Glossary of Terms

ABC: This stands for the American Bowling Congress. ABC was the official rule-making body of tenpin bowling in the United States. It was the men’s bowling association. In 2005, this association was dissolved and became part of the USBC which incorporates the men’s, women’s and youth associations.

Absentee: See Blind

Alley: Slang: bowling establishment, ie a bowling center, the playing surface or lane.

Anchorman: This is last bowler in your lineup. It is often where you place your best bowler on the team so that he/she knows what needs to be bowled to win.

Angle of Entry: The direction the ball travels when going into the 1-3 pocket for right handed bowlers and the 1-2 for left handed bowlers.

Approach: The approach is the area that is at least 15 feet long on which a bowler uses to walk to the fould line.

Armswing: This is the arc of the arm that is used to deliver the bowling ball down the bowline lane.

Arrows: Sighting targets imbedded in the lane to help player align start position.

Axis Leverage: Drilling or layout pattern with the center of gravity (c.g.) located on the bowler’s positive axis point (P.A.P.) and the pin in the leverage position.

Axis of Rotation: (Example, 0, 45, and 90 degrees) This is a measure of the direction of the initial rotation on the ball with respect to the lane. It is a measurement of the angle between the initial spin axis and the foul line running across the lane. A zero degree axis of rotation is all forward roll. The rotation on the ball is in the direction of the forward travel. The rotation will help keep the ball in the initial direction. The ball will not hook very much. It will roll out early. Therefore, a bowler with this style will need balls drilled to go long. A 90-degree axis of rotation is most likely all side roll. The rotation is perpendicular to the initial direction. The rotation is trying to make the ball hook at a 90-degree angle to the initial direction. This gives the ball more potential to hook. This style causes the ball to skid further down the lane and then hook more. A bowler with this style will most likely need balls drilled to hook earlier; such as axis weight, or pins closer to their axis.

Axis Tilt: (Example, a spinner versus a full roller) This is a measure of the angle of the initial spin axis to a horizontal plane. A full roller or high track style would have little or no axis tilt. The initial spin axis would be parallel or close to parallel with the lane surface. One rotation of the ball would cover the major diameter of the ball. A spinner would have an initial spin axis tilted up from the lane. The ball track would be far away from the thumb and finger holes. One rotation of the ball would cover a much smaller diameter than other bowlers. The spinner style will get the ball further down the lane before it hooks.

Axis Weight: Axis weight is a drilling pattern designed to produce little or no track flare and get the ball into an early roll with little backend reaction. Axis weight has the pin located on or near the bowler’s PAP. The core is positioned along the initial spin axis. This places the core in a stable position. The ball will be initially rotating about the minimum RG axis, which is a stable core position. Therefore, it will continue to rotate about this axis creating no track flare. This reduces the backend reaction. Since the ball is rotating about the low RG axis it is easier for the bowler to rotate it off their hand which gets the ball into an earlier roll.

Baby Split: A baby split is defined as a split with very little space between them. It is almost impossible to get your bowling ball between the two pins without hitting either. Example: The 2-7 or 3-10 splits.

Back Swing: The path of the arm behind the body during the next to last step in the delivery.

Backends: The last 20ft. of a bowling lane. This is where big hook bowlers like to see the majority of movement in their bowling ball.

Bagger: A term indicating consecutive strikes thrown that is preceded by a number. Ex: three bagger = three strikes in a row, seven bagger = seven strikes in a row.

Baker System: Each member of a five-person team rolls two frames to comprise a normal 10-frame game. The leadoff bowler rolls in the first and sixth frames; the second bowler throws the second and seventh frames, and so on. This format emphasizes the team concept in which many high schools and colleges around the country use during competitions.

Balance Hole: This is an extra hole (balance hole or weight hole) in a ball which is used to get the ball within ABC specifications for imbalance (static balance). The maximum allowable diameter is 1-1/4″ for ABC and WIBC sanctioned play and 1-3/8″ for the PBA.

Bevel: Rounding of thumb and or finger holes to smooth their edges.

Blind: When a team member does not show they are considered absent. A score is usually calculated from their average and given to them as a blind score.

Brooklyn: When a ball crosses over the headpin i.e., when shooting for the 1-3 pocket the ball goes left and hits the 1-2 side.

Bub: A person who travels with a group of bowlers that usually spend more money than they make. This person performs many duties which includes driving the truck, dressing the lanes, drilling the balls, weighing in the balls, and selling gift items to unaware bowlers. Also refers to a person trying to get their ducks in a row.

Carrydown: Oil that is pushed or carried down the lane by bowling balls when the lane is in use.

Center of Gravity: The position in which the ball is evenly balanced statically from the right side to left side and from the finger quadrant to the thumb quadrant. The perfect balance point where the weight on any straight line drawn through the c.g. is zero on either side of the c.g.. This spot is usually indicated by the position of the label or a punch mark.

