What is Duckpin Bowling & How To Play It?

DUCKPIN BOWLINGAre you looking for a unique non-traditional bowling experience? Have you gotten a little tired of the good old bowling in the bowling alleys? Well, then you definitely need to try something new. We present you the Duckpin Bowling! It is a variation of the bowling sport with different sets of rules, pins, and ball types. But is it still as the typical bowling? Yes. Can kids, adults, and elders play Duckpin Bowling? Undoubtedly, yes! So let’s learn about this sport a bit more before you plan to give it a shot.

What is Duckpin Bowling?

From the name, I assume, you can already tell it is a type of bowling game.  Duckpin Bowling is the updated version of 10 pin bowling. But it is more challenging than 10 Pin Bowling. It is because Duckpin Bowling’s bowling ball is much lighter and the pins are comparatively shorter. So it is difficult to knock down pin Unlike the traditional bowling. If you take a good look at the Duckpin bowling pins, you’ll notice they are also quite squattier that regular bowling pins.

The diameter of Duckpin balls 12 cm to 12.7 cm whereas a standard bowling ball is 21.83 cm in diameter. The weight of a Duckpin ball varies between 1.5 kg to 1.7 kg. Since the balls are significantly smaller and not as heavy as regular bowling balls, Duckpin balls don’t have any finger holes for gripping purposes. The pins have a unique shape as well. Unlike ten-pins, Duckpins are 9” in length and the bottom part is noticeably wider.

How to score in duckpin bowling?

Similar to the usual ten-pin bowling, for Duckpin, your goal is to knock down the pins at the end of the lane with the duckpin ball. This may sound very interesting, but no one has ever scored 300 in duckpin bowling in history. This is simply because it is almost impossible to score a strike with the ball. As the ball is lighter and smaller, you cannot knock down all the pins in a single shot, of course, except for some cases.

The scoring system is as same as ten-pin bowling. But here’s the thing. Unlike the traditional bowling, in duckpin bowling a bowler can roll their ball three times in a frame. The target is to knock down the ten pins in to pockets in the least number of rolls per frame.

Duckpin Bowling strategy:

It is extremely difficult to score more than 180 (on average) in Duckpin bowling. The highest score in duckpin bowling is 279 and Pete Signore Jr. is holding the record of that since 1992. After the duckpins are set at the end of the lane, the bowlers stand behind the foul line and deliver the duckpin balls. They get three chances to roll the balls in a single frame. As the duckpin balls are lighter, the player (despite their ages) don’t have to wear any special gear like wrist or finger support.

The playing procedure is not complicated at all. All you need to do is pick up the ball and roll it on the lane while aiming to knock down the pins. If you can manage to strike down all the pins into the pocket on your first roll in a single frame, then it will be considered a strike. You will receive 10 points (because of knocking down 10 pins). The highest you can get in a frame is 30 points. So after the first strike with the next two ball rolls, you can get a maximum score of 30 in a single frame.

Now, let’s talk about the spares of duckpin bowling. If you can knock down all the ten pins in the pocket with the first two ball rolls in a frame, then it is termed as a spare. You will get 10 points along with the total number of pins you have toppled with the next ball, so in total, you will be getting a maximum score of 20 points for a spare.

If you can successfully fly all the pins with all three balls in a frame, then you will get 10 points because of the number of pins. And you will get no bonus.

Your final score of a single duckpin bowling is going to be the total sum of the points you have earned over the ten frames. This includes the extra rolls you have achieved in the tenth frame due to the spare(s) or strike(s).

Duckpin bowling techniques:

It is pretty difficult to come to a conclusion when it comes to duckpin bowling techniques. This game is highly dependant on the bowlers throwing techniques, but still, players see how difficult it is to control the ball’s motion on the lane. You might be tempted to throw this ball like the way you throw softballs, but it makes ball motion more critical and prevents you from achieving finesse. So just stick to the usual ten-pin bowling ball delivery style.

To perfect your ball rolling, target precision and increased throwing repetitions are undoubtedly the keys. With sufficient practice, you can improve yourself in the game of duckpin bowling.

How long is a duckpin bowling lane?

If we measure from the foul line of the lane to the headpin, the duckpin bowling lane is 60 feet (18.29 m) long and 42 inches (110 cm) wide, excluding the ball gutters on both sides. Before the foul line, there is a 15 feet (4.57 m) space of bowling surface for bowlers to prepare for the next turn and approach.


The beauty of duckpin bowling is that people of all ages find it very easy to play and actually enjoy it. If you have never played this before, you must! There isn’t much duckpin bowling facility in the states anymore. So give it a try when you get chances before this lively and dynamic sport is lost forever. Good luck my fellow bowlers!


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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