Understanding Bowling Alley Lingo


Heading down to the bowling alley for a night out can be tons of fun. The crashing pins, friendly competition with friends, greasy food, what’s not to love? But if you’re new to bowling, the lingo tossed around the bowling alley can be confusing. As you try to follow the action and bond with your group over strikes and spares, it helps to know the terminology.

Gearing Up

Before you even pick up a ball at the bowling alley, you’ll need shoes. Almost all bowling alleys require you to wear special shoes on the lanes. This keeps dirt and water from ruining the floor. When you go to the front desk, ask to be fitted for bowling shoes to get the right size. Once you have your stylish footwear, you’ll be handed a ball. This round object rolls down the lane to knock over those pesky pins. But not all balls are created equal. Consult the bowling alley staff to find one with the right size and weight for your game.

Throwing Strikes and Gutterballs

As you bowl ball after ball down the smooth wooden lane at the bowling alley, you’ll quickly pick up some common terms. A strike is the best throw you can make. If you knock over all 10 pins with your first roll, you score a strike. Nothing beats that feeling! According to How Stuff Works, if you get three strikes in a row while bowling, it’s called a turkey. On the other end of the spectrum are gutter balls. These are throws that veer off course into the ditch-like channels along each lane. Every bowler hates to see their ball slowly rolling along that embarrassing gutter.

Scoring and Following Your Game

Understanding how your epic strikes and embarrassing gutter balls translate into scores is key. Look above your lane at the scoring system to follow along after each throw. If all your rolls in a frame take out all 10 pins, that’s called a spare. Carefully add up your pins and frames to keep track of your overall score. You can take your bowling alley fun to the next level by joining a league. Sign up with the front desk to play with the same group weekly and compare averages. League night is a great way to improve your skills and come to understand bowling alley culture.

Heading out with friends for wings, drinks, and a few frames at the local bowling alley is always an awesome time. Knowing some of the lingo beforehand helps you confidently follow the action at your lane. Visit our bowling alley today to play a game.