Candlepin Bowling and Regular Ball Bowling – what are the differences

Let the kids go candlepin bowling in the West Island
Let the kids go candlepin bowling in the West Island

Small ball bowling or candlepin bowling is different from traditional bowling in several ways. The origins of candlepin bowling stems back to 1880 when Justin White developed the sport in Massachusetts 15 years before the invention of duckpin bowling.

Both variations of the game have a similar framework. Players roll their ball down a wooden lane and the goal is to knock down as many pins as possible. In candlepin bowling, players have three balls per frame to accomplish this task, compared to the two balls per frame found in the traditional game.

Ball size in Candlepin Bowling

The size of these balls are also vastly different. In candlepin bowling, the ball is 11.43 cm and weighs as much as a candlepin. In traditional bowling, the ball is 27” and can weigh no more than 16 pounds. Because of the size difference in balls, it is much harder for the player to knock down the pins. This is one of the reasons why the highest official score for candlepin bowling is only 245 points out of a possible 300 points, as set by Ralph Semb in 1984. Since that time, only one other player has officially matched it and that was Chris Sargent in 2011.

Traditional Bowling

In traditional bowling, a player who has mastered the art of tossing the ball can easily score regular 300 games. It deals more with the spin and the speed, rather than accuracy and positioning in terms of striking the pins at the end of the lane.

This means that candlepin is thus a more difficult game to play than traditional bowling. While ball control is important above all. In candlepin, the nature of the ball means it doesn’t matter how hard or fast it is thrown, but the angle and the precision you exact your roll with that will have a greater determination on how successful you are when you are bowling.

Because of their very nature, both candlepin and regular bowling also have different levels of noise. Because of the deadwood pins in a traditional bowling tournament and the size of the balls, there is a louder sound when they strike them. This fills the room, where candlepin bowling tends to be a more subtle and peaceful experience.

That doesn’t mean that either type of game is better or worse than the other. Ultimately, it comes down to the preference of the bowler which game they prefer. Some players will prefer the traditional game and take pride in playing one style over the other. As you can certainly see, there are several differences that are associated with this game and each contributes to the unique style of the way they are both played at the lanes.

This post is sponsored by Bowling Pincourt

Photo credit: mawkymawk via / CC BY-NC

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