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Going bowling

Does the phrase “lets go bowling” bring you out in a cold sweat as you remember some hideous birthday party in secondary school? Or does it conjure up images of nerdy looking middle aged executives dismally watching yet another ball slip into the gutter? By no means relegated to the back room of crowded amusement centres rammed with arcade machines, the tenpin bowling alley is coming back into fashion! Seriously! As the second most popular participation sport in the world it attracts people of all ages and sizes, especially since its one of those sports which doesn’t require physical fitness and strength (unless of course you want to act hard and bowl with the heaviest ball on the rack…) It’s also a really good alternative to the more usual types of social entertainment, and a lot of bowling alleys also have a bar so no need to compromise there. 

The origins of Bowling

Evidence has been uncovered indicating that bowling originated in Ancient Egypt over 7000 years ago, with pins and a ball like object being found several tombs. The principle of throwing something at an upright object to knock it down has also been uncovered in Polynesia, where hundreds of
years ago the islanders played a type of bowling game. Bizarrely enough, the modern game of tenpin
bowling is thought to have its roots in a German religious ceremony. Back in 300AD German peasants carried a special club called a “kegel” to protect them from enemies. The church used this as a test of faith: people would have to balance their “kegel” on the ground, which would represent a heathen, and then roll a stone to try to knock it down. If they missed it indicated that they were sinful. Someone somewhere must have realised this was actually quite good fun, so the religious overtones were dropped and a few more targets were added – any number usually up to 15. The game was brought indoors, and a competitive element started creeping in. Back in the
UK, however, notorious monarch Henry VIII banned bowling… apparently it distracted his troops from archery and sword fighting, but maybe he just wasn’t very good at it.

Bowling or gambling?

By the nineteenth century, tenpin bowling had become very popular in America, which inevitably ledto it being banned on the grounds that it encouraged gambling. This prompted the formation of the National Bowling Association in 1875, to standardise the rules and make sure that its members weren’t involved in gambling. In 1909, Sweden took up American tenpin bowling, and it gradually started to spread throughout Europe and an International Bowling Association was founded in 1926.

Entertainment not sport

Nowadays, bowling alleys are divided into separate lanes of regulation length with gutters running down the sides, waiting to scoop up any off centre balls. Bowling as entertainment as opposed to sport is as straightforward as it could get - with mechanised positioning of the pins linked to a computer scoring system which also directs the players’ games, knowing the rules is simply an added bonus. Anyone can have a go.

ARSE: Successful bowling

According to the experts, the key to playing a successful game is ARSE. That’s Angle, Release, Speed and Equipment. Bowling balls have different weightings, it’s best to pick a ball whose weight you feel comfortable throwing rather than going for a “lucky colour” (although the latter sometimes works…)
Professional players who can put spin and sideways action on the balls use different weightings for different types of shots. The following descriptions of how to KO those pins with a strike applies to right handed players, left handers just do the opposite: Push the ball out and down, and step forward with your right foot. Let the ball swing down to your side with a pendulum swing and hold out
the left hand for balance. Move forward slightly on your left food and bend the knee, allowing the ball to roll off your hand and follow through. Make sure you don’t foul by stepping across the boundary line!

Bowling alleys in BCN

If you fancy giving bowling a shot there are plenty of places to choose from. One of the best can be found in Barcelona’s biggest shopping centre La Maquinista (Metro Sant Andreu, line 1. Tel: 93 5042100 This has a great bowling alley, complete with a bar, disco music and UV bowling balls that glow when you chuck them towards the pins. Another important indoor bowling centre is the Bowling Pedralbes, Av. Dr. Gregorio Marañón, 11 Bajos, Tel: 933 330 352. Open from 10am – 2am.

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