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Bowling attracts millions of participants every year, and there are many reasons why it is an exciting and unique sport.

First off, itís very inexpensive, and you donít need to purchase any special equipment to play. People of all ages and skill levels can easily bowl alongside one another, and bumper bowling even makes it possible for young children to join in the fun.

The versatility of bowling is also something you donít see in any other sport, as it can range from a relaxing social gathering to fierce competition.

Many people go bowling when they want to spend quality time with family or friends, unwind with coworkers after a long day or even entertain a date. You should be able to find good specials and discounts at local alleys if you hunt around a bit.

At the other end of the spectrum, league and tournament bowlers regularly take to the lanes and duke it out in high-stakes matches for various awards and prizes. Most alleys offer leagues all year round, and you can find a wide variety of bowling tournaments just about anywhere.

Bowling is game that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age and body type, as a means of social gathering and physical activity. To help ensure a lifelong enjoyment in the game, the following section can help your body stay pain free and increase your scores.

Bowling requires the use of every major muscle in the body. Making sure these muscles are loose and ready for physical activity will reduce the risk of injury, increase your ball speed, and increase your consistency.

A regulation bowling alley is made of polished wood and measures 41 to 42 in. (104.1 to 106.7 cm) wide and 60 ft (18.3 m) from the foul line, where the ball is delivered, to the center of the head pin (nearly 63 ft/19.2 m to the end of the alley). Bowlers (also called keglers) roll a ball made of rubber composite or plastic, which has three or four finger holes and weighs from 10 to 16 lb (4.5 to 7.26 kg), at plastic-covered maple pins standing 15 in. (38.1 cm) high and weighing between 3 lb 2 oz and 3 lb 10 oz (1.42Ė1.64 kg), set up in a triangular array in rows of increasing width (one through four) at the opposite end of the alley.

A game consists of 10 frames, with two balls allowed a bowler in each frame. Each pin knocked down counts one point. Toppling all pins with the first ball is a strike and scores 10 points plus the total of the next two balls. Clearing the alley with two balls is a spare and scores 10 points plus the next roll. A perfect game, 300 points, requires 12 consecutive strikes.

There are many forms of bowling, but tenpins, the most widely played variation, is the principal form in the United States, Canada, western Europe, East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America. Its many variations include duckpins, candlepins, fivepins, skittles, and ninepins, with differences within the framework of each of the games.

The invention of the automatic pinsetter led to a rapid growth in the number of bowling alleys and lanes in the later 1950s and early 1960s. The heyday of bowling was the mid-1960s, when there were approximately 12,000 bowling centers in the United States. Business predominately was driven by leagues where bowlers signed up to come once or more every week for at least 30 weeks and to participate in tournaments.

Bowling has undergone a major transition over the past several decades. Whereas league bowling used to generate about 70 percent of a bowling center's business, due to societal and lifestyle changes, it now generates only about 40 percent of overall bowling business, and is continuing to decline.

The United States Bowling Congress states there are 4.1 million members of the ABC, YABC and WIBC league bowling organizations. That membership has declined by 36 percent to 2.6 million in the last five years.

There has been a steady reduction in the number of bowling centers since the 1970s, driven by both the decline of league bowling and the sale of many bowling centers so the land could be used for more profitable ventures. There are 5,498 certified 10-pin bowling centers with 113,897 lanes, and just 137 duckpin and candlepin centers with 2,560 lanes. That's less than half the number certified in the mid-1960s.

Research shows 51.6 million, or 19.1 percent of people age 6 and older bowled last year, which is only a slight reduction from 52.6 million in 1999. The number of occasional bowlers has actually increased during that period, while the number of frequent bowlers who bowling 25 or more days a year has decreased. In 1999, there were 8.8 million frequent bowlers, now, the number shrunk 21 percent to 6.95 million. During the same period, the number of infrequent (predominately open-play) bowlers increased by almost 1 million. The largest percentage increase of occasional bowling among adults was with full-time college students. Last year, the average bowler visited a bowling center 12.6 times. On average, every day you could find 2 percent of the U.S. population 15 years and older bowling.

A Great Bowling Alley did not just happen

It was planned that way

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