You’ve just stepped into the bowling center and there’s a completely different language in the air. “Look at the 'action' on that ball. One more strike for a 'Turkey'. He’s lucky he didn’t 'stone an 8' or 'ring a 10'." To the rookie, these may not mean a thing, but to those in the know it brings a whole new life to the game.
Learning how to 'talk-the-talk' on and off the lanes can be fun and just as entertaining as the game of bowling itself. It’s important to start with the basics and, like anything else, the rest will come. Let’s take a look at some fairly common bowling lingo starting with what you just heard:
- Spin on the ball and the movement of the pins caused by that spin
- Bowling for money, usually one-on-one
Turkey - Three consecutive strikes
Stone 8 - When the ball hits the pocket (1,2 for left handers or 1,3 for right handers) and only the 8 pin is left
Ring 10 - When the pin action sends a pin around the top of the 10 pin without knocking it over
If you bowl enough, you'll see a lot of me.
Let’s listen to a comment about someone’s technique. Just like any other sport, there’s lingo to describe what’s going on during the movement and delivery of the ball. “Jeff’s approach is really smooth to the foul line and he puts a lot of revs on the ball before his follow through. Jeff’s ball is definitely a boomer.”
Approach - How the bowler moves to deliver the ball or the space used to take the steps and delivery
Follow through - What the arm swing does after the ball leaves the hand. Following through towards your target and upwards promotes accuracy
Revs/Revolutions - The number of times the ball turns completely over its circumference from the release until it contacts the pins
Boomer - A big hooking ball; a person that throws a big hooking ball
Once the ball is on the lane, there are endless options to describe what’s happening or what’s going to happen. “If he stays behind the foul line and that shot stays out of the channel, it could be flush for a strike or light leaving a bucket with a sleeper. If the ball hooks back too much we could be looking at Bed Posts, The Big Four, or The Greek Church.”
Foul line - The line that separates the approach area from the beginning of the lane
Channel - Drop-off area on each side of the lane where the ball hits no pins, score is zero
Flush - A ball that hits solid in the pocket
Strike - Knocking down all 10 pins with the first ball
That's the way, uh huh uh huh, we like it!!
Light hit – When the ball barely hits the head pin while hitting the pocket (typically the 1,2 for left handers and the 1,3 for right handers)
Bucket - A cluster of four pins, e.g., the 2-4-5-8 or 1-2-3-5. Most of the time, the 2-4-5-8 for right handers, or the 3-5-6-9 for left handers
Sleeper - A pin directly behind another pin (Ex.: 2-8, 3-9, 1-5).
Head pin - The 1 pin
Bed Posts - The 7-10 split
Big Four - The 4-6-7-10 split
Greek Church - A split with three pins on one side of the lane and two on the other (Ex: 4-6-7-8-10, or 4-6-7-9-10)
The Greek Church is no fun to shoot.
When all is said and done and the scores are added up, you may be asked if you bowled a “clean game,” a “deuce,” a “Dutch 200,” or the widely sought after “perfect game.” No matter how you bowled, you’ll know more about how to talk bowling with those who ask. After all, learning a foreign language isn’t that bad and can be quite fun, especially if you can use it on the lanes.
Clean Game - A game without any open frames
Deuce - A game of 200 or more
Dutch 200 - A score of exactly 200 by alternating strikes and spares throughout each frame
Perfect Game - A game of twelve strikes in a row, a maximum score of 300
My work here is done.