This is a list of common terms used in the game of five pin bowling.
Aces: A scoring term used when both corner pins are left standing after the first ball of the frame. Sparing this is very rare and usually requires an element of luck. A very common leave for young children. Aces is denoted by an "A" on automatic scoring systems.
Alphabet Soup: A term used to describe a game bowled by a team in a league where the participants hit the head pin on the first ball consistently, but very few strikes were achieved. This comes from the fact the scoreboard for this game will contain many letters.
Anchor: In league, the last bowler on the team lineup.
Approach: The section of a bowling lane that starts at the wood surface near the bowler enclosure and ends at the foul line. The bowler stands and delivers the bowling ball in this area. Approach may also refer to the technique of delivering a bowling ball.
Arrows: A set of seven arrow-shaped targets arranged in a triangle about 16 feet from the foul line. These serve to help the bowlers take aim properly.
Automatic scoring: A computer that records the scores of bowlers as balls are delivered. This is a standard feature in most metropolitan bowling centers.
Average: A measurement of a bowler's typical score. It is computed as the mean value of all games bowled by a bowler, usually within one league. C5PBA rules require that any fraction of a pin not be included in an average.
Backup Ball: A ball that is thrown with a turn typical of an in-turn in curling. For a right-handed bowler, a backup ball rotates clockwise and will move on the lane from left to right.
Band: A one-inch piece of rubber attached to the belly of a bowling pin - controlling the action of the pins after being hit by the ball. They are usually blue in color, however some centers may employ a red or pink colored band.
Ball Return: An apparatus on a pair of bowling lanes where bowling balls are kept. After balls are bowled, the pinsetting machinery will return the balls to this position. This can be a very hazardous place for a child. Children should be instructed to keep their hands away from the ball return and pick up a ball from the back of the return. It is not to be used as a chair.
Beer Frame: A frame where all but one person on the team score a strike.
Blind Score: A score allocated to a team member who is absent from league on a specific night. It is normally the bowler's current average less ten percent, but this varies by league.
Board: An individual piece of a bowling lane, which runs the length of the lane. On synthetic lanes, an appearance of boards is impressed on the synthetic surface.
Body English: An attempt to coax the ball in a direction after the ball has left the hand.
Bowl Alberta: The Alberta branch of Bowl Canada.
Bowl Canada: The national trade association representing bowling center owners. The official name is the Bowling Proprietors Association of Canada - Bowl Canada is the public branding for the association.
Bowler: One who participates in the game of bowling.
Bowler Enclosure: The area right in front of the approach that contains chairs for the bowlers as well as any necessary apparatus for operating the automatic scoring. Only bowlers, coaches and other authorized personnel are permitted in this area.
Bowling Ball: The equipment that is rolled at pins. It is a perfectly round sphere from 4 3/4 inches to 5 inches in diameter and is made of a hard rubber, urethane or plastic.
Bowling Center: An establishment where bowling can be played. Most of today's bowling centers operate as a retail business, but bowling centers can be found in community centers and private clubs.
Bowling Fee: In league or tournament play, the cost to participate. This includes the cost of bowling, prize money, and applicable taxes.
Bowling Shoes: A special shoe featuring a leather or synthetic sole that can slide on the approach of a bowling lane. These can be rented at every bowling center.
Break: The movement of a ball across multiple boards as it rolls down the lane. A break can also refer to a fluky or lucky shot.
Bumper: A guard that is placed in the gutter to block balls from entering the gutter. They are deployed for families with small children and retracted for other customers.
Canadian Five Pin Bowlers Association (C5PBA): The governing organization for the sport of five pin bowling - responsible for lane regulations and rules.
Channel: Also a gutter - a depression at each side of the bowling lane that collects balls that leave the lane surface. They are round from the foul line to near the pin deck, then are flat at the pin deck.
Check Frame: In league, when everyone on the team scores a strike or spare in the same frame. This can also be called a "Star Frame".
Cherry: Punching the front pin of a spare attempt, leaving the pins further back standing.
