Everyone has visited a bowling alley at least once in their lifetimes. However, have you ever spent the time to measure the width and length of a single bowling lane? Probably now, but you don’t have to since I have the measurements.
A bowling lane measure 60 feet long from the foul line to the back of the pin deck. It measures 42 inches wide and includes 9-1/4-inch gutters to the left and right. The typical bowling alley will have between 12 and 36 alleys.
To fully understand what a bowling lane is, you should also be familiar with the different parts and their measurements. I’ll explain what they are in this guide, as well as describe the differences between 10-pin, 9-pin, 5-pin, candlepin, and duckpin bowling lanes.
Bowling Lane Dimensions
If you visit your local bowling alley, you’ll most like find that it is equipped with at least a dozen lanes for 10-pin bowling. This is the most popular type of bowling, which is governed by all sorts of leagues, including the US Bowling Congress and the Professional Bowlers Association.
While there are several professional bowling leagues scattered throughout the US and beyond, just like the bowling pin dimensions, the bowling lane dimensions follow the same guideline. Here’s a brief overview of a regulation bowling lane’s measurements.
- Lane Length—60 feet from the foul line to the headpin and 62 feet 10-3/4 inches to the back of the pin deck
- Lane Width—42 inches between the outer edges of each gutter
- Gutters—9-1/4 inches wide
Parts of a Bowling Lane
Everyone knows that bowling lanes rectangular alleys that are much longer than they are wide. However, if you want to get into the specifics of a bowling lane, then you should understand the various components that make it up.
Bowling Lane—The lane where the bowling ball must pass. The lane also includes the gutters. The lane measures 60 feet from the Foul Line to the headpin (frontmost bowling pin) and 62 feet 10-3/4 inches to the back of the Pin Deck. The lane measures 42 inches wide from the outer edges of the Gutters. Bowling Lanes are made with 1.06-inch-wide boards that measure 1.06 inches wide and span the entire length of the Lane.
Gutters—The grooves found on both sides of the lane. When the ball enters one of the gutters, it is an automatic miss, regardless of whether the ball bounced out the gutter and made it back onto the lane. Each Gutter measures 9-1/4 inches wide.
Approach Area—The rectangular field in front of the Bowling Lane. Players are allowed to move around in the Approach Area before throwing the bowling ball. The Approach Area measures 42 inches wide and between 10 and 15 feet long.
Foul Line—The line that separates the Approach Area from the bowling lane. Players must have both feet behind the line when throwing the ball. If they pass the line, then the throw is invalid, and the thrower will receive 0 marks. The foul line spans the entire width of the lane (42 inches) and is roughly 2 inches thick.
Lane Arrows—The arrows are located 15 feet in front of the Foul Line. These arrows serve as a guide for bowlers to aim their throw. Alternatively, players can look at the pins when aiming. The Lane Arrows must not measure longer than 1.25 inches long. They are placed on the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 30th, and 35th boards.
Pin Deck—The farthest part of the lane from the foul line. The pin deck extends 2 feet 10-3/4 inches from the back to the headpin.
Bowling Lane Variations
The measurements above describe the bowling lane for 10-pin bowling. However, there are other types of bowling, which include 9-pin, 5-pin, candlepin, and duckpin. So, how do their lanes differ?
|Type of Bowling Lane||Length (Foul Line to Headpin)||Width (Including Gutters)|
|10-pin||60 feet||42 inches|
|9-pin||64 feet||51.6 inches|
|5-pin||60 feet to 62 feet 10 inches||41 to 42 inches|
|Candlepin||60 to 62 feet 10 inches||41 to 42 inches|
|Duckpin||60 feet||42 inches|
What Are Bowling Lanes Made of?
If you take a look at a bowling lane, you’ll discover that there are only 39 boards that make it up. Each board measures roughly 1.06 inches wide and 62 feet 10-3/4 inches. The lanes are numbered 1 through 39, with the arrows drawn on specific boards to help players aim their throws.
Each of the boards is made of maple or pine wood. Some boards are made of wood and have a synthetic overlay.
Maple wood is the traditional wood type used for professional matches. It’s the costlier type of wood since it can withstand the shock and rolling of heavy bowling balls. Since they’re so durable, bowling alleys don’t have to pay as much to maintain maple boards, and it can be used for over a decade before being completely worn out.
Pine wood is the cheaper alternative to maple wood. The great thing about pine wood is that it doesn’t shrink or expand due to temperature changes, so it can retain its shape throughout the year. However, pine will wear out more quickly and have to be replaced more frequently.
Synthetic flooring is the cheapest alternative. It is given a wood-like finish to simulate maple or pine wood. Synthetic material will usually outlast wood, and it doesn’t require nearly as much oil to maintain its frictionless surface.
Some bowling alleys will use a mixture of different materials. For instance, a section of the bowling lane will be made of maple wood for its durability, while parts that don’t aren’t beaten up as much by the bowling ball are made of pine.
Why do Bowling Lanes Need Oil?
Regardless of what the lanes are made of, they will require a constant coating of oil from time to time. The oil coating has two purposes: to reduce friction and allow the bowling ball to roll more freely and absorb some of the impacts when the bowling ball lands on the lane’s boards.
Also, oil gives the lane a beautiful shine, which makes the bowling lane more attractive to serious and hobbyist bowlers.