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A bullet hits the cone
Outdoor variant as a fun sport with "living balls"
Bowling alley (GDR 1976)

Bowling is a precision sport in which a player starts rolling a ball from one end of a smooth lane (bowling alley) with a controlled swing in order to knock over the nine pins set up at the other end of the lane. The cones are evenly arranged in the form of a square that stands on the tip ( diamond ). Emerged from the cones and, therefore, closely related to him is the bowling , in which ten bowling (pins) in the form of an equilateral triangle are situated.

Bowling developed in Europe over many centuries from popular outdoor games . Today it is widespread in numerous countries around the world and takes place in its modern form in specially equipped interiors and halls. Like bowling, bowling is a competitive and popular sport , but it is even more popular as a leisure game.


Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim : The bowling company, 1834
Bowling alley (ceramic figures, Museum of Thuringian Folklore Erfurt )


The bowling game is one of the oldest sports. There were forerunners in ancient Egypt . During archaeological excavations , parts of a children's skittles game from around 3500 BC and wall reliefs in tombs that depict game scenes were found. The target throwing games of Germanic tribes in Central Europe, in which stones were thrown at bones, are believed to be the original form of today's bowling. However, due to the continuity that has not yet been proven, these cannot yet be regarded as immediate precursors.

middle Ages

On the other hand, etymological studies on the word cone ( Old High German chegil ) suggest that pre-forms of today's cone finally emerged in the early Middle Ages . Popular skittles have been documented continuously since the 12th century. For the first time in 1157 in the Chronicle of Rothenburg ob der Tauber bowling is described as a popular popular amusement. In Xanten on the Lower Rhine, a cone guild is documented for the year 1300, whose income went towards the construction of the collegiate church. At that time, however, the focus was not on the sporting aspect, but on placing bets. As a result, legal regulations are documented which attempted to curb gambling and in this way brought bowling into a connection with card and dice games. The game of skittles was repeatedly banned, for example in England under Richard II and, according to tradition, in Germany and France in 1370. Even during the Reformation , Protestant authorities tried to get rid of the prevailing cone (im) morals. In 1529, Basel prohibited bowling in the mornings on Sundays and public holidays.

None of this could permanently limit the increasing popularity of the game of skittles. For the 15th century, numerous sources prove that a "Kegelreyß" or "Kegelplatz" like a dance arbor was one of the places where people celebrated their amusements in almost every community. Derived from the cone "place" that "burst" is a common name for the cones (see Place Bowling alley ). Although it was considered a blasphemy like most games, bowling was also practiced in monasteries and often called "pagan killing": the short wooden pillars that were erected were treated by the monks as pagan gods and demons , which they knocked over with stones or wooden balls. The skittles soon became part of the great folk festivals. In 1509 a Mathias Hirt reported from the Augsburg rifle festival that the nobility, clergy, craftsmen and farmers went to the skittles together. In 1516 a chronicler at the "Eßlinger Schießen" estimated the number of participants in bowling at 1500. Due to the measurable and countable performance in bowling, it belonged to the sport early on , even if a chance element was always present, especially on uneven ground.

Modern times

Pushing a cone as child's play, copper engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki 1774
Historic bowling alley in the South Tyrolean Folklore Museum in Dietenheim

Until the 18th century, all games were played outdoors. Bowling was never absent from any fair or major wedding. It was still often about goods and money. The courtly world of the Rococo also enjoyed bowling. In 1786, the Berlin physician and scholar Johann Georg Krünitz first described "13 rules for the game of skittles" in his lexicon, some of which are still valid today, such as not being trespassed and the ball being placed in front of a certain mark. Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe were enthusiastic fans of bowling.

German emigrants carried bowling to Herzegovina , the Banat and Transylvania , but also to distant countries such as Brazil and Australia . The English and Dutch brought the game of skittles to the United States , where it quickly became widespread. In 1837, a ban on the conventional nine-pin game in Hartfurt ( Connecticut ) is said to have triggered the development of bowling: In order to circumvent the ban, a number of changes were made and, in particular, a tenth was added to the nine pins and their square arrangement was changed into a triangle be. However, some see the English “Skittle Alley” as the forerunner of today's bowling. This is supported by the fact that "candle-pin bowling" has been preserved as a special form in the United States to this day. Similar cones are used in England to this day, but are unknown in Germany.

