Bowling Terminology 101: What’s really the problem?


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

When I first began bowling, every time my lane had a mechanical issue, I referred to it as being “jammed.” Now that I’ve been around the business side of the sport for about 30 years, I’ve learned that every issue a bowler faces with a non-cooperating pinsetter is not just that simple.

With leagues now back in full force, there will certainly be times the bowlers will have to report lane issues to the attendants in the bowling center. To make life easier for both parties, I thought this would be a great time to share some of the terminology used around the lanes when diagnosing issues.

For starters, the bar that comes down and sweeps fallen pins to the pit after the ball goes through is technically known as the “sweep” or the “rake.” Now, I wonder how long it took someone to come up with that name?

It’s important to understand what the sweep is because the position of the sweep will dictate what might be going on with a stubborn pinsetter.

One of the most common issues we find with a pinsetter is what we call a “180.” To have a 180, the sweep has to be down and stopped at the back of the pin deck.

Remember that day in school when you learned that a complete circle measures 360 degrees and you asked yourself “when will I need this information?” Well, today’s the day! The dreaded 180 stoppage is so called because the pinsetter has abruptly stopped only half-way through the cycle. So, rule number 1, if you can’t see the sweep, you don’t have a 180.

So, by now I’m sure you’re waiting in great anticipation as to what causes a 180 mishap.

It could be one of a few issues like the initially mentioned deck jam where pins accidently trespass into areas they aren’t intended to be. This could cause the pins to just stop feeding because the machine can’t properly turn to feed the pins.

Sometimes we find issues that aren’t as easily seen, like lane oil being transferred to one of the many belts responsible for moving the pins. Oil on the belts can cause pins to slip on the belts and tells the workers to clean these belts and sometimes the pins too.

Every now and then a bowler might have a ball that doesn’t want to return. My usual response to a stuck ball is “it must be embarrassed” before going to the back to return the ball.

What causes that ball to want to hang out in the back though? Sometimes it just needs a rest and spins around back there, a victim of that carried down oil mentioned earlier. Other times though, there will be balls, one from each lane of a pair, that decide to meet at the ‘y.”

The “y” is where the balls from adjoining lanes exit from the back for their journey back to the bowler’s area. This is usually caused when two bowlers roll at the same time or close to the same time and the balls collide, fighting to be first to come back. Kind of like my two kids racing for the last slice of chocolate cake!

Speaking of chocolate cake, that might be the only thing sweeter than some of the bowling that came out of Albemarle Lanes last week, especially Tuesday night’s Fellowship League.

Led by the 278-744 from Mark Tarkington and the 266-645 from Kaytee Simpson, Fellowship League matched its count from a week earlier when 7 individual bowlers broke the 600-plus series mark.

Tarkington’s 278 gem included a 9-strike run while Simpson’s 266 only failed striking in the fourth and fifth frames.

David Ange fired a 266-658 which trailed only Tarkington on the men’s side of the leaders, a list that also included Troy Brickhouse (243-638), Rondell Christian (227-602), Stephen Marshall (215-601),and Chris Farrell (234-601).

Trailing only Simpson’s gem on the ladies side were Brittany Gaumond and Bobbi Jo Tarkington, who tallied totals of 205-540 and 189-508 respectively.

Chris Farrell turned in a 236-613 while cashing-in a memorable night for him last Thursday night during Martin Luther King League action. John Tyler followed Farrell with a 244-589 to go along with Boris Beatty’s 245 game and Lake Krehel’s 588 series.

Debbie Winslow (179-514), Sheri Norwood (191-497), and Leonora Vactor (464 series) topped the ladies from MLK action.

William Swinson topped the guys last Monday night with a 234-606 effort finishing just ahead of Jeremy Beasley’s 233-592 and Paul Lacher’s 230-587. Stephanie Winslow again topped the ladies from Monday night with a 230-530 finishing just ahead of Debbie Winslow’s 209-521 and Patsy Sanders’ 202-477.

Ocie Manos tossed a consistent 178-513 to pace the Thursday morning All-American Ladies to go along with the 186-507 from Stella Miller, a 174 game each from Carol Hodge, and Sharon Yonek, and a 440 series from Pat Dooley. Pat Heath turned in a nice 251-673 handicap performance during AAL.

Wednesday night’s Albemarle Rollers ladies league was topped by Sharon Hoffler’s 169-479, Susie Thomas’s 443 series, Sharon Hunt’s 170-430, and Delli Spaulding’s 166 game.

The Bumper and Youth Leagues kicked off this past Saturday with a house-full of anxious and excited bowlers ranging in age from 3 to 19, making up three lanes of bumpers and 8 teams of youth bowlers. There are limited spaces still available in both leagues, so any kids looking to join the youth program can still do that this Saturday at 9:50.

The bumper bowlers were led by the 120 game from Laylee Farrell and the 101 from Tristan Hardison. On the youth side, Christopher Vinson (185-476), Bryce Hawkins (195-468), Jacob Davenport (437 series) and Thomas Adams (159 game) led the way for the guys, while Elizabeth Scaff (127-351), Violet Olds (118-335), and Lindsay Porter (110-315) topped the young ladies.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling.