Wiki of bowling terms

End of Financial Year celebration bowling party

Did you know that inuits have over 100 words for snow? Well it's kind of the same for bowlers. There are names for just about anything in the bowling world that you can imagine - probably enough even to make the inuits jealous.

Here are some of the basic ones to get you started.

The approach

This is the part where the magic happens. You have a minimum of 15 feet (about 4.5 metres) in which to approach the lane and make your bowl.


Possibly the most common bowling term, a strike is when you knock down all the pins on the first ball. X marks the spot, as this is the sign for it on your score screens.


Bowl two strikes in a row and you've got yourself a double.


Bowl three strikes one after another and it's known as a turkey.


Four-leaf clovers are pretty hard to find, but maybe not as hard as bowling a clover, which takes four strikes in a row.


When you get to a point where you're regularly bowling strikes, you'll need to know this one. If you bowl six in a row for example, it will be called a 'six bagger' (although this is also known as a sixpack, which may actually give you more street cred).


If you go bowling with someone who has the habit of yelling 'gutter ball!' every time your ball escapes the lane, feel free to tell them that the technical bowling term for those 'gutters' are actually channels.


It's great in poker and it's equally as good in bowling. Bowl a strike that put all pins into the pit and you've got yourself a technically perfect strike.


Fouls mean pretty much the same thing in every sport. In bowling, if your foot (or any other part of your body) crosses the line at the end of the approach, then an alarm may sound and that bowl will count for zero.

Dead wood

If a pin falls over but doesn't get moved away by the sweeping mechanism it's called a dead wood. Play must pause until a staff member can remove it.


An FLO is any habit or ritual that you complete before a game. Be it eating an entire pizza, doing twenty star jumps or meditating quietly in the carpark before you come in - that part is totally up to you.

So next time you get your friends together for a bowling trip, be sure to show them up with your knowledge as you bowl the perfect game!