Ten-pin Bowling

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How can one walk into a bowling alley and not get excited? Hearing the sound of rolling balls and the clatter of falling pins is enough to give anybody goose bumps.

The object of the game of bowling is easy enough and that’s why it makes a great game for the entire family.  Each game consists of ten frames.  For each frame, a player gets two tries to knock down a set of ten pins.  If the player knocks them all down at the first attempt, this is called a strike.  If some pins remain standing and the player knocks the remaining pins down on the second attempt, this is called a spare.

If you have ever watched experienced bowlers at play, you may have observed that they remain cool, calm and collected.  They make strike after strike and react completely unimpressed by their achievements.

On the other hand, watching inexperienced bowlers paints quite a different picture.  It’s more common to see their bowling ball veer off to the left or to the right than it is to see it rolling down the center of the lane.  It would appear that keeping the ball on the lane is an achievement in itself, never mind scoring a strike or a spare.

If in doubt, watch a group of inexperienced bowlers sometime.  A strike or a spare is greeted as if the bowler has just accomplished world peace.  Smiles, laughter and dramatic whoops of joy with fists punching the air add to the fun.

Every bowling alley also caters to youngsters.  Upon request, guard rails can be put up on the left and right hand side of the lane, as such preventing junior’s ball ending up in the gutter.

Moms and dads play along with their children’s ‘fake’ success.  When junior makes a strike, a spare or even hit any amount of pins, they smile, enveloping their little bowler in their arms, making him feel ever so proud.  Bowling is an excellent game to bond a family together in a sport where just about anyone can participate.

Children as young as five years old often want to play too.  They cannot carry even the lightest ball in one hand, so their ingenious mind comes up with a plan, and they carry, or drag if necessary, the ball with two hands to the lane. Instead of throwing it, they manage the best ‘push’ they can muster in the general direction of the pins. For them a good launching of the ball trumps the end result.

Much of the success of striking and sparing depends on the equipment used.  Would Serena Williams walk on to a tennis court with just any old racquet?  I think not.  A personalized bowling ball is just as important for any amateur bowler.  Owning a bowling ball is preferable over playing with a house ball.  A personal ball is drilled to the span of the bowlers’ hand and sports fingertip control, making it easier to handle the ball.

Bowling balls range from 6 pounds to 16 pounds and cost anywhere from $50 to about $300.

Not ready to buy your own new ball?  Bowling enthusiasts can also opt for a second hand ball.  A top of the line second hand ball can be found in pro-shops for as little as $40.

One can research and buy bowling balls on-line too, but buying on-line this is not always the best option.  By visiting a pro-shop, usually managed by a bowler, one can get expert advice on what type of ball is right for you.  Weight and bowling style is of the utmost importance when choosing a ball.

Bowling is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.  After one strike, a bowler feels victorious and more confident to make another strike and then another.

If the bowler misses a strike, but makes a spare, he does not feel quite as triumphant, but he still feels pretty good (especially if he picks up a split).  But if he misses a spare and misses another one, chances are his confidence will rapidly diminish.  No one enjoys playing any game where they cannot muster a few successes to balance out their lack of expertise.

While it is important to have good equipment, having the right attitude about the game is just as important.  Have fun with the game, enjoy the strikes and spares and shrug off those frames where a few pins remained standing or worse, ended up in the gutter.

Like any sport, practice makes perfect.

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