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| Tips & Tricks , Bowling

Last pins standing: what to do when you bowl a split

We’ve all been there, right? You bowl a perfect ball and watch it fly down the lane, it’s a masterpiece, headed straight for a strike… Then, the unthinkable happens. The ball smashes into the pins, causing chaos – except for two stubborn pins who remain standing on opposite sides. You’ve hit the splits. 

Bowling a split can be infuriating, as it may seem like there’s no hope of salvaging even a spare. But while it is indeed a tricky maneuvers to pull off, it’s not mission impossible. 

A number’s game 

A split in tenpin bowling refers to the arrangement of pins left standing after your first throw. Understanding the numbering system of the pin pyramid is essential to tackling split pins. Here’s how it works: 

  • First row (closest to you): Pin number 1 
  • Second row: Pins number 2 and 3 
  • Third Row: Pins number 4, 5, and 6 
  • Fourth Row: Pins number 7, 8, 9, and 10 

Bowling the 7-10 split 

The infamous 7-10 split, also known as the ‘Bed Post’ split, is one of the most challenging to knock down for a spare. It refers to the two pins on either end of the back row, numbered 7 and 10. You might feel it’s easier to simply aim for one of the two pins and hope you score at least a nine, but experts reckon a spare can be salvaged, and all you need is a strong shot, good positioning – and plenty of luck. 

The trick is to throw the ball as hard as you can (while still maintaining accuracy and avoiding the gutter) at one of the pins, putting a bit of spin on the ball. If you hit it right, there is a good chance the pin you hit first will bounce from the power and spin of your ball, ricocheting across the pin bay and knocking the other pin over. Check out this video of pro bowler Mark Roth demonstrating just what it takes to knock down a ‘Bed Post’ split. 

Types of splits in bowling 

Not all splits are created equal. Here are a few of the more common splits you may encounter: 

  • Baby Split – all pins are down except for the number 2 and 7 pins, the number 3 and 10 pins, the number 1 and 4 pins, or the number 1 and 6 pins. The pins left standing often depend on whether you’re right- or left-handed. It is seen as one of the easier splits to knock down, with the 3-10 split being the most bowled spare type. 
  • Big Four – you’re juggling pins number 4, 6, 7 and 10. 
  • Bucket – four pins arrange themselves in a diamond shape. The surviving pins depend on whether you’re a right- or left-handed bowler. 
  • Lily/Sour Apple – A fancy name for a 5-7-10 split. 
  • Picket Fence – A split where the number 1, 2, 4 and 7 pins remain standing, forming a ‘fence’ in the lane. 
  • Greek Church – three pins are left on one side, while two pins are left on the other side. These pins are usually numbers 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. This is one of the most difficult spares to achieve in bowling. 

The ‘Bed Post’, ‘Greek Church’ and ‘Lily’ are the most challenging splits in bowling because of the significant amount of space between the pins left standing. The ‘Baby Split’ formations are easier to knock down. 

As with everything in life, the more you practice your tenpin bowling skills, the better you’ll get at knocking down those pesky split formations. So why not spend more time at your local Zone Bowling? It’s not just for practice; it’s a perfect spot for birthday parties, end-of-year office shindigs, or just chilling on your own. Come on over and start splitting pins like a pro! 

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