Bowling may have a reputation as a sport for teenagers and more mature adults, but in truth there’s a lot of skill involved.
Ten-pin bowling as we know it now is overwhelmingly associated with the United States, particularly with the thriving youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s. But the origins of bowling as a pastime are believed to stretch back to Ancient Egypt, and the game is thought to have been played in England in medieval times.
European migrants to the early United States are said to have taken the original nine-pin bowling game with them. Since then, it’s evolved into the fast-paced sport we know today. But bowling isn’t just about knocking those pins down as hard as you can – it’s also about relaxing, catching up with friends and developing your game. So no matter what age you are, it’s never too late – or early – to take up bowling
Bowling for beginners
If you’ve never bowled before, the premise is easy to understand: you simply need to knock down the ten pins at the end of the bowling lane with your bowling ball. The more pins you knock down, the higher your score will be. Every player in a bowling game will play 10 frames, each consisting of two turns. If some pins are left standing after your first throw, you get a second consecutive throw. After this throw, your turn is over, even if there are still pins standing. If you knock down all 10 pins on your first throw, this is known as a strike and you won’t get a second throw.
Bowling balls are very heavy and are thrown underarm. Most bowlers begin by stepping back a few paces behind the start of the bowling lane; grip your bowling ball, step forward and throw your ball so it rolls along the lane towards the group of pins at the end. For most first-timers, learning how to throw the ball accurately and effectively can be the trickiest part of the sport. If possible, take some time to practice your throw before you start: this Bowling for Dummies cheat sheet offers some helpful tips.
How to improve your bowling skills
The best way to improve your bowling skills is through regular practice. The more you play, the more comfortable you will become and you’ll develop greater rhythm and accuracy in your game. If you’re bowling with other players in the same lane, try not to think of it as a competitive sport: instead of trying to beat those playing with you, concentrate on beating your own score by knocking down more pins in every frame. The perfect score in a game of bowling is 300, achieved when you throw 10 strikes in a row.
If you’re not seeing any improvement in your long-term game, think about making some adjustments. For example, check that you’re using the right size and weight bowling ball: experiment with a few options to see what works best. Conventional wisdom suggests that your bowling ball should be around 10% of your body weight, so you may be using too light or too heavy a ball.
Doing some online research can also help improve your technique. Epic Bowling, Strikeability and Help with Bowling offer a wide range of tips and advice for both rookies and advanced bowlers. And if you start developing a real interest in the sport, don’t miss the classic footage on Steve’s Bowling Blog, which includes highlights from historic bowling games.