Chop Off: A scoring term to describe the first ball of a frame that knocks down the headpin along with the 2 pin and 3 pin on one side. The 3 pin and 2 pin on the opposite side are left standing. It is scored as a "C" on our scoring system, however some scoring systems use the symbol "CO".
Clean Game: A game bowled where there is a strike or spare in each frame.
Club 55+: A program run by Bowl Canada targeting senior aged bowlers above the age of 55 years. Formerly known as the Golden Age Bowlers Club.
Clutch: A pressure situation.
Coach: A person appointed to guide, prepare and motivate a bowler or a team.
Concourse: The common area of the bowling center adjacent to the bowlers enclosure where bowlers, customers and the general public can move through the bowling center. The concourse links the bowlers enclosure of each lane with the control desk, concession, bar, restrooms, and other amenities within the center. The concourse serves as a viewing area for spectators and may include vending services such as snack machines and a jukebox for use by the customer base.
Conversion: Completing a spare.
Corner Pin: The left or right 2-pin. It also refers to leaving one of the 2-pins after the first ball of a frame. This leave is scored as an "L" if the left two pin is left standing and an "R" if the right two pin is left standing.
Curtain (pit end): A protective piece of rubber, leather, or tough synthetic material located in front of the cushion - usually a dark color.
Curtain (team): A bowler that misses a pivotal shot at a key time in the game, resulting in a loss for the team.
Cushion: A padding at the rear of the pit that absorbs the shock of the ball and pins, protecting the wall and other furnishings that may be in the pit area of the house.
Dancing Pins: A nickname for a tangle on a string pinsetter. This term is derived from the pull and release process used by the machine to attempt to untangle the strings. This pull and release results in the pins going up and down behind the shield. The bowler usually hears the pins bounce off the pindeck when a tangle happens.
Dead ball: A ball that is nullfied in accordance with the rules and must be rebowled.
Deadwood: Pins that were knocked down but remain lying on the lane or in the gutter. These are automatically removed by string pinsetters. On free fall pinsetters, the bowler must activate a pickup cycle to clear deadwood before his or her next delivery.
Delivery: The full act of rolling the ball down to lane from set up to release.
Dots: Markings on the approach to help the bowler align his stance.
Double: Two consecutive strikes bowled by the same person in the same game.
Drilled Pin: A bowling pin that has a hole drilled through its vertical axis for use on string pinsetters.
Dust buster: A ball thrown at a moderate to fast speed that goes into the gutter before reaching the arrows.
Fence: A scenario where everybody on a team had an open frame in the same frame.
Five Bagger: Five consecutive strikes bowled by the same person in the same game.
Flat Ball: A ball that is rolled with little spin or rotation - usually ineffective.
Follow Through: The motion of the armswing forward after the ball is released.
Foul: A violation of the foul line - usually touching the foul line with the foot, stepping on the lane surface, or having an item on your person fall onto the playing area. The penalty for a foul is 15 points. Only one foul can be assessed against a ball thrown. A foul may be assessed on a previous ball or possibly the next ball thrown as a penalty for a rules violation.
Foul Detector: A device that detects if a bowler breaches the foul line. Usually uses an infrared beam - if it is breached, it is signaled by a light and possibly a buzzer or bell.
Foul Line: A black line separating the approach from the lane bed.
Foundation frame: The ninth frame.
Four bagger: Four consecutive strikes bowled by the same person in the same game. It recently has been called a hambone.
Frame: One turn for a bowler and one of ten turns in a complete game. It consists of three balls bowled in succession at one rack of pins. A strike or spare ends the frame except in frame 10, where three balls are always thrown.
Free Fall: A type of pinsetter that does not use strings to set and reset pins. This type of machine sweeps spent balls and pins to the pit and sets a new set of pins using a descending pin table. The spent pins and balls are removed from the pit via elevator for reuse and return. These machines are more mechanically complex compared to string pinsetters. This machine can be found in select bowling centers in Manitoba, BC, Ontario, and Quebec.
Game: A string of ten frames, played with regulation equipment.
Garbage hit: A ball that makes a very light hit on the headpin and results in a strike.
