Bowling Terms and Glossary

Asian Bowling Federation - ABF
The governing body that embraces all national FIQ member federations bounded in the North by the Arctic, in the South by Australia and New Zealand, in the East by the West Coast of American Continent, with the exception of Hawaii, which shall be in the American Zone, in the North West by the Continent of Europe and in the South West by the East Coast of the Continent of Africa and Madagascar. The Asian Bowling Federation currently consists of 35 member federations.

Ambient Temperature:
Temperature of the surrounding area; same as room temperature.

The area immediately in front of the lane before the foul line measuring at least 15 feet in length and not less than the width of the lane.

Approved by USBC
Used to describe equipment that has been sent in, reviewed, tested and found to meet all current specifications at the time of approval by the USBC. The WTBA recognizes the USBC as the only approved testing facility for the sport of tenpins.

American Society for Quality.

American Society of Testing Materials.

Asymmetrical Core (undrilled)
A ball where the RG (radius of gyration) values of the Y (high RG) and Z(intermediate RG) axes of the ball differ by more than 5% of the total differential of the ball.

Axis migration
Path of which the axis point travels across the surface of a ball as the ball travels down the lane; this path will always have the approximate same RG measurement as the ball travels.

Axis rotation
The measurement of horizontal angle through which a ball rotates; rotation is synonymous with the amount of “side roll” a bowler has.

Axis tilt
The measurement of the vertical angle through which a ball rotates; tilt is synonymous with the amount of “spin” a bowler has.

Portion of the lane after the lane conditioner ends up until the pins.

Ball track
The area on which a ball makes contact with a lane.

The use of two cords or wires to support the test cradle in testing the radius of gyration of a bowling pin.

The apex (peak) of the hook phase curve.

Center of gravity - CG
The imaginary point inside a body of matter where the total weight of the body is thought to be concentrated.

Certified by USBC
Any competition, bowler, league, center or coach that is registered with USBC.

Coefficient of friction - COF
The ratio of the force opposing the relative motion of two surfaces and the normal force acting perpendicular opposing force. In bowling, this term usually defines the interaction between the coverstock, lane conditioner and lane.

Coefficient of restitution - COR
The ratio of the energy of two objects after impact to the energy before impact. In the case of a ball striking a pin, this is the percentage of energy transfer from the ball to the pin.

Conventional Grip
The method of drilling in which the fingers are inserted to the second knuckle.

The interior of the bowling ball; depending upon the construction of the ball, the core may consist of the inner core (weight block) and/or the outer core (light filler material).

The exterior or outer shell of the bowling ball.

A partial break or split, slight or narrow, which appears on the surface of the ball. Also referred to as “stress fractures” which often occur around thumb or finger inserts or through the bridge area between the finger holes; a cracked bowling ball is not automatically disallowed from use in certified competition. See Fissure.

The different in location between a bowler’s starting position and ending position at the foul line.

A device to check hardness of bowling balls and bowling pins.

Edge board
The last board on each side of a pin deck or lane.

Entry angle
This is the angle at which the bowling ball enters the pins relative to the longitude of the lane.

The High RG plane of a bowling ball in symmetrical balls.

European Tenpin Bowling Federation - ETBF
The governing body that embraces all FIQ national federations with tenpins on the Continent of Europe, North Africa, British Isles and the islands of the North Atlantic. The European Tenpin Bowling Federation currently consists of 50 member federations.

Fingertip Grip
Method of drilling where only the tips of the fingers are inserted into the ball. Normally to the first joint nearest the finger tips of the middle and ring finger.


A crack of considerable length and depth usually occurring from some breaking or parting. If the fissure reaches the ball track at any point, it is not permitted for use in USBC certified competition as it may damage the lane surface. See

The ball track progression due to axis migration. Flare, also known as Track Flare, is what enables the bowling ball to track over a fresh portion of the surface which increases friction between the ball and the lane.

The force which opposes the relative motion of two surfaces which are in contact with each other.

Resistance to plastic (permanent) deformation due to a constant load from a sharp object.

This is in reference to the area from the foul line to 20 feet.

Hook Phase
Described as a curve, this is the second phase of ball motion where the ball has encountered enough friction to change direction.

Initial Installation
The first installation of a surface in a brand new center.

Intermediate differential
The difference in radius of gyration between the Y (high RG) and Z (intermediate RG) axes on the bowling ball.

The partitions that enclose the pin deck area located on the outside of the flat gutters which are also used to support the pin setting device.

Kickback plate
A plate (3/16” max. thickness) made of USBC approved materials that is used to protect the wood kickback.

Lane and approach markings
Symmetrical graphics on the playing surface as well as any targets meeting USBC specifications.

Launch Angle
The angle in which the ball exits your hand initially at the point of release.

Mass Bias
Y axis or high RG spot on the ball. See PSA.

Area past the heads to the end of applied lane conditioner.

Modulus of Compression
Ratio of the unit stress to unit strain within the proportioned limit of material in compression.

Mohs’ Hardness
A scale for classifying a material based on relative hardness determined by the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer one.

Moment of Inertia
Resistance to change in rotation.

A unit of measure used for measuring the wavelength of light. One nanometer equals 1x10-9 meters or 10 angstroms.

Natural pair of lanes
This refers to a pair of lanes used in certified competition. Usually natural pairs of lanes have a common ball return and are numbered 1 and 2, 3 and 4, etc.

This term is used to describe equipment that has been sent in, reviewed, tested and found to not meet one or more of the current specifications.

Pan American Bowling Confederation - PABCON
The governing body that embraces all FIQ national member organizations sponsoring tenpins from the Americas and adjacent waters otherwise known as Western Hemisphere. The American Zone currently consists of 27 member federations.

