Basic elements of the game reviewed | Sports

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, 2019-02-25 01:45:00

Occasionally, we need to be reminded of the fundamental aspect of the sport of bowling, which is knocking down as many pins as possible. With that in mind, let’s review some basic elements of the game. For some, most of this will be “old stuff,” but for others who are new to the game, this might prove beneficial.

As we stated in the above paragraph, the object of the game is to knock down as many pins as possible, so it might help if we knew and understood more about them. (Let’s assume we are bowling 10 pins).

We face them and see they are set up in an equilateral triangle, with the centers of each pin precisely 12 inches apart. The pins are numbered 1-10, and we commonly call the one pin the “head pin.”

If you throw the “perfect strike”, the ball will only hit four pins; the 1-3-5-9 for the right-hander and the 1-2-5-8 for the lefty. All the remaining pins are toppled by the glancing of pins into each other. The remaining pins that are knocked down as a result of deflection is what we call “pin carry.”

There are other important terms we should remember about the pin setup. We call the 1-3 the pocket for the right-handers and the 1-2 the pocket for the southpaw. A “Brooklyn” is getting a strike when you hit the opposite pocket you are supposed to. The 7 and 10 pins are known as the corner pins and are the main culprits for missed spares.

It’s incorrect to call this an optical illusion, but when looking at the pins; it’s hard to realize that the 6 pin is as far away from the 10 pin as is the 9 pin. That may not seem important, but understanding the above will give you a better knowledge of pin carry.

In an earlier paragraph, we said the ball should only hit four pins, and the rest of the knockdown depends on pin deflection (the same holds true for converting multi-pin spares). With that in mind, as you progress in your knowledge of the game, you will begin to become familiar with what kinds of angles you have to use to get that perfect strike or convert that multi pin spare.

Some of the bowling instructors claim that three pins (the 5 pin, the 6 pin for righties and the 4 pin for lefties) are crucial signs of what kind of pin carry and what kind of ball motion you have. Unfortunately, the 5 pin is the most difficult to observe because it is buried by the headpin and the ball as it travels through the pins.

If you throw that perfect strike, the 5 will hit the 8 for righties and the 9 for lefties. But, we know not all strikes are perfect. Bowling instructors can emphasize watching the 6 and 4 pin, but the 5 pin is still the best read on your ball movement.

We’re going to talk about the movement of the 5 pin, but to keep it simple we will limit our discussion to the right-handed bowler. Here is the possible movement of the 5 pin. It can travel between the 8 and the 9, into the 8, between the 7 and 8, into the 7 or in front of the seven.

We want it to hit the 8 pin, but all of the above can occur. If you can learn to watch the 5 pin, you can become skilled at making the proper changes before you lose the pocket.

We’ve discussed the pins, and their role in the game, so let’s move on to the lane. Each lane has 39 boards and the boards are counted right to left for right-handers and left to right for the lefties. However, no matter what hand you use, the 20th board is the middle one.

There are arrows every five boards that are about 15 feet down the lane. These arrows are beneficial when directing your ball. The 1st arrow is at 5 board, 2nd at 10, etc.

There are also dots on the approach that match with the arrows. However, be careful. Some lanes have seven dots, while some have five. If there are only five dots, the first dot is on the 10th board. If there are seven dots, the first dot will be on five board or correspond with the arrows.

Where you stand to hit your target depends on numerous characteristics and can be an article in itself. However, once you find that spot, you might have to make adjustments to get to the pocket. We will take that up in future discussions.

GABE D’ANGELO is a member of the Mercer County Bowling Hall of Fame and Professional Bowlers Writers Association who writes this weekly column for The Herald. He can be reached at

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