Glow Bowling: A special lighting effect in a bowling center that replaces standard flourescent lighting with black lighting. This is normally combined with a combination of gobo lights, fog effects, disco balls, laser effects, and music. The lanes, pins, and other fixtures within the bowling center may glow under black light. This creates a nightclub-like atmosphere. Also known as cosmic bowling, neon bowling, disco bowling. Ask your local bowling center about when glow bowling runs.
Graphic: An animation or picture displayed by an automatic scoring device describing the outcome of a ball.
Grid: The appearance of the scoresheet on an automatic scoring device. Today's modern automatic scoring devices have a "skinned" nature to the grid.
Group Rate: A price point - usually less than rack rate - that is offered to events that can bring a minimum number of participants. These events must be reserved to qualify for a group rate.
Gutter: Also a channel - a depression at each side of the bowling lane that collects balls that leave the lane surface.
Gutter Ball: A ball that goes into the gutter before reaching the pins.
Handicap: Pins/points awarded to individual bowlers or teams in an attempt to equalize competition.
Head pin: The front or middle pin of a full rack of pins.
Head pin (leave): Bowling down only the head pin on the first ball of a frame, leaving two pins on each side of the lane. Very difficult spare. Scored as either the letter "H" or the letters "HP".
Headpin split: Bowling down the head pin and one of the three pins. This leaves both corner pins and one three pin. Normally called a "split" by most automatic scoring systems and thus scored by the letter "S" or the letters "HS". Bowland X scores a split using a red "8".
Hook: Throwing the ball with an "outturn" spin. This ball will break from right to left for a right handed bowler.
House: A bowling center.
House Ball: A bowling ball provided by the bowling center for use by customers.
Judge of Play: A trained official that watches play during a tournament and rules on any disputes or violations.
Kickback: The wall on each side of the pindeck, hard enough to allow pins to bounce off each other.
Killer Shot: A shot that spares a head pin, aces or head pin split. Our scoring system recognizes such a feat using an animation that mentions "killer shot". This is a difficult achievement and requires an element of luck.
Lane: The playing surface where the ball rolls - from the foul line to the pit.
Lanebed: The entire area of the lane including the approach, pit, and gutters.
Lane-Hour: A saleable unit of bowling where the center rents the lane by time. The price is quoted per lane per hour. The start of the actual lane time after the sale is closed is subject to center policy. The automatic scoring will run power to the pinsetter for the designated time and shut off when time is elapsed.
Lane certification: A program run by the C5PBA annually that ensures lanes adhere with the rules and regulations of the game.
Lane Draw: A schedule of players and teams assigned to specific lanes on specific dates and times, either for league or tournament play.
Lane Protection Device: An approved piece of bowling equipment - usually a sheet of plexiglas - that is mounted about 16 feet from the foul line and protects downlane from lofted balls. If a ball makes contact with this, it usually makes a scene given it is loud.
Lead-off: The first bowler in the team lineup.
League: A group consisting of at least four teams, each team carrying from 3 to 6 participants, bowling according to a prearranged schedule. A league may or may not offer prizes.
League Executive: Members of a league who are appointed or elected by the league membership base to oversee the conduct, operation, financials, and other affairs of the league.
League Sanction: Approval given by the C5PBA that the rules, constitution and bylaws of the league are consistent with the policies and the rules of the C5PBA.
Leave: Pins left standing after a ball is rolled.
Letter: A nickname given to a frame where the bowler hit the headpin but did not get a strike. This comes from the fact the first ball is usually scored using a letter and not a number.
Line (of play): The path that a bowling ball takes down the lane.
Line (game): A saleable unit of bowling when the bowling center rents lanes by the game. Most bowling center prices are quoted per line, which is "per person per game". One line of bowling is defined as one person bowling one game (ten frames). If two people wish to bowl two games, four lines (two people times two games) are charged.
Lineage: The component of a fee that is paid to the bowling center representing the cost of use of the lanes. Lineage is subject to GST. HST applies to lineage in provinces that use HST. PST applies to lineage in Quebec, but not in BC, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
Lofting the ball: Throwing the ball well out onto the lane as opposed to rolling it. This act is considered unacceptable by all bowling centers. If the ball makes initial impact past the arrows, significant damage to the lane surface can result.
