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Bowling 101

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You’ve probably hit the lanes a few times with your friends, but can you bowl without escaping embarrassment? If you don’t know a spare from a strike, forget the trip to the International Bowling Museum (that is, unless you really need to know about the sordid history of pinboys)– instead, just check out this step-by-step guide.

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Meet Travis "Kred" Foster, a 19-year-old from Los Angeles, Calif. Here at the Hollywood Star Lanes, he'll be your bowling guide.

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You can't bowl in normal shoes or sneakers (at least not well). Bowling shoes have special combination leather and rubber soles that help keep your feet on the ground. When you rent them, you're usually asked to leave your street shoes for ransom until you return the borrowed pair.

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Balls range from 11 to 16 lbs., have different size finger holes and come in a variety of colors. Some even glow in the dark! Don't let the fashion fool you, though -- pick a ball that fits your hand. You want one that's not so heavy that you can't raise it to shoulder height. The finger holes should be snug, but not tight. Photo Credit

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There are three holes in the ball. Stick your middle and ring fingers into the two that are closest together and your thumb into the one that's by itself. Your pinky and index fingers help to balance the ball when you pick it up.

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The lane is 60 feet of solid wood from the foul line to the head pin (the first one). The first 12 feet is maple, which is really hard. You'll want your ball to make contact in there. The rest is pine, a wood that's so soft that lofting the ball into it can leave a dent. (A good way to get thrown out of the alley.)

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Leave enough room between you and the foul line to make four steps. While it'll take a couple of practice rolls to figure out how far this is for you, start with the dots on the floor next to the ball return for a reference point.

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The easiest way to start rolling is to bowl straight on. Look at the little arrows about 10 feet down the lane and aim for the middle one. If that doesn't work, try staring directly at the head pin.

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Starting with the foot opposite the side that has the ball, take four steps. On the second step start to swing the ball back. Take a look at where Kred's arm is to get an idea of just how far.

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Bend your knees into the fourth step as you roll the ball smoothly down the center of the lane. You want to actually hear a "Rollllll" sound, not an audible "THUNK!" when the ball comes down.

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For balance, the foot on the same side as your rolling hand should sweep behind your body after your last step. Here's another angle showing how.

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Nobody likes sweaty palms! Especially not bowling balls. The extra moisture can cause the ball to go off course, so take advantage of the vent of hot air (a.k.a. "the hand warmer") in the ball return.

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Do not step over the line! The wood over there is highly waxed (in some cases oiled) to make the ball roll easier. It will also send you smack on your butt if you step on it!

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The biggest party foul in bowling comes from going at the same time as the person next to you. Hold back and let that person finish their roll first.

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You get a number for knocking down some of the pins; an 'X' to mark a strike when you get them all on the first try; or an '/' when you get them all in two tries (called a spare). Strikes are worth 10 points plus how many you knock down on the following two tries, and spares get 10 plus the pins from the next try.

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