What is a Sleeper in Bowling?

Knowing the bowling lingo is the first step in progressing as a pro bowler. The bowling lingo is the language bowlers use to communicate with each other. Some bowling terms are more important than others, and knowing them can actually help you learn the mechanics of the game.

One of these terms is called a sleeper. So, what exactly is a sleeper in bowling?

A sleeper in bowling is a pin directly behind another pin in the deck arrangement, hidden from view. For example, if you see 2-pin, 8-pin is directly behind it and is therefore not completely visible to the bowler.

Similarly, 5 pin is directly placed behind the headpin, and 9 pin is placed behind 3 pin. These are all sleeper pins. These pins make the game of bowling more challenging and fun to play. They help you improve your focus and keep your attention on the game.

Let’s find out why a sleeper is important in bowling and how to spare the sleeper pins to improve your score.

What is a Sleeper in Bowling?

Why is a Sleeper Important?

You may argue that sleeper pins are not as important as those visible to the bowler. But this is not true. If you concentrate on hitting the hidden pins, they may help you improve the accuracy of your shot.

If you can’t see the pins, you must rely on your aim and ability to hit the target. This can be a challenge, especially for beginner bowlers. But once you know how to hit them by targeting the pins in front of them, it can greatly improve your score.

However, there are many factors that can affect the outcome of the shot, whether you’re throwing it straight or making it hook. These include the type of ball being used, the lane conditions, and the bowler’s own personal style.

How to Spare the Sleeper?

In bowling lingo, they say how to spare the 2-8 and 3-9 sleeper leaves. Pro bowlers advise on sparing the 2-8 by hooking the ball. For the 3-9, they recommend not leaving it alone as it becomes harder to hit them on the next delivery.

Here you can read more on spare: What is a spare in bowling?

If you want to leave the 3-9, try to leave it in combination with other pins, like the 10 or 6-10. When you’re throwing a straight delivery, it will most likely not result in a 3-9 spare.

Pro bowlers often throw straight balls at sleepers, particularly in tougher lane conditions. The outcome is usually unknown if they try to hook at the sleeper. They prefer throwing straight deliveries to knock down the sleepers to avoid doing the guesswork. This technique also helps them stay consistent with their game.

However, for average players, it is often better to hook at the sleepers in order to knock down as many pins as they can on their first shot. Particularly on tough patterns, average bowlers tend to miss the sleepers consistently. So, for these conditions, throwing your spare ball straight is best instead of making it hook.


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