How to Hold a Five Pin Bowling Ball

Five-pin bowling has been one of my favorite leisure activities for as long as I can remember and based on my experience, one of the most crucial things to master as a beginner was how to correctly hold the ball. Getting used to it eventually upgrades your overall experience massively and certainly, it’s something anyone can easily learn.

So how exactly do you properly hold a five pin bowling ball? Technically, five-pin balls are small enough to fit into the players hand, and do not have holes. In order to make sure that your grip is secure and comfortable, look at the ball as a clock and situate your four fingers between 10 and 2, and your thumb at 5. Another point to remember is to leave a small space or ‘pocket’ between your palm and the ball instead of palming the it.

All About Five-Pin Bowling

Five-pin bowling is one of the many variations of bowling and is often played in Canada alone. This can be played alone or as a pair with ten-pin bowling. The person who made this happen was Thomas F. Ryan, whom in 1909 altered the original ten-pin game to cater players who prefer a less strenuous gameplay.

This variation requires a wiser strategy compared to ten-pin bowling

Five pins are arranged in a V-formation at the end of the lane and what makes this variation unique is that every pin is worth different points depending on their placement in the V-formation. The center worth 5 points, beside that for 3 points per pin and the outermost pins for 2 points each, which gives us a total of 15 points. Because of this, it requires a wiser and meticulous strategy compared to ten-pin variant

Players for every frame have three chances to knock down all pins. A strike is achieved when all pins are knocked over in one hit and is worth 15 points, and when this happens their following scored for the next frames will be added to their strike score. Two strikes in a row is called a ‘double’, three strikes a ‘triple’. A spare is achieved when it takes the player two balls to knock over all of the pins.

Specifications of Five-pin Bowling Balls

The original balls’ sizes were altered to be hand-sized and trimmed down by 75% for five-pin bowling. They are made out of hard rubber with a diameter between 4.75 to 5.0 inches and a weight of 1.5 kg to 1.7 kg.

The balls were made to be without any holes, however one manufacturer, E. Parrella Co. also known as EPCO, obtained approval from the Canadian 5 Pin Bowlers Association to produce five-pin bowling balls with fingerholes.

Picking the Perfect Five Pin Bowling Ball

For every bowling center you will visit they will have a wide variety of balls to match your preference and if you’re a novice to the sport then you will most likely feel intimidated with the varied designs, colors, size and weight. However, unbeknownst to a lot of fledglings in bowling, there is really not much to ponder about it.

For five pin bowling, all you have to ensure is that you are comfortable with your bowling ball and you like how it looks.

Taking Aim

As soon as you’ve chosen the perfect ball for you, then the next thing to find is the perfect spot to take aim. Preferably, you would want to be at least 3 steps away from the foul line which is approximately 2 to 3 meters far.

Next is to eye your target. In most cases bowlers will make use of the arrows found down the lane and use them as the target instead of the pins. You may choose different arrows for your shot and change your approach in accordance to which pins you want to knock down.

Delivering the Hit

By this time, you should now be ready to shoot your shot. Starting off with the common approaches we have the 3-step and 4-step approach. The simplest one is the 3-step approach characterized by arm movements that harmonize with every step. This is often referred as the ‘Out, Back and Through’ process.

To start, place the ball in front of your body for the first step and perform a backswing by your second step. Lastly, deliver the ball towards the pins with a slide. You’ll know if you’ve performed correctly if your arm follows through and proceeds upward upon ball release.

What’s most important with the delivery is to make sure that the ball rolls towards the targets and not anywhere else on the lane.

Language of the Game

Here are some terminologies used in five pin bowling:

  • Count – This refers to the pins’ values. Head pin is worth 5 points, pins beside it are 3 points each and the corner pins are of 2 points totaling to 15 points per set of pins.
  • Frame – Refers to the bowler’s turn to play, and for every game there are ten frames. Three chances to throw are given per frame, but for a strike they only get one chance and two for a spare. For the final frame, they are given 3 chances regardless if they nail a spare or a strike.
  • Turkey – Refers to three consecutive strikes.
  • Foul Line – A black line that should be behind where the bowler stands while taking aim. A deduction of fifteen points is taken whenever a bowler goes beyond the line.
  • Split – Refers to when after first ball is thrown, both corner pins and one three points worth pin are left standing
  • Chop Off – Refers to when after first ball is thrown, only one corner pin and one three point pin are left standing
  • Gutter – refers to when the ball falls into the hollows on either side of the lane that guides the ball directly into the pit. This is worth zero points.
  • Perfect Game – Refers to a game where 12 strikes are thrown in a row. Totals to 450 points.