Bowling Lingo

Ever walk past a couple of seasoned bowlers chatting it up and hear some wicked bowling lingo you didn’t even know existed?  For a game that’s relatively simple, you might be surprised at some of the terminology.  Here, I’ll paint the picture.

Rick:  How you been shootin’, Joe?

Joe: My first game I shot 5 over but I kept leaving 10 pins and baby splits.

Rick: Those splits are nothing, at least you shot a deuce!  I almost had a 6 pack but then I left a Greek Church and chopped it.


To the untrained ear, you might think someone swung an axe at a Greek Church.  But to the experienced bowler, it’s just a way of explaining the pins left behind after the first ball was thrown. Lots of these terms sound silly, but they have very specific meanings.

For example, from the sample conversation:

Greek Church – 1. A split leave of five pins similar to the 4-6-7-9-10 so called because it reminds people of an old cathedral type church with spires, etc.
2.  Any split on which there are three pins on one side of the lane and two on the other.

Six Pack – 6 strikes in a row

Deuce – A game of 200 or more

Baby Split – Either the 2-7 or 3-10 Split.  Much easier to pick up compared to a regular split.

Leave – The pins remaining after the first ball was rolled

Chop – To knock down one pin of a spare leave, while the pin next to or behind it remains standing.


That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, there are lots of terms for everything from the formation of pins left behind to the fundamentals of bowling.  Here are some basic bowling terms.

Address – The bowler’s stance before the approach

Approach – 1. The space extending back from the foul line used to make the steps and delivery.
2. How the bowler gets to the foul line

Arrows – The triangles embedded on the lane used in aiming the throw.

Board – A lane consists of 39 strips of wood, each called boards; they are usually numbered by the player and used as targeting terms; i.e., I was throwing the 5th board; in synthetic lanes there are no boards as such, but usually the synthetic overlay has a pattern that resembles natural wood lanes.

Foul Line – 1. The line that separates the approach area from the beginning of the playing surface.

Foul – Crossing or touching the foul line at delivery. It’s penalized by a count of zero pins. If the foul occurs on the first ball of a frame, the bowler gets a second shot at a new rack.

Pocket – The desirable location for the ball to hit the pins to maximize strike potential. Generally the area between the 1-3 pins (right-hand player) or the 1-2 pins (left-hand player). This is the target for the first ball in a frame.

Pushaway – The pushing out (forward) of the ball to begin the swing (coincides with first step of four-step approach.)


Now, of course, from the other end of the lingo spectrum, here are some of the more obscure terms:

Beak – The nose; the center of the head pin.

Bed Posts – 7-10 split

Belly the Ball – Describes the type of shot where a player stands inside and tosses it to the outside in the hopes it returns to the pocket for a strike.

Boomer – A big hooking ball; a person that throws a big hooking ball.

Dressing – The lane conditioner; the act of applying lane conditioner.

Dutch 200 – A game of exactly 200 made by alternating strikes and spares throughout the entire game.

Fast Eight – Describes an apparent good pocket hit that gets just eight (8) pins; typically the right-handed players will leave the 4-7 spare and the left-handed players the 6-10; usually

the ball is a tad high when this happens.

Full Roller – A ball that rolls over its full circumference. The track of the ball cuts between the thumb and finger holes. Although once very popular, it is now rarely used because it lacks the carrying power of a semi-rolled ball due to the fact that it generally cannot create the increased entry angles that are helpful to carrying your strikes, particularly the off-hits.

Half Ten – The description of a 10-pin that was left by a ball in the pocket and the 6-pin laying down in front of the 10-pin in a half hearted manner; same as “weak 10”.

Jersey/Brooklyn Side(or hit) – A ball that hits on the opposite side of the player’s normal pocket; i.e, a Jersey for a right handed player would hit on the 1-2 pocket; usually refers to getting a strike in the “wrong” pocket. Called a “Brooklyn” in most locations of the country.

Kegler – German word for bowler.

Lily – The 5-7-10 split; also known as the “sour apple”.

Loft – The distance the ball travels between the time of release and the time it hits the lane.

Long Oil – Condition in which the lane conditioner is applied from the foul line farther than normal. There is no magic standard, but 35-40 feet or more of application was considered long oil. It can be a more difficult condition in that there will be less back end to generate pocket entry angle. Long Oil in today’s environment would be considered anything longer than 40 feet of oil. 35 is now considered short oil.

Mass Bias – Mass bias in a bowling ball occurs when the weight block or portion of weight block is more dominant in one direction inside of a bowling ball.

Messenger – The name given to the pin that rolls across the pindeck into a pin or pins to either get a strike or break up a split.

Picket Fence – The 1-2-4-7 or 1-3-6-10 spares.

Range Finders – Markers in the lane that help the bowler determine the target line. There are two sets of such markers: 10 dots located seven feet past the foul line and seven arrows arranged in a triangle beginning 16 feet beyond the foul line. There are also range finders at 35 and 40 feet down the lane per USBC rules.