Lost Ball: A ball that is delivered that either clears a Lane Protection Device or contacts the Lane Protection Device resulting in the unit requiring repositioning. The ball is worth zero points. A lost ball can also be assessed against a previous delivery as a penalty for a rules violation.
Love Tap: A tap from a moving pin - usually off the kickback - that slowly knocks over another pin.
Maple: A hard wood that is used in bowling lane construction. Maple is used on the pindeck, approach, and the first 15 to 18 feet of the lane surface. This wood can withstand the repeated impact of a bowling ball. Maple was also used in early bowling pin construction.
Mark: A strike or spare.
Masking Unit: A wall unit that blocks the view of the pinsetter machinery from normal public view while leaving the pins in view. In some centers this unit may be folded open to reach the pinsetter. It may feature graphics, glow capabilities and can be changeable.
Master Bowlers Association: A national organization with three divisions - a tournament or competitive division, a teaching division (coaches and instructional players) and a seniors division. All YBC coaches at Bowling Depot and other YBC centers are members of the Master Bowlers.
Match Play: A competition where bowlers face each other one against one as opposed to playing against the entire field. Match play competitions may run in league. Tournaments may include round robin and elimination formats. The winner is the bowler with the higher score. A win may result in either standings points or bouns pins.
Missed Shot: A ball that does not knock down any pins without going into the gutter.
No-Tap: A type of non-traditional scoring that awards an automatic strike for a frame if the first ball leaves a left or right corner pin. Any other leave on the first ball results in the frame continuing as a traditional frame.
Open Bowling: A time in a bowling center schedule when bowling lanes may be rented by the general public (also known as public bowling).
Open Frame: A frame without a strike or spare.
Out of Bounds Ball: The term used in the C5PBA rules that identifies a gutter ball.
Party Room: A room within the bowling center that is normally allocated for birthday parties and other groups for celebration after bowling. A center can rent party rooms to non-birthday clientele..
Perfect game: Scoring 12 consecutive strikes in the same game without committing a foul. A rare feat. An average of about 20 perfect games will be bowled across Canada in a calendar year. The Bowling Depot has been the site of two perfect games, including the first perfect game ever bowled at the Youth Bowl Canada Nationals.
Pre-bowl: In league, a series bowled in advance that can be applied on a date when the bowler knows he or she will be absent. Pre-bowling policies vary by league, so consult your league executive regarding pre-bowling.
Pick: To cleanly take out one single pin when bowling at a set of five pins (also referred to as a punch or plug).
Pins: The targets that bowlers attempt to knock down with a bowling ball.
Pin Deck: The end area of the lanes where the pins stand. Usually this is constructed of maple or a synthetic surface.
Pine: A soft wood used for the far section of a wood lane between the maple and the pin deck. This softer wood allows the ball to curve more, but a lofted ball can damage this wood more easily.
Pinfall: Total point value of pins legally knocked down by a bowler.
Pit: The area of the lane behind the pin deck where pins and balls are collected after each delivery.
Pit End: The area of the bowling center from the masking unit wall to the back wall of the entire space occupied by the bowling center. This area includes the pinsetters, ball return equipment, spare pinsetter parts and an emergency exit. Only authorized personnel are permitted in the pit end. However the pit end emergency exit could be used in a fire alarm evacuation. In case of a fire or hearing the fire alarm, always follow the advice of the bowling center.
Playoffs: An extended set of games or series to determine a league or tournament champion. League playoffs may vary from one to three weeks in length.
Pocket: The area at the side of the headpin - if the ball hits the pin here it usually results in a strike.
Power Lift: An automated device at the head of a ball return that uses rotating wheels to lift a returned ball from a sub-lane track to the ball rack. This is not common in five pin bowling lanes.
Private Function: A group event that reserves the entire bowling center.
Prize Money: The portion of a bowling fee that is contributed to the league or tournament committee for the purpose of providing prizes. The prize money may be awarded as cash prizes or used to purchase merchandise prizes or gift cards.
Provisional ball: A ball that is rolled as a potential substitute in event of a dispute surrounding the original ball.
