Five-pin Bowling – What is it?

For any bowling enthusiast, learning about the different forms of bowling can be great for improving their skill and choosing the best variant among them all. A trendy and well-loved variant of bowling is five-pin bowling which we will talk about today.

You might be wondering, what’s Five-pin bowling, and how does it work? Well, that is what I am here to tell you.

This article will talk about Five-pin bowling, how it works, points and scoring, rules, the highest possible score, and everything you need to know about Five-pin bowling.

Five-Pin Bowling

What is Five-pin Bowling?

Five-Pin Bowling is a variant of the bowling sport which consists of five bowling pins placed at the end of the bowling lane in a V shape that is to be knocked down by a duckpin bowling ball.

The bowling pins in Five-pin bowling are somewhere between the size of ten-pin bowling pins and duck-pin bowling pins, and there is a rubber band in the middle of each pin to help it deflect more when struck with a ball.

The bowling ball itself is small enough to fit in the bowler’s hand and consists of no holes mostly. So you can throw the ball with your hand, and your main goal is to knock down all the five pins in your shots.

This variant of the game has gotten extremely popular over the years. In addition to ten-pin bowling, many bowling alleys around the world also offer five-pin bowling lanes for all the bowling enthusiasts out there.

History of Five-pin Bowling

So, what is the origin of Five-pin bowling? How did it come to be? You might be thinking. Five-pin bowling came into origin in 1909 in a bowling club known as the Toronto Bowling Club owned by Thomas F. Ryan in Toronto, Ontario.

The plan of devising five-pin bowling was that the customers and players used to complain about how strenuous and tiring the game of 10-pin bowling was.

Thomas dealt with this by reducing the number of pins to five and cutting them down to 75% of their original ten-pin size. He then used a small hand-sized hard rubber ball to knock the pins down and thus came into the origin, the game of five-pin bowling, which is now praised worldwide.

Initially, the pins in five-pin bowling were counted from left to right in a particular fashion. For example, the leftmost pin amounted to 4, the next pin was 2, the central pin was 1, the right pin was 3, and the rightmost pin was counted as 5; however, that changed in the 50s.

Five-pin bowling is most popular in the Canadian region and North America. However, only a few select bowling alleys and clubs give players the choice of playing five-pin bowling.

Five-pin Bowling Rules

We are familiar with the history of Five-pin bowling. How does it work? To understand that, we will have to take a look at the rules and regulations of a standard game of five-pin bowling. Let us do that.

Each game of five-pin bowling consists of 10 frames like ten-pin bowling and other variations of the game. However, the rules seem to change when it comes to shots in a single frame.

There are three shots in a single frame. An open frame is where all three shots cannot knock down the five pins. A strike is when a single shot knocks down all the pins, whereas a spare is when the bowler can knock down all the pins in the first two shots of the frame. Ultimately, getting the pins knocked down in the least number of shots is what you need to do.

The bowling lane is entirely the same as it is in the case of ten-pin bowling. At the end of the lane, five pins are placed in a V shape, with the headpin placed in the center and the other pins placed next. These rules make five-pin bowling a much more unique and challenging game than different variants and why it is considered so popular among bowling lovers.

Five-pin Bowling Scoring

The feature of five-pin bowling that makes it a game of its own is the scoring mechanism. Here is how the scoring mechanism in a game of five-pin bowling works:

  • All the pins have different points associated with them. If you knock the central headpin, you will get 5 points. If you knock either of the two pins next to the central pin, you will get 3 points each, and upon knocking the last two pins on either side, you will get 2 points each.
  • The total points you will get in a single frame depends upon what kind of shots you can take and whether you factor in strikes and spares in your frames.
  • If you can score a strike on your first shot of the frame, you will get a maximum of 15 points on that shot, and the score of the following two shots will be added to your 15 points to score that particular frame. This means that the maximum score in a frame can be 45.
  • However, if you cannot get a strike and you instead get a spare on your second shot of the frame, that score and the score of the next shot will be added to this frame’s total score.
  • In case you are not able to score a strike or a spare, you will get an open frame, which means you will get the number of points associated with the pins you knocked down in a frame.
  • You can get the 45 scores in a frame if and only if you can score a triple or what is more popularly known as the turkey, which means scoring three strikes in a row.

What is the Highest Score in Five-pin bowling?

In comparison to ten-pin bowling, where the maximum score is 300, you can score as much as 450 in a single game in five-pin bowling. This is what is called a perfect game in five-pin bowling.

You can achieve the 450 figure in a game of five-pin bowling in 12 shots within ten frames. However, it is extremely difficult to do so, and most professionals cannot get a perfect game in five-pin bowling too often.

Average Score in Five-pin bowling

In traditional bowling (ten-pin), the average score for a beginner or intermediate player is considered somewhere around 100-150. That is not as much as in five-pin bowling.

When it comes to five-pin bowling, the average score for a beginner or intermediate lies above 150 but stays below 200, crossing 200 at times, maybe because of skill or luck.

Even if you cannot reach this score, there is no problem because bowling is a learner’s game, and if you do not practice and keep practicing, you are not going to be able to get better at it.

Is five-pin Bowling Harder Than Ten-pin Bowling?

Whether professional or beginner, all the bowlers seem to be searching about if five-pin bowling is more challenging than ten-pin bowling. Well, that is what I am here to point out for you. So, let us take a look at whether five-pin bowling is more challenging or not.

Spaced Away Bowling Pins

One thing that I believe makes 5-pin bowling harder than ten-pin bowling is the distance between each pin.
There are five pins and a significant amount of spacing between each pin, making it difficult for the bowler to get all the pins knocked down. In ten-pin bowling, there are more pins, and the distance between the pins is less, which makes the pin knocking easier.

Heavier Bowling Ball

A factor that makes 10-pin bowling slightly more challenging than 5-pin bowling is the heaviness of the bowling ball. However, the bowling ball can be held by adults, teens, and older people. In comparison, the five-pin bowling ball is smaller and easy to handle which can even be held by children, which is great and adds to the playability of five-pin bowling.

Difficult Perfect Game

In ten-pin bowling, the perfect game score is 300, whereas, in five-pin bowling, the perfect game score is 450. This higher score is significantly more challenging to achieve than the ten-pin bowling one. This is why I believe ultimately; five-pin bowling is more strategic and difficult of a bowling variant than 10-pin bowling.


Five-pin bowling is a great game and helps you learn the art of bowling very well. Holding the ball, throwing at an angle, learning the rules, five-pin bowling is what you should start with.

I hope you learned a lot from this article and that you will take this knowledge and implement it in your bowling sessions. Have a tremendous five-pin bowling experience!

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