Turkey – 3 strikes in a row.

Washout – A “split” with the head pin standing; symbolized as “W”; not making the spare is considered a blow or error, not a split. For example, the 1-2-4-10 or 1-2-10 for right-handed bowlers, or the 1-3-6-7 or 1-3-7 for left-handers is considered a “washout.”

Congratulations, you now have the vocabulary of a bowling veteran.  Have fun with your new lingo, whether your chopping sour apples or shooting turkeys

COOL Summer Fun for Kids

Summer’s almost here, and so is the heat and humidity. Who doesn’t love the feeling of breaking a sweat the second you step outside? How about sunburn? Not us! Lucky for you, Laurel Lanes can keep you cool and entertained in a fun air-conditioned environment all day long. Whether you’re bringing your kids to bowl for free (Yes, you read that right), or coming to enjoy one of our weekday specials, Laurel Lanes is the place for summer fun.

Have you heard that kids bowl free all summer? That’s right, Laurel Lanes is a proud member of the Kids Bowl Free Summer Program. What exactly does that mean? Last summer hordes of kids came in and bowled for FREE! Kids bowl free aims to provide children with a safe, fun way for children to spend time in the summer. All you have to do is go to and register for kids to recieve 2 FREE games every day of the program. That’s a value of over $500 per child! It’s really that easy. After all, kids love bowling and parents love FREE!

Summer Birthday? Surprise your kid with a bowling birthday party! Birthdays in the summer aren’t always the easiest to plan or the most enjoyable to celebrate outside depending on the weather.. Have no fear! Our team of party planners and hosts will make sure your child’s birthday is a special day. Birthday packages can be customized to cater to exactly what your child wants.

If you want to have a bowling party, but have no summer birthdays coming up, we’ve got you covered. Our Pizza Pins & Pop Package has a tremendous amount of value at a great rate. It’s no wonder that it’s one of our most popular packages, including two hours of unlimited bowling, shoe rentals, one free large cheese pizza, and unlimited soda!

Make your kid’s summer one that they’ll remember forever by creating lasting memories at Laurel Lanes. Kids Bowl Free is an offer too good to pass up, so make sure you register to download FREE bowling passes weekly! If you’re not participating in Kids Bowl Free, you can still get a great deal on bowling with our Pizza Pins & Pop Package. No matter what you’re looking for, if staying out of the heat and having fun is what you’re looking for, Laurel Lanes is the place to be.

Health Benefits of Bowling

Although bowling isn’t a full-contact physical sport, it still works muscle groups throughout your entire body. It’s a healthy
exercise for people of all ages. It’s important for seniors to maintain control of their motor skills, and it also helps children
work on their hand-eye coordination. We know that exercise can have very positive effects on your health, from lowering your risk chances of heart related incidents to increasing bone density, so why not get some exercise through bowling? Not to mention the fact that if you’re competitive, any adrenaline rush you may get increases your heart rate, which can also lead to better heart health. Oh yeah, and… it’s really fun!

You might not think of bowling as being good exercise, but you actually use quite a few muscle groups as you go through the
motions. When you break it down, you bend your knees during your approach, you keep your core tight, you use your legs to walk up to the lane, and you use your arm to throw the ball. There isn’t too much of your body that you’re not using when you’re bowling! It’s not an extreme cardio workout, or a heavy weight lifting routine, but it’s a well rounded combination of exercise that definitely helps burn calories.

At a later age, getting the proper amount of exercise can definitely become a challenge. Staying active is important because it’s
easy to lose it if you don’t use it. One of the good things about bowling is the bowler’s ability to choose and customize the ball
they use. It’s important not to use too heavy of a ball, especially at a later age, because you don’t want to put excess strain
on your body. Being able to have the right weight and fit makes it a lot easier to enjoy some light exercise. Most other sports
aren’t as adaptable, they don’t allow you to custom fit the game to yourself.

There aren’t too many sports that children, especially young children, can fully participate in. Light bowling balls and the
availability of ramps makes bowling a plausible activity for any age child. Although they might not be firing a 15 pound ball down the lane like an adult, they can still roll the ball (whether using a ramp or not) and experience what bowling is all about. It
also teaches kids about aim, and how to adjust where they’re aiming so that their next shot is more successful. These are all
healthy skills to learn, and the younger someone learns them they better off they are.

From the social aspect of bowling with a group of people to the concentration necessary to successfully knock pins down, bowling helps keep your mind active in many ways. It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination to bowl well. You can’t just run up to the lane and randomly throw the ball if you expect to see any kind of consistency in your bowling. A great amount of focus is required to be able to duplicate a good shot over and over again. You have to be alert and in the zone to know how to adjust and compensate for whatever bowling conditions you may be subject to.

