Phrases only Bowlers will Understand


Bowling has a unique language, and some of the phrases and terms will leave a non-bowler wondering what you’re talking about. Here’s a look at some of those sayings, along with an explanation.


"DEADWOOD" or "180"

These calls commonly are heard being made to the control desk at bowling centers across the country, but what do they mean? Deadwood is the term used to let a pin chaser or mechanic know that a pin went past the rake and still is located on the lane or in the gutter. A call for a 180 means the rack of pins never was set and the bowler is staring at an empty pin deck.


It isn’t just a flavor. If you happen to leave one of these, prepare to take a picture. The 5-7-10 is one of the more embarrassing splits to leave since the ball was able to reach the pocket but didn’t have enough drive to take out the 5 pin. And the 7. And the 10. But it’s OK. Ask Chris Barnes.  



This phrase is thrown around when your ball is hooking too much, and it’s time to make a switch. Most players usually will switch to a less-aggressive bowling ball once the oil begins to transition.



You never want to let your team down, but sometimes, it happens. When a bowler gets “stuck” by his or her teammates, it means they were the only member of the team not to strike in a particular frame.



This comment may catch non-bowlers off guard, but changing the sole of the bowling shoe now is common practice. Most bowling shoes are developed with interchangeable soles and heels that offer different amounts of traction when the bowler slides. Some bowlers like soles that cause them to slide a lot, while others prefer to barely slide at all. 



If you’re looking for the gray boards, you won’t find them! When bowlers say this phrase, they are talking about the gutters. Whether the gutter is gray or blue or orange, the ball won’t hook once it enters the gutter. 


In most cases, the bowler will have missed their target wide and hope for the ball to hang on.



We’re not talking about the stain in your driveway. The invisible oil placed on the lane originally was used to protect the surface, but now is used to dictate where to play on the lane, what ball to use and what hand position is needed to strike all day.