Rack Rate: A synonym for regular price, usually the highest price charged by a bowling center.
Release: The moment when the ball leaves the hand and is put on the lane.
Reset: A re-rack of a full set of five pins.
Rotation: A spin imparted on the ball at the moment of delivery which can result in more dramatic pin action.
Rules: The accepted guidelines and procedures for conducting competition.
Scoresheet: A form used to record ball-by-ball progress of a set of games. Most bowling centers now operate automatic scoring. If automatic scoring is in use, scoresheets of completed games can be printed upon request to the control desk.
Scorekeeper: An individual who records the scores of a bowling game in centers without automatic scoring or when the automatic scoring is not working properly.
Scratch: A gross score without the benefit of handicap.
Series: Two or more games bowled consecutively on the same visit to the bowling center. Most leagues bowl three games. Younger YBC bowlers usually bowl one or two games while more competitive leagues may have four or five games to a series. TOurnaments usually bowl four or five games in a series, but major events can involve from six to ten games in a visit.
Shadow Bowling: A practice method where balls are rolled without pins being set up.
Shield: A guard on a string pinsetter. The guard is deployed to block view of the pindeck while the pinsetter is operating. The pinchaser may descend the shield when the machine is being serviced. When determining if a pin is standing or down by C5PBA rules, the timepoint usually is when the shield starts its descent. Shields may be composed of particleboard, coroplast, or fabric. Some centers may rent their pinsetter shields as advertising space. Never bowl on a lane when the shield is deployed.
Slide: The last step of the approach culminates in the foot sliding on the approach.
Spare: A frame where all the pins were knocked down using the first two balls.
Spare (bowler): A bowler who serves as a replacement bowler on a team within a league when another bowler is injured or absent.
Splice: An area on a wood lane where maple and pine boards join.
Stop: Term used to identify an unplanned stoppage of a pinsetter. For string pinsetters, tangled strings are the most common causes of pinsetter stops.
Strike: All five pins are knocked down using the first ball of the frame.
Strike Out: To get all three available strikes in the tenth frame. May also refer to finishing a game from any point with strikes.
String: A synonym for line, or game of bowling.
String Pinsetter: A pinsetter that employs a series of thin ropes and pulleys to reset the bowling pins. Most five pin bowling centers use this type of pinsetter.
Sweep: A part of a free fall pinsetter that clears the pin deck and channels of pins and balls.
Tap: An apparently perfect shot that resulted in a single pin standing.
Team: A group of two to six bowlers who bowl together in a league or tournament.
Team Captain: A member of the team responsible for the running of the team, ensuring everyone is present, arranging for substitute bowlers, determing the lineup, ensuring everyone is paid.
Time bowling: A bowling purchase that allows the customer(s) to use a lane for a fixed time span (usually one hour) as opposed using the lane to bowl a number of lines. The benefit is that the customers pay a flat rate for whoever is using the lane (plus applicable shoe rental). However, when the allocated time elapses, the automatic scoring and pinsetter will turn off regardless of how many frames to go to complete the current game. Time bowling may not be available in some bowling centers, however some bowling centers implement policies where time bowling is mandatory.
Thunder Alley: The name of our glow bowling service.
Tournament: A meeting where a number of individuals or teams compete for a major prize or championship.
Turkey: Three consecutive strikes in the same game by the same bowler (also known as a triple).
Wait List: A list maintained by the control desk when the bowling center is at capacity. If the center is full, new groups checking in are placed on the list. The list operates on a first-in-first-out basis. When a lane becomes available, the group at the top of the list is called and has the first option to rent the lane. If the group called does not respond within a fixed time, the next group on the list may be called.
Wiggle Woggle: An attachment on a ball return that uses a zig-zag structure to slow down the ball as it is reaches the ball rack. Without this, the ball will enter the ball rack area with enough speed and force that can smash and break fingers. Under no circumstances should any hands or faces be placed in this apparatus or on any part of the up-ramp of the ball return.
Youth Bowl Canada (YBC): A youth bowling membership program conducted by Bowl Canada, designed for bowlers aged 19 and younger. It was previously known as both the Youth Bowling Council and Youth Bowling Canada.