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Bowling Terms

February 25, 1993

Alley--This word has been declared politically incorrect by defenders of the sport's image--the term now is bowling center.

Brooklyn--A strike made when a right-handed bowler's ball hits the left side of the head pin, or a left-hander's ball hits the right side of the head pin.

Casino bowling--A number of colored pins (usually three) is added; prizes of cash or Blue Chip stamps are awarded according to specific pin combinations knocked down.

Cherry--The ball knocks down only the front pin or pins in an attempt for a spare.

Frame--One-tenth of a game. A player can roll twice in each frame (except the 10th frame, in which a bowler may roll three times, in the case of a strike or spare). Frame also refers to the squares on the score sheet.

Loft--To throw the ball in the air so it lands on the lane beyond the foul line.

Moonlight bowling (or moonlight madness)--Bowling with all the overhead lighting turned off, so that arrows and other lane markers cannot be seen (the pin deck is lit).

Pocket--The space between two pins.

Spare--To knock down all 10 pins with two balls in the same frame.

Split--When a ball leaves two or more pins standing that are not close together.

Strike--To knock down all 10 pins with the first ball in a frame.

Tap--When a pin remains standing after an apparently perfect hit ( No-tap tournaments count it as a strike when you knock down nine pins on the first ball).

Turkey--Not the frozen kind, although these sometimes figure into bowling. Turkey means three strikes in a row.


Rolling the ball straight is best for beginners, because it's the easiest to throw accurately, although many experienced bowlers use a hook or curve. Watch the delivery of other bowlers; most use a four- or five-step approach, with the ball hitting the top of the backswing when the right foot is forward (for right-handers). A right-handed bowler aims for the pocket between the 1 and 3 pins; a left-hander tries to hit the pocket between the 1 and 2 pins.

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