First-Time Bowling Tips

If you’re heading out to take on some bowling for the first time — ever — you’re going to want to brush up on the ins and outs of the game itself. While there may not be a whole lot you can do to avoid looking like a newbie, it helps to have a little info before you head to the lanes the first time.

Finding the Best Ball

When you’re a beginning bowler, you’re likely going to use a house ball that is available for use in a variety of different sizes, and they’re definitely not all the same. The 10-percent guideline is a good place to start — that is, a bowling ball should weigh around 10 percent of your body weight (up to 16 pounds). After settling on a weight, make sure the finger holes fit just right (not too big or too small) and make sure your hand doesn’t stretch too far when gripping the ball.

Perfect Your Throw

Next, you’ll have to approach the lane and toss your ball in hopes of knocking all the pins down. For beginners, you’re going to want to work on shooting straight down the lane because it’s relatively easy and doesn’t require fancy twists or turns.

  • Straighten your wrist. The hand that holds the ball is your bowling hand, and a straight wrist is the way to begin your throw.
  • Keep your bowling hand under the ball.
  • Swing your arm out and back.
  • Release the ball into the lane when it reaches your ankle, while keeping your hand straight and palm up the whole time.

You won’t want to toss a straight shot every time (because flinging the ball down the middle over and over again likely won’t result in good news each time you play). While it can be hard to get a good, quality “hook” with a house ball, you can experiment with different wrist and hand movements over the course of your throw to see if you can get it to budge left or right when needed.

Also, avoid going over the foul line. Not only does this technically nullify your points (probably not in a casual game setting, though), but the surface of the lane itself is super slippery. So if you want to avoid a major bowling faux pas (and falling down in front of a bowling alley full of people and possibly getting injured), treat the foul line as the entrance into sacred territory you shall not cross.

Bowling Lingo

As with most sports and super fun pastime activities, bowling has a lexicon and lingo all its own. Here’s a breakdown of the most common bowling terms and what they mean.

Frame: A bowling game is divided into 10 frames. In each one, each bowler has two chances to knock down all the pins (except for the 10th frame).

Strike: When all 10 pins are knocked down with the first throw, it’s called a strike.

Spare: When all 10 pins are knocked down in two total throws in the same frame.

Deuce: A game of 200 points or more.

Perfect game: A game of all strikes, which results in the game’s max score of 300.

Turkey: Three consecutive strikes.

Gutter ball: A ball that, instead of hitting any of the pins, rolls into the gutter.

Have Fun

Most of all, prepare to have fun. You won’t be a perfect bowler straight away, but with these tips in mind, you may be able to have some success while having a roaring good time.