At the beginning to the middle of the 19th century, the establishment of permanent bowling communities initially served to support the needy. But the sporting idea quickly came more and more to the fore. The Sport Bowling was born and spread rapidly. In 1884, the first supra-regional merger took place in the Ruhr area. In 1885, the Central Association of German Bowling Clubs was founded in Dresden, Saxony . From 1886 he organized “federal festivals” on asphalt and bohemian railways . A uniform set of rules was developed and the railways standardized. In 1889 he changed his name to the long term German Keglerbund (DKB) and since 1891 he has held German championships . National bowling associations have also been founded in many other European countries and in North America.

In 1921 the DKB allowed scissor lanes in Germany , and in 1929 also bowling lanes . 1924 originated in Chemnitz the German Workers' Confederation bowlers who united to his wedding nearly ten thousand members, but in the course of 1933 DC circuit in Nazism was dissolved. After the Second World War , the victorious powers also forcibly dissolved the DKB . It was then re-founded on October 14, 1950 and in 2017 still had around 80,000 members, accompanied by a decrease in interest in bowling due to changed leisure habits.


Today the German sport bowlers are organized in the German Kegler- und Bowlingbund (DKB), which is divided into four discipline associations according to type of lane:

There is also the German Classic Bowling Union DCU in Germany, which offers the traditional 100/200 throw on bowling.

In Austria the Austrian Skittles and Bowling Association (ÖSKB), in Switzerland and Liechtenstein the Swiss Sports Bowlers Association (SSKV) is the umbrella organization for all sports bowlers in the country. There is also the Swiss Free Bowling Association (SFKV). In Belgium , which is partly German-speaking, the sport bowlers have come together to form the Royal Belgian Bowling Association (KBKV), while the players in Italy , to which South Tyrol belongs to another German-speaking region, are organized in the Italian Sport Bowling Association (ISKV).

In 1952, nine national associations merged to form the Fédération Internationale des Quilleurs (FIQ), which represents all four types of lane, including bowling. In 1979 the 81st General Assembly of the International Olympic Committee in Montevideo declared the skittles and bowling federation to be Olympic- worthy.



The wooden cones of yore have long been replaced by plastic cones. The straight cut 2000 cone is used on screed and scissor tracks; The bulbous tornado and top cones have also been played on classic tracks for several years . The manufacturers cite lower wear and tear and higher drop results compared to the traditional cone shape, especially when clearing. Furthermore, so-called “passers-through” with the (small) youth ball, in which none of the front 5 cones fall, are less common.


Today balls are made of polyester-free phenolic resin ( Aramith ). The standard diameter in sports bowling is 160 millimeters at around 2.85 kilograms. The B youth (11-14 years) play with balls 140 millimeters in diameter and 1.9 kilograms. Popular sports and leisure bowlers also play with perforated balls in different sizes on classic courses.

Bowling alley

Scissor train

The bowling alley is the underground for the bowling game. It includes the contact surface for the player, the rolling surface of the balls and the positioning surface of the cones and is as flat and dirt-free as possible.

Bowling is practiced in Germany on four different types of track: asphalt (classic), plank, scissors and bowling. On each of these types of lane, the distribution of which is regionally different except for bowling, which can be found nationwide, separate championships, league games, club cups and tournaments take place within the framework of the respective sports regulations. In addition, the German three-lane championships are held nationwide every year after prior qualification : Here, the athletes have to prove themselves one after the other on the three types of lane, scissors and asphalt / classic, using the very different bowling techniques.

Federal bowling alley

"Federal bowling alley" is a seal of quality that the discipline associations of the German Skittles and Bowling Association award by licensed experts. Track systems must comply with the technical regulations in terms of dimensions, materials, controls and so on and be equipped for tournament operations (changing rooms, showers).

The vague term "bowling alley" was coined by lay people in the 1950s and 1960s and was by no means an official name. What was meant was a bowling alley that complied with the regulations of the German Bowling Association. Gastronomy businesses advertised and still use this name to advertise a bowling alley that was built by the manufacturer as a facility that complies with the regulations of the German bowling association. It was and is never quite clear whether it is actually a facility that has been approved by the DKB and approved for official sports operations.

Classicbahn (asphalt track)

See also: Kegel Bundesliga (Classic)

The approach and the support plank (length 5.5–6.5 m, width 0.35 m) are made of linoleum . The ball tread is made of asphalt or plastic and has a width of 1.50 meters over the entire length of 19.50 meters. The base must be completely smooth for optimal ball running. The entire running surface is horizontal.

The asphalt track is mainly played in southern Germany ( Baden-Württemberg , Bavaria , southern Hesse , Palatinate ) as well as in Berlin and all the new federal states with the exception of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania .

Internationally, the asphalt track is widespread in 19 countries, in addition to Germany, especially in the rest of Central Europe ( Switzerland , Liechtenstein , Austria , Hungary , Czech Republic , Slovakia , Poland ) and in Southeastern Europe (the successor states of former Yugoslavia and Romania ).


