Massachusetts Bowling Association
Candlepin Bowling Basics
MBA Houses And Associate Members
2014 State Candlepin Youth Championships
2014 State Adult Handicap Tournament
2014 State Open Classic Tournament
MBA Member Enrollment and Benefits
Past MBA State Tournament Scores
Rules And Standardization
History Of Candlepin Bowling
Candlepin Bowling Basics
How To Score
Candlepin Graphics

Below please find the "How To Bowl Candlepins" in 2 parts.  This video was done a few years ago but the basics of candlepin bowling are still the same.
We hope you enjoy this video and helps you with your bowling form and etiquette.

Learn To Bowl Candlepin Part 1

Learn To Bowl Candlepin Part 2

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*** A little nostalgia - most of this information is taken directly from brochures that were developed 25-30 years ago, including picture scans. Candlepin bowling hasn't changed much in all this time as one can see after reading all this information.


How To Have The Most Candlepin Bowling Fun!


Candlepin Bowling Is Fun & Exciting!


Everyone from the very young to seniors can enjoy the fun, excitement and benefits of Candlepin Bowling.  It us truly a sport for all.  It can be played by individuals, couples, families or teams.  Organized leagues, casual open play, special events such as birthday parties and social gatherings as well as competitive tournament action are offered to candlepin bowlers

What Is A Good Score?

Candlepin Bowling, although great fun and exciting is not easy. To date there has never been a perfect "300" score recorded. The present game record is 245. Scores of around 100-110 are considered good. Novice or casual bowlers may score between 85-90 while the best professional scores 120 or better. Naturally, practice, practice, practice is important for better scores

Bowling Etiquette


1)      Always remain in back of the foul line.

2)      Respect the lob line; roll, do not lob the ball.

3)      After delivery of the ball, walk straight back on approach.  Do not remain standing at the foul line.

4)      Do not walk in front of a bowler to pick up your next ball or to mark a score, if he/she in a position to start delivery.

5)      Do not attempt to deliver the ball at the same time as the bowler on the adjoining lanes.  If you both are ready to bowl at the same time, the bowler on the right should be accorded the privilege of bowling first.

6)      After delivering ball, use only the width of your lane for any “contortions” or “body language” in which you may indulge.

7)      Do not talk to a bowler while he/she is delivering the ball.  You can have loads of fun bowling, but do your talking at the proper time

8)      Control you temper and refrain from abusive or profane language.

9)      Do not expect a strike every time you hit the head pin.

10)  Do not throw away any balls.  You pay for ten full boxes: get your money’s worth.   Many a match has been lost by one pin which easily could have been made.

11)  Get every possible pin with the third ball.  It is the most important of all.  It picks up the pins that win matches and increases the bowler’s average.

12)  Use good sportsmanship always – give credit where it is due; remember, it is easy to be a good winner, but it takes a big person to be a gracious loser.

       13) Do not become discouraged to easily.  You can learn.  All one needs to  
               become quite expert is patience and practice

Learn To Bowl Properly For Fun And Better Scores

Real enjoyment in candlepin bowling comes easily if you learn the basic rudiments of the game.  Learn the rules.  Be a good sport.  And, always remember, it’s a game you’re playing.

All bowlers are required to observe the foul line and the lob line.  Infractions draw penalties.  The lob line is ten feet down the lane; don’t throw your ball to land beyond that point.

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The three step delivery is normal for candlepin bowling:


The START: Stand comfortably with the foot opposite the throwing arm a foot in advance of you other foot.  Face the pins and be relaxed.


The FOLLOW THROUGH:  The important factor of a successful delivery is a complete follow through with the hand and arm.  Always keep the palm of the hand and the wrist rigid.


The THREE STEP delivery with slide is recommended.  Take position ten to twelve feet in back of the foul line.  Start with your left foot and drop the ball down and away from your body.


As right foot begins the second step, your right arm begins the back swing.  Do not allow your eyes to leave the pins until completion of delivery.  Make sure the back swing is completed before the second step is run through.


The third step is the slide and brings the body forward in a crouch as the arm begins its forward motion.  Be sure the arc of your swinging arm is close to your body and that the hand is under the ball.  Hold the wrist rigid and do not allow the arm to bend.


SLIDE: Your crouch momentum and fully extended arm brings your hand and ball within a few inches of the floor.  The extended follow through helps you roll the ball instead of lobbying it.


DELIVERY:  Don’t release the ball until your arm is at the bottom swing.  The ball should hit the lane six to twelve inches beyond the foul line.  Be sure the arm is fully extended with no bend at the elbow and the ball is rolling off the fingers tips.  The value of the follow through cannot be overemphasized



          Use a straight ball, and cross lane ball.  Do not use a hook or a curve ball as these are hard to control.


          Roll the ball off the tips of your fingers without any accompanying turn of the wrist.


          The back of your hand should be parallel with the approach at the time of the actual delivery.


          The eyes should be on the pins.


          Throw a fairly fast ball as it is easier to control, is more accurate and acts the same way on most lanes.  Never use all the speed you can as you cannot exert proper control concentrating on speed.


          “Get down” to the lane in the actual delivery of your ball.  Lay the ball smoothly, do not drop or bounce it in the act of delivery.  Always follow through, that is the most important.

Cross Lane Ball

Cross Lane Ball – This delivery is suited to beginners.  This ball is accurate and easy to control.  Roll the ball off the end of your fingers, with the back of hand parallel to the floor.  Be sure there is no turn of the wrist.  The ball should always be rolled from the corner of the lane, hitting pins at an angle.


The Ball - The maximum size of a candlepin ball according to regulations is 4 ” in diameter.  Smaller balls should not be used as lower scores and machine malfunctions are likely to happen.  The maximum legal weight of the ball is 2 pounds 7ounces.  Every bowler should own four balls of equal weight and size, this will enable him/her to maintain the same grip and speed at all times

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Break Ball

“Break” Ball - While very effective, this is a difficult ball for beginners and must be thrown fairly fast to prevent “English” from taking effect to soon.  As the ball leaves your hand twist it by raising your little finger against it.  This puts “English” on the ball causing it to angle in as it nears the pins and strikes them from side instead of head on


How To Grip The Ball - Grip the ball with the fingers and thumb, making sure that the ball does not rest in the palm of the hand.  Make sure grip is comfortable before you get set to bowl.  Gripping the ball always in the same way assures you high score accuracy

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Curve Ball

Curve Ball - This type of ball should never be used.  It is very hard to control and the difference in lane conditions has a very decided effect on the workings of this type of ball.


How To Hold The Ball- Hold the ball with the same natural grip used to pick up the ball off the rack.  It should be held comfortably and firmly, but not tightly.  A ball held with the proper grip will get more pins tan a ball which is poorly controlled because of a faulty grip


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Massachusetts Bowling Association