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Bowling Lane Dimensions & Measurements

Bowling is a fun indoor sport that the entire family can enjoy.  But have you ever wondered about how big and long those lanes are?  Or what about the size of the pins and how they are spaced?  Find out below.  You can also view our Quick Facts About Bowling Lane & Pin Measurements.

The Bowling Lane & Pins

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Bowling Lane Measurements

Quick Facts About Bowling Lanes & Pins

Q:  How far apart are bowling pins spaced?
A:  There are 12 inches between the bases of the bowling pins.

Q:  How tall are bowling pins?
A:  Bowling pins are 15 inches tall.

Q:  How wide are bowling pins?
A:  There are very specific widths set due the unique shape of a bowling pin.  At the base, it is 2.25" wide.  At the waist, or the widest point, it is 4.766" inches wide.  The neck is 1.797" wide.

Q:  What are the dots and arrows on a bowling lane?
A:  They are guides to help you get a strike (or knock down all ten pins with a bowling ball the first time).

Q:  How far apart are the dots and arrows?
A:  Each bowling lane has 39 boards that are about one inch wide each.  The center board of the lane is considered Board #20.  The center arrow and center dot are placed on Board #20.  Each arrow and dot to the left and right are placed on the fifth board from Board #20.  This means you'll see three arrows and dots on each side of the center arrow and dot, and they are spaced about five inches apart from each other.

Q:  What is the foul line?
A:  Bowlers may not touch or cross the foul line after they've released their ball.  It is typically one inch wide.

Q:  How wide is the bowling lane?
A:  It is usually 41.5" wide but there is a variance of 1/2 inch either way.

Q:  How big are bowling balls?  How much do bowling balls weigh?
A:  They are 8.5" in diameter.  Their weight depends on the strength of the player but they never exceed 16 pounds.

Who Invented Bowling?  A Look at the History of Bowling

Few sports can boast a historical background that goes back as far as that of bowling.  The earliest forms of the sport date all the way back to ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.  Remnants of balls dating as old as 3,000 to 5,000 years have been found in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and bowling games of different forms were described by Herodotus as inventions of the Lydians of Asia Minor.  Nearly 2,000 years ago, Roman legionaries developed a similar game which involved tossing stone objects as close as possible to other stone objects.

There are actually two different types of bowling – pin bowling and target bowling.  Pin bowling involves knocking pins over at the end of a lane, while in target bowling the aim is to get the ball as close to a mark as possible.  While pin bowling is primarily an indoor sport, target bowling can be played on surfaces such as grass, gravel, or a synthetic surface.  Pin bowling consists of games such as ten-pin bowling, nine-pin bowling, five-pin bowling, candlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling.  Target bowling games include bocce, bowls, carpet bowls, Cherokee marbles, Irish road bowling, lane/alley bowling, mölkky, and pétanque.

Indoor bowling lanes made their debut in 1840 in New York City, and the sport was first televised in 1950.  Around 1960, bowling ball manufacturers decided to switch from using rubber and wood to polyester resin, which allowed them to produce some of the brightly colored balls we see today.  Japan is home to the world's largest bowling alley.  The Inazawa Grand Bowling Centre features 116 lanes!

The first standardized rules for pin bowling were established in 1895 in New York City.  The International Bowling Board was formed in 1905.  Today, the sport of bowling is enjoyed by over 100 million people worldwide.  The Pro Bowlers Association (PBA), founded in 1958 and headquartered in Seattle, Washington, has 13 countries in its membership, including the United States, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, England, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and Venezuela.