CG: See Center of Gravity

Cherry: Chopping off the front pin by driving it straight back past any other standing pins to the right or left.

Christmas Tree: A conditioning (oil) pattern. The oil is tapered from right to left and long ways down the lane, tapering into a point. The pattern if viewed from above would resemble a christmas tree with the base beginning at the foul line. The taper may be varying differences.

Coeffiicient of Friction: The coefficient of friction (also called COF, or friction) is a measurement of the force it takes to slide an object across another surface divided by the object’s weight. In bowling, the coefficient of friction refers to how well the bowling ball grabs the lane surface. If lane oil is present the ball slides on the lane surface very easily and there is a low COF. If there is no oil on the lane, the ball does not slide as easily and the coefficient of friction is high. A more aggressive shell material has an even higher coefficient of friction. The greater the coefficient of friction, the sooner the ball will grab the lane and hook.
Core: The inner portion of the bowling ball which influences ball reaction based on its density and position.

Count: The number of pins knocked down on the first ball.

Coverstock: The outer shell of the bowling ball which can be constructed with a variety of materials such as rubber, polyester, and urethane.

Cranker: A bowler who puts a lot of revolutions on the ball.

Crossover: A ball going to the 1-2 pocket side for a right hander, 1-3 side for left hander. See also, Brooklyn

Deck: The surface on which the pins are spotted. The pin deck at the end of the lane has ten dots, called pin spots, that are .30 m (1 ft) apart.

Differential: The difference in the Radius of Gyration or RG on the x-axis and the y-axis. RG differential indicates the amount of flare potential of a bowling ball.

Differential: The difference between the maximum and minimum Radius of Gyration. RG-differential indicates the bowling ball’s track flare potential. The higher the number the greater the track flare potential.

Ditch: The gutter or the very edge of the lane.

Double: Two strikes in succession.

Dutch 200: A game of exactly 200 made by alternate strikes or spares.

Flare: Describes the ball track progression from the bowler’s axis of rotation to the ball’s preferred spin axis, due to strength of core and friction on the lane.

Foul: Touching or going beyond the foul line while delivering the ball.

Frame: One-tenth of a game. Each square on score sheet is one frame.

Full Roller: This is a bowling style where the ball will track between the finger and thumbhole.

Gutter Ball: A bowling ball delivery which rolls off the lane into the gutter.

Hambone: Throwing four strikes in a row (Courtesy of PBA announcer Rob Stone). This is also known as a four-bagger.

Heads: This is the front part of the lane. Also called the maple area of the lane because of the material from which it is made (on wood lanes).

Helicopter: A style of play used quite a bit overseas. Basically the ball spins like a top and goes straight, instead of at an angle meant for hooking. You can see an example of it here

High RG Drilling: This is a drilling pattern where the pin is located at approximately 90 degrees (or 6 to 6-3/4 inches) to the PAP. It is called this because the core is initially rotating around its highest RG axis off the bowler’s hand. This results in the ball skidding further down the lane before hooking. The pin may be positioned close to or in the bowler’s track.

Hook: A ball that breaks (changes direction) sharply toward the pocket.

Hook Out: Also known as roll out. This is when the ball has completed hooking and begins to travel in a straight line. The stages of the ball path are described as skid, hook and roll. After the ball skids on the oil and hooks on the dry backends, it will eventually start to just roll. This is hook out.

Hook Potential: Rated on an opened ended scale, hook potential describes the relative hook potential of a particular bowling ball. Bowling balls with higher numbers will tend to hook more. Balls with lower numbers will tend to hook less. Hook potential numbers are not intended to place a numerical measurement to the hooking action of a bowling ball. Using the hook potential numbers to compare two bowling balls in an attempt to try and predict a bowling balls reaction does not usually work. The hook potential numbers have been assigned to bowling balls in an attempt to give the consumer a frame of reference. A bowling ball’s reaction is determined by many different factors. When choosing a bowling ball it is important to keep those differences in mind. Bowling balls respond to the forces applied to them under certain conditions. A ball designed to hook more may hook less under certain conditions than a ball designed to hook less. Since most companies use different hook rating scales, which only tends to confuse the consumer, has come up with the “Perfect Scale”™ to give a relative hook rating from one bowling ball to the next.

Leave: Pins remaining after the first delivery.

Length: Rated on an open ended scale, length describes the relative length of a bowling ball gets before it starts to hook. Bowling balls with higher numbers will tend to go longer before starting to change direction. Bowling balls with lower numbers will tend to change direction earlier. Length numbers are not intended to place a numerical measurement of length. Using these numbers to try and predict the exact distance between the bowling balls being compared will not necessarily be reflected correctly. A bowling ball’s reaction is determined by many different factors. When choosing a bowling ball it is important to keep those differences in mind. Bowling balls respond to the forces applied to them under certain conditions. A ball designed to hook more may hook less under certain conditions than a ball designed to hook less.