See also: Kegel Bundesliga (Bohle)

The approach and the support plank (length 5.50 m, width 0.35 m) are made of linoleum. The ball running surface is made of wood or plastic and is grooved . Like the scissor lift, the screed lift also has a total gradient of ten centimeters from the start of the supporting board to the cone stand. Due to the dimensions of the running surface (23.50 m long and 0.35 m wide), clearing is not possible on the plank track and you can only play in full.

Bohlebahnen is played mainly in northern Germany ( Lower Saxony , Bremen , Hamburg , Schleswig-Holstein , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) as well as in Berlin, Brandenburg , Saxony-Anhalt , northern Hesse and Westphalia .

In addition, bowling on the boardwalk is widespread internationally in Denmark , Poland and Namibia .

Scissor train

See also: Kegel Bundesliga (scissors)

The approach and the support plank (length 5.50 m, width 0.35 m) are made of linoleum. In the case of plastic sheeting, the top plank is also very often made of plastic. The ball running surface is made of wood or plastic and is grooved (3.6 mm – 4.0 mm). The track has a total gradient of ten centimeters from the beginning of the support plank to the cone level. The tread has a width of 35 centimeters over a length of 9.50 meters from the top plank to the scissors and then widens like scissors over a length of 8.50 meters to 1.25 meters at the cone stand.

Scissor lifts are common in the Rhineland ( North Rhine-Westphalia , Rhineland-Palatinate ), Saarland and southern Lower Saxony and Hesse .

Outside Germany, bowling is done on scissor lanes in Western Europe , especially in the Benelux ( Netherlands , Belgium , Luxembourg ) and France , as well as in Italy and Brazil .

Bowling alley

Main article: Bowling

The bowling alley is completely different from the bowling alleys mentioned above. It consists of lacquered wood or plastic. It is regularly covered with a thin film of oil. The last third of the track is dry. With a hook ball, the oil ensures that the side rotation only takes effect shortly before the pins. Instead of nine cones in a quatrefoil, ten pins are set up in an equilateral triangle.

Pinning machine

A modern variant of the bowling alley, fully electronic

The pinning machine ensures that the knocked down pegs are erected for the next player. The first fully automatic cone setting machines were put into operation in Germany on March 25, 1956. While in the beginning the individual mechanical work steps had to be carried out at the push of a button, today computer-controlled systems take over the entire course of the game from setting up the cones to counting the points and the crossing is indicated by a light barrier. The cones are either pulled up on ropes and - after "commuting" - put down again, or they are conveyed by a “rake” into a pit at the end of the track and transported by a conveyor system into the holder, which puts them back on the track. This solution, especially used in bowling, is technically more complex, but avoids the problem of the ropes tangling. However, there are often problems here, as the pins tilt and thus prevent you from returning the bowling balls.

Sports bowling

Sports bowling in the Classic area


Sports bowling is practiced as an individual and team sport. A team consists of six, in some lower classes four players. In addition, pairs and mixed competitions are held. Tandem and sprint competitions, which are played in a knockout system , are new . There are around 115,000 Classic bowlers worldwide, around 82,000 of them in Germany.

The games of the German Bowling Association Classic take place in the following leagues: Bundesliga (divided into two groups 100/200 and 120) - 2nd Bundesliga - Association leagues - State leagues - State classes / regional leagues (mostly two administrative districts combined into one league) - District leagues - District leagues Circle classes. See also Kegel Bundesliga (Classic)

German championships in individual and team competitions of all ages are held annually. For this, the individual players and club teams must qualify through district, regional and state championships.

Popular sport

Since 2006, popular bowling has been organized in the DKBC in addition to sports bowling. They can be found in recreational sports , but regularly take part in competitions, mostly on a regional level. Popular bowlers also play perforated balls in addition to the full ball. The number of throws per game is 100.

The Association of Bavarian Leisure Bowlers (VBFK) annually organizes championships for many age groups and the Bayern Cup with over 120 participating teams. In 2007, the European Community of Sports Recreational Bowling Union (EBFU) organized the first European Championship, followed by a European Cup in 2008.

Competition bowling

Germany: 100/200 litter combined

In the women’s and lower men’s classes, 100 throws are played over two lanes per player; the men play from the district league 200 litter over four lanes. Each player completes 50 combined throws per lane (i.e. 25 throws in full and 25 throws clearing). The game results of all six or four players are added up and compared to the opponent. The team that has achieved more wood wins. Tie tie means a tie. From the 2014/15 season onwards, 120 litters are played (15 full and 15 full clears, then change of lanes until every bowler has been on each lane).