Any additive mixed into the coverstock to change the interaction between the bowling ball, lane conditioner and the lane.

Professional Bowlers Association - PBA
The professional association of competitive bowlings in the United States.

A plastic-like material derived from the chemical “phenol”.

Pin (in reference to a bowling ball)
This is used to indicate where the top of the weight block is located in the ball.

Pin base flat diameter
The diameter of the base of the pin which will contact a surface when a pin is stood upright.

Pin deck
The area of the lane on which the pins are spotted.

Angle at which holes in the bowling ball are drilled in relation to the exact center of the bowling ball.

Positive Axis Point - PAP
This is the point on a ball which the ball rotates initially upon release. A bowler’s Axis Point is unique to them and has the potential to change depending on how that bowler releases the bowling ball. The Axis Point includes both a horizontal and vertical measurement from the center of grip.

Preferred Spin Axis - PSA
The axis around which a ball will migrate to and spin around when energy is added to the bowling ball; this will always be the high RG axis of the ball. This term applies to all asymmetrical and drilled symmetrical balls.

Ra – see Surface Roughness – Ra.

Radius of gyration - RG
Measured in inches, radius of gyration is the distance from the axis of rotation at which the total mass of a body might be concentrated without changing its moment of inertia.

To put a new protective coating on lanes or pins.

To renew the life of an approved bowling pin by the use of plastic coatings and Nylon reinforcing over the entire pin.

A reproduction and subsequent release of an existing (previously approved) product. Re-released products must meet all current specifications and are no longer considered grand-fathered beyond their original approval under previous

Roll Phase
The third phase of ball motion where the ball is traveling on a linear path towards the pins.

Being such that every part of the surface or the circumference is equidistant from the center.

RS – see Surface Roughness – RS.

States how far the actual surface is permitted to vary from the dimensions implied.

An instrument which measures the hardness of work in terms of elasticity.

Serial number
An identifying series of numbers and/or letters in order to identify a specific ball; if a serial number is no longer identifiable then a new one can be engraved in order to give it a unique identifying series.

Skid Phase
The first phase of ball motion; the ball path is in a straight line and has not encountered enough friction to begin it’s hook phase.

The separation of glue joints in a wood core pin or separation of materials in a synthetic lane.

The distance between the thumb and finger holes on a bowling ball.

Surface Roughness – Ra
The arithmetic mean of the peak to valley distances over an evaluation distance.

Surface Roughness – RS
The arithmetic mean of peak to peak distances of the local peaks in the evaluation distance.

Sward hardness
A measurement of surface hardness.

Symmetrical Core (undrilled)
A ball where the RG (radius of gyration) values of the Y (high RG) and Z (intermediate RG) axes of the ball do not differ by more than 5% of the total differential of the ball.

In bowling terms, any pin or lane product not made of wood.

Tail plank
The board on the rear edge of the pin deck to protect and prolong the life of a pin deck. Technically, this is not part of the lane

A plastic material which when heated will melt but after cooling will return to a solid shape.

Total differential
The difference between the X (low RG) and Y (high RG) axes values of any bowling ball.

The friction between an object and the surface on which it moves.

Two-handed approach
Both hands are placed on the ball and are left on the ball throughout the swing until release. At the point of release, a dominant hand releases the ball thereby being a one-handed delivery. Additionally, the dominant hand is determined by the side of the body about which the ball swings.

Two-handed delivery
Both hands impart force on the ball to get it down the lane. Normally done by swinging the ball between one’s legs and is more commonly used when youth start to learn how to bowl. Individuals who deliver the ball from the chest using both hands would be considered to be using a two-handed delivery and therefore must remain with this style throughout competition.

The region of the electromagnetic spectrum just below that of visible light generally ranging from 10-400 nanometers.

United States Bowling Congress - USBC
The governing body of the sport of tenpins in the USA.

Vent hole
Any non gripping hole that intersects with a gripping hole at any depth. Any hole intended for use as a balance hole that intersects with a gripping hole will instantly be considered a vent hole.

A manufactured cavity with purposeful size, dimension and/or location within an object.

Rubber that has been treated with sulfur to make it harder and stronger.

World Tenpin Bowling Association - WTBA
The world governing body for the sport of tenpins.

USBC portions reprinted with permission from Steve Kloempken of the USBC

Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson began his career in the bowling business in 1976 at the age of 15 working for the Florida based Galaxy Lanes chain. Beginning from the ground up in center operations, he has also been a long time Pro Shop proprietor, 40 lane center General Manager, PBA National Tour player, multi PBA Regional Champion, PBA Player Services Director, and even a bowling writer. Since 2004 he has been working with Kegel.

Ted has also coached bowling on many different levels. From basic Learn to Bowl classes and private lessons while in the Pro Shop business, he was also head coach for Florida State University, countless PBA professionals, and even coached Lisa Wagner to her last Player of the Year award in 1993. While working for the PBA, the late great Dick Weber even asked for some of his time. An experience Ted says "he will always cherish". Dick immediately won a Senior Sweeper and gave him $300. It was the most Ted ever received for an hour lesson, and it came from one of the greatest players of all time.

Recently, Ted has been deeply studying topography and the effects it has on ball motion. He is also on the Kegel Team helping make decisions for many of the oil patterns Kegel uses in competitions world wide, which has led to further development of Kegel's lane machines. Ted has a complete and unique understanding of bowling from many different sides.

Ted also named the world's and Kegel's most popular lane machine the "Kustodian ION" (pronounced "EON" in Europe) and spearheaded the creation of Kegel's Navigation Oil Patterns. The creativity may be heredity. In 1968 Ted's father created the famous Dodge Super Bee logo and spearheaded that marketing campaign.