Leverage Drilling: This is a drilling pattern that produces the maximum amount of track flare. The pin and CG are located at 3-3/8″ from the bowler’s PAP which places the core at a 45-degree angle to the axis line. This is an unstable position for a dynamic core. The core wants to move away from this location causing track flare. The track flare increases the friction between the ball and lane, which gets the ball into an early roll. Depending on the bowler’s style, the added friction can sometimes increase the sharpness of the turn at the break point (especially for low RPM bowlers); or for others (especially higher RPM bowlers), cause the ball to slow down too much in the oil. This uses up the energy in the oil where the ball cannot hook very easily and reduces the turn at the break point.

Lofting: Throwing the ball in the air beyond the foul line.

Mass Bias: The part of a bowling ball in which the internal mass of a bowling ball is closest to the outside edge of the coverstock. This does not include the pin.

Messenger: When a pin comes across the deck i.e., right to left or left to right off the side boards.

MICA: Technically a rock material. It is added to balls to pearlize them. Pearlized balls normally skid further and then snap harder. Some new types (sizes) of mica are being added to balls to affect their performance. Some actually help a ball skid in the oil creating a snap at the break point.

Mid Line: This is a terminology used on drill sheets. It is the horizontal line that extends from the center of the grip at 90 degrees towards the PAP (positive axis point).

Off the Sheet: Finishing a game from any frame with nothing but strikes.

PAP: See Positive Axis Point

Pin: A polyester or urethane stem which is positioned in the weight block to hold the core in place as the coverstock is poured into the ball mold during the manufacturing process. This represents the top part of the weight block and is usually represented by a colored dot on the surface of the ball.

Pin In: This is a ball that was manufactured with the pin and the center of gravity within 1 1/2″ of one another.

Pin Out: This is a ball that was manufactured with the pin and the center of gravity distance greater than 1 1/2″ from one another.

Pitch: The angle at which a hole is bored in a bowling ball. When facing the grip with the fingers on top and the thumb below – holes that are drilled away from the center of the grip is referred to as reverse. Holes angled or pitched towards the center of the grip is referred to as forward. Right and left pitch is in relation to the hole. Right pitch on the thumb is also called palm pitch since the angle of the thumb is towards the palm.

Pocket: Area between 1-2 pins for a left and 1-3 pins for a right hander.

Polyester: A specific type of coverstock which is compromised of plastic material with limited durability.

Positive Axis Point: This is the point on a ball that it wants to initially rotate about when a bowler releases it. The bowler’s style determines this location. It is measured from the center of the grip over a distance along the midline and up or down a distance along the mid plane (vertical axis line).

Radius of Gyration: Bowling balls have a RG (Radius of Gyration) converted to a scale of 1-10. RG numbers range from 2.430 to 2.800, but some companies have converted them to a 1-10 scale to help give the consumer a better frame of reference. Mass distribution numbers describe the distribution of mass in the bowling ball. High RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the cover (cover heavy) which promotes length through the heads of the bowling lane. Low RG numbers indicate that the balls mass is distributed more towards the center (center heavy) which promotes an earlier roll through the front part of the lane.

Reactive Resin: A coverstock comprised of similar materials used in urethane formulation, however, blended with different additives. This coverstock provides a “tacky” feeling which translates into additional traction, and usually strong backend reaction.

RG: See Radius of Gyration

Sandbagger: A person that intentionally bowls poorly, especially at the beginning of a league to reduce their average. Later in the season they bowl to their full potential and can get extra pins from their handicap caused by the intentional low average. These people are normally despised. There have been reports about some sandbaggers doing this as a team. I have seen a case where two people that bowl doubles took turns sitting out a season. That way in the following season’s league they would not have an established average and would walk away making a lot of money.

Spare: Knocking down all pins in two deliveries.

Split Name – Bed Posts: The 7-10 split.

Split Name – Big Four: The 4-6-7-10 split.

Split Name – Bucket: The 2-4-5-8 for right-handers, 3-5-6-9 for left-handers.

Strike: Knocking down all pins with the first ball.

Striking Out: Throwing three strikes in the tenth frame.

Stroker: A bowler who is very smooth with both his/her release and approach.

TAP: Expression used to describe a single pin that is left standing after what seemed to be a shot where the bowler expected to strike.

Ten in the Pit: A Strike that sends all ten pins into the back leaving none on the pin deck.

Track: Path to the pins created by many balls rolled in the same general area.

Turkey: Three strikes in a row.

Tweener: These are bowlers someone between Crankers (Big hook) and Strokers (Smooth, even arcing player).

Weight Block: See Core