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Candlepin History and Facts

It all started in Worcester, Massachusetts more than 100 years ago. Candlepin Bowling was invented in the 1880’s, some 15 years before the standardization of ten pin.  In Candlepin bowling each player uses three balls per frame, the balls are much smaller and do not have holes.

The downed pins (known as wood) are not cleared away between balls during a player’s turn, and the pins are thinner, and thus harder to knock down.

The original pins were 10" high and 1" in diameter and resembled candles, which is why it was named candlepin bowling. The original designers of this game arranged the pins 11 inches apart in a triangular pattern and the bowling ball was thrown from a distance of 50 feet way.

The original bowling ball weighed 2 pounds and measured 3 inches in diameter. As you might imagine using a bowling ball this small with bowling pins of these dimensions proved very, very difficult. The combination of the small ball and the narrow pins place far apart created frustration for anyone that tried the sport.

Seeing the difficulties the candlepins created, it was decided to change the dimensions of the bowling pins and balls. The new size of the pins is 5 3/4 inches in length, 1 3/4 inches at each end and 2 15/16 inches at the center. These pin dimensions are still being used today as the standard for all 10 pin bowling games. 

The maximum regulation candlepin ball diameter is now 4-1/2 inches, with a weight range from 2.5 lbs to a maximum of 2.7lbs.

Highest official sanctioned score ever recorded is 245 out of a possible 300.


Diameter | 4.5" 100_0908.JPG

Improving Your Candlepin Bowling
With smaller balls and narrower pins, candlepin bowling is difficult. The narrower shape of the candlepins makes it harder to get a strike.  Therefore, you have to very accurate with your second and third balls. Candlepin is considered a spare game and is comparable with Baseball and Golf.

The top score bowlers get in this game is 300, it is nearly impossible to get a perfect game. No 300 games have ever been recorded.  . While the lanes have shoes and balls, you will improve your score drastically when you have equipment that fits your body. Check out different types of bowling balls and athletic bowling shoes and at our Pro-shop.

Warm up before you start bowling. By stretching and flexing your muscles, you are not only protecting yourself from getting injured, you are giving yourself a chance to get a higher score.

Make sure you focus on the pins while releasing the ball. It is much easier to roll a ball in a straight line over the even surface. The ball will follow where your eyes are focusing. Use imagery to see a good roll. When you put a positive image in your mind, this increases the chance of it happening.  Like pitching in Baseball see your target, hit your target.

Find your starting position by standing in the approach lane with your back to the pins. Your heels should be two to three inches from the foul line. Take three regular steps away from the foul line and turn around. This is your starting spot, where you begin your approach.

Do not finish your approach on the foul line. You should release your ball two to four inches from it. This is to allow for error in case you put too much exaggeration in your slide.

When you are ready to throw that ball, stand with your feet together. A little more weight should be on the leg that is the same side as the throwing arm. This gives you better balance as you walk down the approach lane and roll your ball.

Hold the ball in your hand with your fingers spread evenly around the ball. Have the thumb up. This gives the best control over the ball as you roll it.

Use the three step approach when you deliver the ball. If you are a right-handed bowler, you step with you left foot. Push the ball forward and a little to the left. Then you step with the right foot, allowing the ball to swing on the right into the back swing. Then you step again with the left foot, rolling the ball down the lane.

Follow through with your arm as you release the ball. Do not stop your movement when you release the ball. Allow the arm to continue to swing upwards, past the point of release. This helps improve your accuracy.

Keep your eyes on the pins during your delivery. If you let your eyes wander when you do the approach, you throw will be off.

Concentrate on your game. Do not let things outside of the approach lane distract you. Do not take too much time on the approach lane. If you wait too long, your concentration may dwindle.

Use discipline when you bowl. When a technique is working, stick with it, do not change it. When you make changes, you can throw your game off. Only make changes under the advice of a more experienced bowler.   Please see the Learning the Basics of Candlepin Bowling by Dale Murphy.

Learn How to Candlepin Bowl Part 1 Learn How to Candlepin Bowl Part 2