What is Gutter in Bowling and How to Avoid Gutter Ball?

gutter in bowlingGutter’ is one of the most common words used in bowling. Yet many of us still aren’t aware of what that is. Many of us know it by ‘Channel’, which is another word for a gutter. If you aren’t familiar with this bowling terminology, then you must have heard the word in some other places. Well, did you even notice the shallow edge attached with the roof that carries rainwater off? Now, did you even see anything similar that is placed on both sides of the bowling lane? Whatever your answer is, yes/no, let me elaborate on what gutter in bowling is actually.

What is Gutter in Bowling?

Imagine yourself (or actually do it physically) standing on the opposite side of the foul line of a bowling lane, exactly on the approach area. Now, do you see the two trenches placed on either side of the bowling lane? Well, there you go! Those two trenches, in other words, the channels that are located on both sides of the lane are called gutters. As a bowler, your goal is to make your ball travel down the lane without getting it on the gutter and toward the pocket to hit the pins. The reason to avoid the gutters is that, once your bowling ball enters there, there’s no way it will come back on the lane. Plus, it won’t even hit any pin and as a result, you will receive zero points.

What is a gutter ball in bowling?

The bowling gutters have a width of 9.25” (23.5 cm) and a depth of 1.875” (47.6 mm). So, when your bowling ball falls into the gutter, it can’t come back on track. Due to the depth, the ball keeps rolling in the gutter area and goes through the pocket without hitting any pin. So when your bowling ball enters the gutter, in bowling terminology, it is deemed a “gutter ball,” So, if your throw, unfortunately, results in a ‘gutter ball’, you will score no points.

Best Tips for Avoiding bowling Gutter Balls

Not bowling any strikes or spares already impacts your bowling score bit time, and no one knows it better than you. So losing a potential good score due to a gutter ball is a huge loss. Who would want that, right? So avoiding gutter balls at all costs should be on your mind all the time while bowling. Although the gutter ball is a common mistake done by beginners mostly. Once you gain some experience in bowling, you will hardly get your balls in the gutters. So check out these tips and tricks that will help you avoid bowling gutter balls.

Bumper Bowling

Remember when you were a kid and you had to use training wheels on your bicycle? Those were there to prevent you from falling on the ground constantly. Just like that there’s a way you can just stop your bowling ball from going into the gutter completely. The way is to block the gutter with bumpers. Some bowling centers have the bumper bowling option where they set up barriers on both sides and they go all the way on the lane. Initially, bumper bowling is a great way to practice without compromising any score. But don’t get used to this so much. Once you believe you’ve had a knack for that, start practicing without any bumper.

Right Weight Bowling Ball

One of the many reasons your bowling ball keeps going into the gutter is because it is too heavy for you and you didn’t even understand that. Bowling balls come in a few weight ranges. You will have to find the weight of your bowling ball that is a great fit for you. So, choose the weight of your bowling ball wisely. If the ball is too heavy for you to throw comfortably, it is more prone to going into the gutter. But it also depends on your expertise level. So go for a ball that is easy to carry. If you’re a beginner, it’s recommended not to use a ball heavier than 14 pounds.

Practice and Achieve Perfection

In bowling, there is no alternative to practicing. If you don’t want to bowl a gutter ball, you have to roll your ball straight. If you’re getting starting with hooking, and it’s repeatedly going into the gutter, then don’t be impatient. Keep on practicing. When you release the ball, make sure you don’t flex or bend your wrist. Also, keep your hand straight while swinging the bowling ball behind you.

After the swinging behind, the next thing you do is swing it forward. While you do that rotate your wrist on the right side (if you’re right-handed), or left side (if you’re a lefty). So, basically do it toward the opposite side of your body. The right time to release your ball is when it’s close to your ankle. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it on your first attempt. Give yourself some time to get used to it.


A minor wrong move can jeopardize your entire shot and make your bowling ball go into the gutter. For beginners, it is always complicated to avoid gutter balls. But with enough practice, you can surely overcome this issue. After all, who wants a zero in the bowling scoreboard? So keep on trying until you learn to roll your bowling ball properly!


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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