No matter your age, bowling is good for your mind and body. Children can learn important developmental skills, and elders can
benefit from the exercise and mental stimulation. In a time where its increasingly challenging to stay active, bowling is a great
way to burn some calories and keep your mind sharp!

Fun for All Generations

Graphic of bowling ball and pins

Bowling is one of the few activities a whole family can do where every family member is able to participate. Trying to bring Grandpa out on the volleyball court or football field isn’t usually the best idea.. But the bowling center, that’s a whole different story! When done properly, bowling can be great fun for the whole family. It’s a great cross-generational activity for all ages!

A lot of parents feel like their families spend way too much time on their phones and other forms of technology. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a night where everyone set their phones down and spent time together? Having a family bowling night would be the perfect opportunity for everyone to step away from their devices and interact a little!

Out of all sports, bowling isn’t hard to learn. You can make relatively easy adjustments if you pay attention to where your ball is going, and where you want it to go. If you keep hitting the pins a little too far to the left, a simple adjustment to the right is most likely all you need. It’s great practice for hand-eye coordination. Bowling can also help a young person learn about cause and effect, and develop problem-solving skills. With our automated scoring system it’s easy to stay focused on bowling itself, without worrying about keeping score.

At Laurel Lanes we carry a ton of shoe sizes, everything from a kids 6 to a men’s 16!(Sorry Shaq, no size 22’s..) Just about anyone is able to come enjoy this fun sport! As well as owning enough shoes to practically open a shoe store, we also have a vast range of house balls. All of our balls are drilled to be able to fit as many size hands as possible, so there are no excuses! Our balls range in weight from a super light 6 pound ball, which would be appropriate for a child, to a 16 pound ball, which is the maximum weight allowed by the USBC. Will you be bowling with someone needs to use bumpers? Have no fear, they can be set to pop up automatically for anyone who needs them. If you have any issues with lifting and rolling a bowling ball, we have ramps available that will surely help.

It is not uncommon to see a Grandfather or Grandmother take their Grandchild bowling. It goes to show you that this sport truly knows no age. Many people start bowling as a child and continue on well through their senior years. It doesn’t matter how old you are, when you get a strike you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment! Some families come to bowl with 3 generations of family members, after all, the more the merrier!

Since anyone can bowl, it shouldn’t be hard to find someone to join you. Any age family member, neighbor, coworker, or friend can be a potential bowling buddy! While anyone can bowl, it’s important to pass healthy traditions and hobbies down to the next generation. It doesn’t take much to bring a kid bowling, so why not create a lasting memory and be the one to teach them how to bowl? The learning and bonding experiences are priceless, and you’ll see how great it is for two people relatively far apart in age to have fun doing the same activity at the same time!

First Date? Get the Ball Rolling with Bowling!

Have you ever thought about asking someone on a date but can’t stand the thought of another dinner filled with awkward silences?  Look no further than Laurel Lanes!  There are a lot of different aspects to a night out bowling that can help you quickly determine whether your date is a good match or not.

Forget going to the movies, where although you may be sitting next to someone for a considerable amount of time, it’ll most likely be without any conversation.  How about dinner?  It may be romantic, but when you’re with someone you really don’t know too well, it’s really easy to feel awkward and get caught up in those moments of silence..

Instead you could be in a fun, stress-free environment like Laurel Lanes!  There’s much more to do than just bowl here.  We have a large arcade with games for all ages, Splitz Bar & Grill (which has an extensive American Grill Menu), a second full-service bar right behind the lanes, and Tony Luke’s, the real taste of South Philly!  No movie theater or restaurant will provide you with options like that.  We even have a new scoring system with built in games and the ability to take pictures right at your lane’s table!  You can look up to your scoring monitor after every frame and see your faces cropped into animations doing random silly things.  Needless to mention, our two bars are well stocked and sure to keep anyone 21+ happy, which can certainly be a big plus on a first date!

You can learn a lot about someone’s personality while bowling on a first date.  Do they put their name in the computer as something funny, or are they straight forward and put in their real name?  There’s a big difference between typing in “Steve” vs typing in “Dr.PinCrusher”!  You can also see the way your date reacts to competition.  If they’re able to joke about themselves not doing too well, you may have found someone it’d be easy to spend some time with.  On the other hand, if they repeatedly slam their fist against the ball return because they got a gutter ball, you might have found someone you’ll see on the news in the near future. But hey, maybe that’s your thing.

Bowling also provides you the opportunity to show that you have good manners, showing respect as you step to the side while your date walks down toward the ball return, by picking up their ball and handing it to them, or even just getting refills on drinks.  If you’re pretty comfortable with your date and they’re still struggling with bowling, you might even take advantage of the opportunity to stand behind them and help guide them.  OoOoh how romantic!

Everyone knows a first date can be a little stressful, but you don’t have to let it be.  Choose bowling and make it a lot more comfortable and easy to enjoy your time together!  Just remember, even if worst comes to worst and you’re not crazy about each other, you can still enjoy your time bowling!