As an international ten pin bowler I have experienced the sport to a great extent. The links between bowling and mathematics may not be obvious to an amateur but there are many underlying principles.
Firstly, the most complex mathematical connection with bowling is calculating and measuring a perfect fit to customise your own bowling balls. This calculation involves the degree of flexibility your fingers have, the length of your span and the width of your finger tips.
This is the information sheet used to drill a bowling ball. The measurements are written to the exact fraction. If the measurement is out, even by 1/32 then the ball can be extremely uncomfortable on the hand.
To workout your starting position in bowling you must use a calculation incorporating many different variables. There is ‘Laydown’ which is the distance between your ankle and where the ball passes your ankle and also ‘Drift’ is how much to the left or right you move when walking towards the approach. Here is an example of one of my starting positions:
A more complex equation for your starting position can incorporate the position and movement of your bowling ball on the lane. The more complex method includes the ‘Breakpoint Board’ which is the board that your ball begins to react to the lane condition. Here is an example of one of my complex starting positions:
Finally, after all the complex calculations used to perfect your technique there is then the score system that’s used which needs to be interpreted correctly. As an amateur who has never bowled other than for fun will not have even considered how the scores are calculated. Here is an example of one of my games scores:
In the bowling scoring system there are many rules used. Firstly, a strike (X) enables you to carry forward the next two shots played to add onto your total whereas a spare (/) enable you to carry forward the next one shot only. Therefore obviously if you do not spare or strike (for example the “8 1” ) your score stops there as you have missed the spare.
One of the main mathematical elements in ten pin bowling is average. When bowling a league or tournament it is whoever has the highest average over all their games who is the winner so you are always calculating your average of the games played to compare with other players. When bowling at an international level you are aiming to have a 200 average minimum throughout your games to be in with a chance of winning anything.
I hope this blog has widened your eyes on ten pin bowling as a sport as not many people consider bowling to be a sport. This is quite frustrating as it is such a complex sport that requires a lot of constant practice on your physical game as well your mental game and knowledge game.