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5 Pin Bowling: Tips, Technique, Balls, & Perfect Game in 5 Pin Bowling

Five pin bowling is a fun pastime that’s popular in Canada. This article answers some commonly asked questions about it. 

5 Pin Bowling Balls: Size and Weight

A standard ball is between 4 ¾ and 5 inches in diameter. The weight is between 3 pounds 6 ounces and 3 pounds 10 ounces. The balls in most bowling alleys are 4 and 7/8 inches and 3 pounds 8 ounces. They’re made of acrylic or rubber.

Some bowlers like to use their own balls. This certainly isn’t necessary, but if you’re really getting into the game it’s nice to have your own. I bought the Epco Paramount balls and I have no complaints.

What’s a Perfect Game of 5 Pin Bowling? Maximum Score

A perfect score is 450 points. You have to roll 12 straight strikes to achieve this.

The maximum points you can get in one frame is 45. When you throw a strike, the points you get on your next 2 balls are added to your score.

So, throwing a strike gets you an automatic 15 points. The next strike adds another 15 points to your first one, giving you 30 points. The next strike adds another 15 points to the first one, giving you the maximum total of 45 points in one frame. 10 frames times 45 points makes 450 points.

How Do You Get a High Score?

As you can see from the heading above on a perfect game, running your strikes together greatly increases your score.

Let’s take an example where 2 bowlers each roll 5 strikes in a game. Bowler “A” rolls her 5 in a row in the first 5 frames. Bowler “B” alternates his 5, throwing strikes in frames 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. On the other 5 frames, each bowler gets 10 points: 5 on the first ball, 5 on the second and a miss on the third.

If you’re new to 5 pin bowling, you’d probably expect their scores to be very close, if not the same. Not so.

Bowler “A” finishes with 245 points; bowler “B” finishes with 175 points. That’s a whopping 70 point difference between two bowlers who knocked down the exact same amount of pins.

Rolling spares adds to your score in a bit of a different way. Running them together is less important than how well you do on your first ball in the next frame. Your points from this next ball are added to your spare.

For example, bowler “A” spares the first frame and gets a strike on the second. This makes the first frame worth 30 points: 15 for the spare + 15 for the strike.

Bowler “B” spares the first frame and gets 2 points on the first ball of the second. This makes the first frame worth 17 points: 15 for the spare + the 2 for the first ball.

So, you can greatly increase your score by taking advantage of spares by doing well on your first ball in the following frame. A spared frame can be worth anywhere from 15 points—if your next ball goes in the gutter—to 30 points, if your next ball is a strike.

Getting a high score is highly dependent on how well you capitalize on your strikes and spares. Consecutive strikes or a strike following a spare will be a boon to your score.

How to Throw the Ball: Technique

Ball delivery among top level players varies a lot, which tells us there are many ways to approach, and release the ball, that can be effective.

How you throw the ball will depend on your physical characteristics and preference. Here are some examples:

This bowler, Mike Lacoursiere, takes his time before the throw:

His opponent in the match, Mike Herbert, doesn’t take any extra time before his throw:

This bowler, Bradly Tytgat, has a very high backswing:

This bowler, Tim Wiseman, has a lower backswing:

This bowler, Tyler Tytgat, has the most graceful approach and release I’ve ever seen:

These are just a few examples of the numerous differences you’ll find among excellent bowlers. There’s also lots of variation in how they hold the ball, how fast they move, how low they get during the release, how hard they throw, how they follow through, and much more. 

5 Pin Bowling Tips

If you’d like a basic tutorial, check out the following video. It’s set to start after the warm-up. It covers:

  • How to hold the ball (8:20)
  • The stance (9:10)
  • The delivery (10:40)
  • 3 step/4 step approach (11:50)
  • Using the arrows (16:10)
  • The back-up ball & the hook ball (18:55)
  • Spares (22:20)
  • Tips (24:05)

I hope you picked up some good 5 pin bowling tips, and best wishes on bowling that perfect game!

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