is a target sport which is more of a recreational activity than an actual sport. More than 90 countries play it all the time; however, it’s never as popular as it is in the USA. In the states, about 70 million take part in this activity at least once a month. The number of people who play it professionally is also quite big.

Bowling Intro
Welcome to Bowling

In bowling a player rolls a ball towards a number of pins and the goal is to knock down as many of them as possible with the least number of ball rolls. Each player gets two ball rolls to knock down all the pins during one frame. Then he is awarded with points for that frame, depending on how many pins he knocked down. When the new frame starts, the pins are reset.

A strike is achieved when all the pins are knocked down on the first roll, and a spare is achieved if all the pins are knocked over on a second roll. Keep reading to find out more information about bowling.

Bowling History

The earliest forms of bowling can be traced back all the way to Ancient Egypt. There are wall drawings dating back to 5200 B.C. that show something very similar to this sport. On top of that, miniature balls and pins were found in the grave of an Egyptian’s child. About 3 000 years later, the Romans started playing a similar activity. They would throw stone objects as close as possible to other stone objects. This activity eventually evolved into what is known as outdoor bowling.

Bowling History

After that, various versions of the same activity started appearing all over the world. However, all the way up to the 16th century, the sport didn’t have it’s official name. Until the 19th century it was played all around England and the US states at that time. In 1733 Bowling Green in New York City was built on the site of a Dutch cattle market and parade ground, becoming the city’s oldest public park to survive to modern times.

Since then, bowling has been growing into a really popular activity. In the 20th century the Professional Bowlers Association was formed as well as the Professional Women’s Bowling Association. Nevertheless, the latter one was closed in 2003.

Bowling Rules

The game of bowling is very simple. All you need to do is roll the ball and hit the pins. The more pins you hit with the first try, the more points you will get for that frame. The number of played frames depends on the tournament. At the end of all the frames, the points are calculated and a winner is chosen. This can be done either individually or in a team. If it’s a team’s tournament, the points from all the players that are part of the team are counted.

Bowling Rules
Bowling Rules

Each player gets to roll two bowling balls in a single frame. The idea is to knock down all the pins with one roll which is known as a strike and the biggest amount of points is awarded. Some frames allow three rolls to be made, that’s usually for the last frame of the tournament. In that last frame, if you score a strike with the first ball, all the pins are returned again which means that basically, you could score three strikes. This last frame can change the whole outcome. Even if a player was a bit behind, he can turn it around at the end.

Types of Bowling

When we talk about the rules of this sport, we have to mention that it’s classified into two major classes:

There are several different variations in North America but the most popular one is known as Ten-pin bowling. It has the biggest and heaviest pins and a large ball with three finger holes is used to knock them down. Other versions include:

  • Nine-pin bowling: pins usually attached to strings at the tops, uses a ball without finger holes.
  • Candlepin bowling: tallest pins (40 cm), thin with matching ends, bowled with the smallest and lightest (at 1.1 kilograms (2.4 lb)) handheld ball of any bowling sport, and the only form with no fallen pins removed during a frame.
  • Duckpin bowling: 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.

Last but not least we have something called target bowling. This is a type which is played outside on a lawn. The idea is to throw a ball as close as possible to a certain designated point.

How to Play

When it comes to the gameplay, bowling is rather simple. Players wear special shoes because the field is slippery. You need to pick a ball that suits you the best because there are several different weights. You insert your fingers in the three holes on the ball and you roll it across your field so it can hit the pins.

Players and Equipment

Bowlers can be dressed as they want. In team tournaments, they usually wear the same colors which symbolize the team. Everything else is up to the player. They can have custom made shoes and professional bowlers always carry their own ball. That ball is specifically made to fit their grip and weighs a certain amount that makes the bowler play his best game. It’s not too heavy or too light, it’s an exact fit.

Bowling Equipment
Bowling Equipment

However, in tournaments, all the equipment has to be inspected for USBC compliance. This means that the weight and how the ball is drilled needs to be within regulations.


Bowling has little to no officiating at all times. This is because it’s not actually a real sport but morel like an activity or a hobby. Individuals or teams count their own pin points and then add them together to get the final result. Official tournaments might have one official who does the counting and makes sure that the system doesn’t make a counting mistake.

Bowling Organisations and Tournaments

As we mentioned above, ten-pin bowling is the most popular version of the sport and it’s the one that’s played in North America and Canada. Over 70 million people take part in this activity which is why it’s pretty much the only place where this sport can be found in sports betting.

The main organisation that handles all things connected to bowling is the Professional Bowlers Association or simply PBA. The headquarters of this organisation is is located in Seattle, Washington. It has more than 4300 members worldwide. Members include “pro shop” owners and workers, teaching professionals and bowlers who compete in the various events put on by the Association.

PBA Logo
PBA Logo

Here are the professional competitions which are overseen by the PBA:

  • PBA Tour – An annual calendar of events, currently running from January to December each year.
  • PBA50 Tour – Formerly “PBA Senior Tour.”[2] Set up like the PBA Tour, but allowing PBA members 50 years and older to compete in their own events.
  • PBA Regional Tour – Allowing exempt and non-exempt members, and amateurs to compete in weekend events. The Tour consists of seven regions: Central, East, Midwest, Northwest, South, Southwest, and West.[3]
  • PBA Women’s Series – Selected PBA Tour events from 2007 to 2010 included a separate event for female professionals.

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