International: 120 litters combined

In most European countries and in international competitions (World Championships, European Cup, Individual World Cup and so on), women and men of all ages combine 120 litters (30 litters per lane, of which 15 litter full, 15 litter clearing) over four lanes with six players completed per team.

After the total wood result of a team, two evaluation points are awarded; 6 Further evaluation points are awarded in the direct duels of the players: After each round (30 throws) one set point is awarded. If there is a tie there is half a point for each player. Then the lane is changed. After four rounds, the player with more set points receives one team point. If the set is tied 2: 2, the player with more pins gets the team point. If the number of pins is the same in the event of a tie, each player receives half a team point. At the end of the fight, the team points (six players + team) are added together. A total of eight team points are played. A win of 8: 0 to 4.5: 3.5 and a draw with 4: 4 team points are therefore possible. The winner receives two points in the table, one point in the event of a tie and zero points for the loser. The team points and the set points are also entered in the table as a second valuation in the event of a tie in points (goal difference).

By introducing the 120 litter, the aim was to introduce a uniform game system that is played by all sports bowlers in all age groups. The scoring should also increase the tension, as a decision is made in each round.

The World Association of Classic Bowlers (NBC) is trying to enforce this system in Germany despite considerable resistance. Since the Deutsche Keglerbund Classic is resisting interference with national sovereignty, Germany has been internationally banned several times. In February 2007, a settlement was reached before a court in Vienna, stating that German bowlers may play according to their traditional system, but must play play-offs according to the international system in order to be eligible to start in international cup competitions. The first division for women and men has been redesigned accordingly .

The Württemberg Association was one of the first state associations to introduce the new game system in the Classic section for the 2010/2011 round of games.

Sports bowling in the scissors area

120 litter combined

Skittles in the scissors section consists of two game variants, playing in full and clearing away.

  • When playing to the full , an athlete plays a complete game of skittles, also known as a picture, with each throw. With a fixed number of throws, the number of pins played is scored.
  • In contrast, in the clearing game , a player has to play on the pins until they have all been played. Only the middle cone, called the king, may remain (wreath), but only the 8 fallen cones are scored.

There is compulsory alleyways. On the uneven lanes, start with the left lane full, on the even lanes with the right lane full. After 15 litters the clearing takes place in the other alley. Both the game to the full and the clearing game are very varied, since no two scissor tracks are exactly the same as the next. For example, each track has a different groove due to differences in material and cut. The bowler is forced to adapt again and again to the special conditions of the bowling alley when changing bowling lanes in order to play as many skittles as possible.

From the age of 14 onwards, 120 litters are played in combination (the 120 litter rule was introduced in the 1996/97 season). This means that 30 balls are thrown on each lane, of which 15 are full and 15 are cleared. In this game practice, 700 is commonly considered the average, in higher classes a personal average of 800 and more is required. 900 wood are often thrown in the Bundesliga.

The current record of the World Association of Bowling Scissors (NBS), achieved at world or European championships, is 991 wood for men (Daniel Mittelstädt, EM 2009 Oberthal) and 979 wood for women (Bianca Mayer, 2007 World Cup Oberthal) . The German records are currently 984 wood for men (Jürgen Wagner, DM 2007 Oberthal) and 963 wood for women (Jasmin Thon, DM 2009 Düsseldorf).

In the 1st Bundesliga , however, more than 1000 wood have been reached. In the men's category, Holger Mayer from the KF Oberthal club set a new record on September 4, 2010 on the local facility with 1029 wood.

Results, wooden numbers

The results (total of cones or wood count, since a fallen / knocked down cone is counted as a wood) in bowling depend on many factors to which a (sport) bowler has to be prepared. The essential factors are: the cone shape (it has actually been found that better numbers are generally possible with the top cone), the track maintenance (by applying lubricants in accordance with the regulations, the impact behavior can be significantly improved), the ball run ( Line, twist) and so on. It is therefore crucial how well a player can adjust to a bowling alley.

At the end of a game, an average player achieves around 500–650 wood on classic lanes per 120 throws . Top players in the Bundesliga achieve an average of 1000 cones on 200 throws on classic lanes. On classic railways, individual results deviate significantly more from an average value than is the case on screed railways.

A bowling player should play an average of seven sticks per throw on board lanes, seven sticks on scissor lanes and five sticks on classic lanes. All wood below is rated as negative values ​​in descending order and all wood above as positive values ​​in ascending order. Uncombined games are assumed here.

