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Bowling 101: Etiquette On The Lanes

By: John Tenn

We're all here to have FUN!

At first glance, bowling looks as simple as throwing a heavy plastic ball down a shiny wooden hallway in order to knock down ten pins at the end. As you'll soon find out, it's so much more! It's a sport that requires physical strength and coordination and mental strategies that are second to none.

Whether you're just going bowling with friends or are starting in a league, you're here to have fun! There are 8 basic rules of etiquette to follow to make the game more enjoyable for everyone:

1. Mind your manners. It's important to follow the rules of any bowling alley you visit, to be polite to staff and courteous to fellow bowlers. Some of the machinery is dangerous, and you can be hurt badly by engaging in horseplay.

2. Wear appropriate attire. Loose, comfortable clothing, socks and bowling shoes are a must. Most people don't relish the idea of putting their tootsies where thousands have gone before, but it is a necessary evil. Not only do bowling shoes protect the finish on the lanes, they protect you from slipping and consequential injuries. If you bowl regularly, you can purchase a pair of your own at the pro shop in your bowling alley or at many shoe stores.

3. Remain behind the foul line. As tempting as it might be to get closer to the pins (They seem so far away at first!), any ball bowled from over the line is considered "dead." In other words, it doesn't count!

4. Give way to the bowler on your right. Instead of rushing to bowl as soon as it's your turn, always give way to a bowler in the lane to your right who is ready to go. If you allow other bowlers to concentrate on their games, they will afford you the same courtesy.

5. Roll, don't pitch the ball. Releasing your ball on an upward swing, or worse yet, pitching it overhand, will damage the lane and, more often than not, end up in the gutter. Release the ball on the forward swing when your arm is lowest to the ground.

6. Cover any extra holes in your ball. If you're bowling with a ball that has additional holes in it, the rules state you must cover them with the palm of your hand before releasing the ball. If you don't the ball doesn't count and is considered "dead."

7. Keeping it out of the gutter. We all get them in the beginning. The dreaded gutter ball can be disheartening at first. A gutter ball cannot contribute to a score. With practice, you'll learn how to keep the ball in the lane. In some leagues, they've modified the rules. If you bowl a gutter ball and it hops out of the gutter and knocks pins down, the pins do count. Be sure to ask what to do if this happens to you.

8. If you have a question, ask. The staff at your bowling alley will be happy to answer questions about anything related to bowling. From the rules of the game to how to complete a scorecard, they are there to help you.

By following these 8 basic rules of etiquette at the bowling alley, everyone will have more fun while learning to bowl!

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