Split in Bowling: Everything You need to Know

Split in Bowling

What is a “Split” in Bowling?— I don’t know about you, but to me, ‘split’ is the most terrifying word in bowling. I’d rather see my ball knock down only two pins than see the remaining two pins standing on two different sides on the lane. It’s hard to score a spare when you have a split waiting for you on the other side. But does this mean, there’s no way you can hit a split? Of course, you can! You have to be extra careful and very precise during this particular shot. So let’s jump right into the deep knowledge of splits in bowling.

What does split mean in Bowling?

According to bowling terminology, a split is an arrangement of bowling pins that are remaining on the lane after some of the pins have been knocked down by a bowler on his/her first shot. When a split situation is going on, you will see there are 2 or 3 pins that are still standing and the distance between the pins are more than the diameter of your bowling ball. One of the most difficult and common splits is the 7-10 split where the beck right and back left pins are remained to be hit. There are some other scenarios that are considered as splits. By definition, any significant distance between these pins are called splits— 4-5, 5-6, 4-10, 6-7, 4-6-7-10, 5-7-10, 1-5, 3-9, 2-7, 3-10, etc are some of the examples.

What causes a split in bowling?

Splitting in bowling is just the most detrimental thing you can come across. Honestly, it is the worst! It’s detrimental to your scores, it’s detrimental to your mindset— overall, it has the ability to even ruin an entire game. The first thing to look into if you’re spitting too much is your hand and what it is doing at the release. Sometimes, bowlers tend to put a bit too much effort into their bowling swing and the ball release. And, that is the biggest mistake.

There is a direct correlation between the control you have with your bowling ball and then the amount of effort you put into it. So a lot of times when you are facing splits more than you usually do, your bowling ball is getting uncontrollable as it goes farther down the lane. But what causes the splits is the amount of effort you put into your shot and ball.  If you’re really tense, your bowling arm won’t be relaxed. Generally, when a player is tense, he/she try to create a lot of revolutions and throws the ball on the lane with more force. This is when an uncontrollable ball reaction occurs and that leads to leaving more splits on the lane.

The angle is also another important factor that ends up giving us splits. Even if your effort into the ball was perfect, a wrong angle can also result in splits. A lot of the time, bowlers like to see that big boomerang-type angle down the lane. I know it looks beautiful. Unfortunately, if your angle is off, your ball won’t the pocket correctly. It will either go a little high or a little light. Oftentimes, this is when you leave the ‘Bed posts’, ‘Greek Churches’, or even the ‘Big fours’.

How to hit a split?

If you can find a way to get your splits to start leaving achievable spares, then you can take your bowling game to another level. Splits are the hardest setup in bowling, even pro bowlers are afraid of that. Ideally, you would love to knock down all of the ten pins on your first shot, dodging the need for a second shot. But when push comes to shove, you gotta do at least something to hit the split and secure a spare. Aligning your ball with the position of the splits isn’t enough. Then again, it’s not much different than a regular spare.

Apply your best spare-picking method to pick up this special kind of spare. During splits, you will have different pins to look at. For example, when you see a 6-7-10 split, align your ball aiming for the 10 pin. The 10 pin will knock down the 6 pin, and then the 6 pin will slide to the 7 and knock that out. The basic rule is to aim for the pin that can slide to the other pin and knock that one down. If you’re a righty, align yourself and the ball with the ball that is on the right side and throw the ball at an angle where you can pick up the pin that is on the opposite side and vice versa for the lefties.

How to avoid a split?

When you’re bowling, your hands and muscles should be at ease. You need to create a softer hand where your muscles are relaxed yet active. Remember you still need to create revolutions, but as you throw the bowling ball on the lane, make sure you put in less effort because the maximum effort is what jeopardizes your shot and leaves you with terrifying splits at the end of the lane. Excessive force/power minimizes your accuracy big time as it creates a violent ball reaction. Trust me, you don’t want that.

Even the power-dominant bowlers maintain a specific range of force to throw their balls. So keep the shot simple. Maintain the level of effort you’re adding to the ball— not too low, not too high. Keep in mind, when you’re throwing your ball softer, your bowling ball will read the lane a bit earlier. By throwing correctly, your ball will get through the breakpoint and hook right on time before it enters into the pocket.

When your angle is off, especially when it is way too much going down the lane, learning how to just not create as much angle down the lane and trying to get a nice ball motion should be your main priority. Your bowling ball’s motion has to be predictable and smooth. If your ball specs say that it has great hooking ability, it will read the lane on time and hook in a desired angular shape before it gets farther down the lane and hits the pins. Hooking doesn’t mean you have to throw the ball hard. Do you enjoy and love to see the beautiful angular hooking? Don’t worry. Just soften up your hand and you’re actually gonna see a more controllable even if your angles are bigger.


The best way to hit the splits is to master the art of picking up spares. For that, you need to practice a lot. There are thousand different styles that can help you get the splits. See what suits you best, obviously, depending on the type of split you’re about to face. Don’t be too scared. Split happens. Learning how to avoid it in the first place is the smartest thing to do. But even if you have to face them, trust your gut and picture them as a regular spare.


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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