Recreational bowling

In hobby bowling, the focus is not on sport and competition, but on socializing and having fun. In many places people have come together for leisure bowling clubs. Usually one or more of the multitude of bowling games is played. Usually the goal is to knock down as many pins as possible with one throw (push). Notwithstanding this rule, it is the goal, certain constellations of cones (in variations of the game bowling Images to throw). Certain throws such as missed throws (zero throws), "bell" ("wreath eight", nine throws), "missed use" and so on are fined in order to finance meetings and excursions. Bowling trips have a reputation for being boozy and exuberant.

Cone-specific terms

  • Rat: In French, the verb rater (= miss, fail, fail) and the noun raté (= failure).
  • Poodle: In Middle and Low German puddle (= " splash in the water" or "get wet"). In English puddle (= "puddle" as a noun or as a verb "(in puddles) splash around"). Since the ball ends up in the gutter if the ball is not thrown (the bowling alleys used to be outdoors), it becomes “soaking wet”.
  • Ratze: Probably short form of “Ratzefummel” (in the student language for eraser) or “ratzekahl” - both terms indicate something missing.
  • Release: declares itself.
  • Throwing: First throw on the entire picture (all 9 cones) when clearing

Cone boys

Bowling boys in a bowling alley, around 1910

Until the 1980s, "Kegelboungen" (or Kegelbuben) set up the cones and rolled back the ball. According to the writer Karl May , he himself was a bowling boy in 1854, and bowling started right after church on Sunday and lasted until late in the evening, and on market day until midnight. There was something to eat and leftover beer to drink, sometimes a schnapps as well, plus a good hourly wage and additional contributions to rounds of honor. The sometimes coarse conversations were understandable even at the end of the train because of the "cone thrust" that looked like an ear tube. While bowling, he claims to have met the first returnees from the New World who told him about the United States.


The square bowling is a regional special form of bowling, in which the ball is thrown in the traditional way instead of being rolled. It usually takes place outdoors and is a competitive sport only in the Mansfelder Land in southern Saxony-Anhalt. Championships have been held there since 1964. Since it was not possible in the GDR to found an independent association, the square bowlers were assigned to the "Langbahnkegler" (asphalt track).

Also the pecking is a regional special form of Kegelns that in a wood in the traditional manner exercised outdoors and thrown is. It was especially widespread in the Bergisches Land and Sauerland , but is only found sporadically today.

Games in which skittles are knocked over with a ball or top in a small arena, usually posted on a table, are referred to as table skittles .


  • Wilhelm Pehle: The bowling sport . Grethlein, Leipzig 1930.
  • Otto Bleiß u. a .: bowling . Sportverlag, Berlin (East) 1982.
  • Deutscher Keglerbund (Ed.): Commemorative publication for the 100th anniversary of the German Keglerbund . German Bowling Association, Berlin 1985.
  • Horst A. Haas: Bowling according to new rules . Humboldt, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-581-66243-4 .
  • Gerhard Gromann: Fit with skittles . Falken, Niedernhausen 1988, ISBN 3-8068-2301-4 .
  • Georg Boscai, Ernst Gron: Primer for bowling friends . Falken, Niedernhausen 1993, ISBN 3-8068-0191-6 .
  • Hermann Regulski: Popular and new bowling games . Falken, Niedernhausen 1993, ISBN 3-8068-0271-8 .
  • A. Tetzlaff: Bowling . Tomus, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-8231-0123-4 .
  • Georg Schmid (Hrsg.): Collection of bowling games . Mages & Müller, Munich 1907.
  • Karl-Heinz Schmidt: Warm up bowling. More performance, less risk, more pleasure . Sport Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-328-00499-8 .

Web links

Commons : Bowling  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Heike Hawicks: Xanten in the late Middle Ages . Böhlau, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-02906-7 , pp. 158 .
  2. ^ Arnd Krüger : Incorporating traditional games into modern sports. The German Experience. In: E. De Vroede, R. Renson (Eds.): Proceedings of the 2nd European Seminar on Traditional Games . Leuven 12-16 Sept. 1990. Vlaamse Volkssport Centrale, Löwen 1991, pp. 45-54.
  3. Helen Hoffmann: , Does bowling die out? Spiegel Online from January 2, 2018, accessed on January 2, 2018
  4. Ewald Harndt: French in Berlin jargon . Stapp Verlag, Berlin 1977, 9th edition 1987, ISBN 3-87776-403-7 , p. 42.
  5. Karl May: My life and striving . Olms, Hildesheim 1975, ISBN 3-487-08084-2 (facsimile reprint of the Freiburg 1910 edition).
  6. Swiss Free Bowling Association. In: Retrieved December 4, 2016 .