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Increasing Bowling Pin Carry

One positive step you can take in increasing bowling pin carry is to hit the pocket more frequently and more on average than you presently do.

If you improve your pocket percentage on strike deliveries, you can raise your strike potential.

Everyone wants to increase their bowling pin carry. Part of hitting the pocket is the benefit of getting strikes. When you do not strike, however, you leave corner pin spares.

So the relationship of pocket hits to carry percentage also involves not striking on good pocket hits.

The goal of all bowlers is getting a strike. Hitting the pocket at a high percentage rate implies you are a highly skilled and experienced player.

Beginner bowlers and bowlers averaging between 140 -170 are certainly ones who would benefit most from hitting the pocket consistently.

Let’s examine some general conclusions about pin carry based on a 2009 study presented at a Expo seminar by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC):

1. Optimal bowling ball Angle of Entry into the pocket (both sides of the lane) is 6 degrees. Four to six degrees is the normal range based upon a given bowlers delivery style.

2. An increase in bowling ball weight from 14 lbs to 15 lbs, as the example, increases pin carry.

3. Bowling ball Exit Angles and Entry Angles were used in the study.

4. The Pin Deck has a greater overall effect on pin carry than does the Kickbacks and the Flat Gutters. The Pin Deck and the Kickbacks are the greatest contributors to pin carry than are the Flat Gutters.

5. On a light pocket hit, the 3 pin carries the ten pin (right handed bowlers) and the ball exits the Pin Deck right of the 9 pin.

6. On a high pocket hit, the head pin hits the 5 pin and the bowling ball exits the Pin Deck hitting the 8 pin.

7. On solid pocket hits, the bowling ball takes out the 1,3,5 and 9 pins by a right handed bowler and the 1,2,5 and 8 pins for left handed bowlers.

These simplified factors presented in the seminar leads us to the conclusion that pin carry varies from bowler to bowler and from session to session.

Pin carry varies with each bowler’s ability to hit the pocket repeatedly and with the lanes and machinery involved in setting pins.

Anytime round objects collide, they can deflect at inconsistent angles. Because of this, pin carry will vary as well.

Depending on the ball speed, angles of entry and exit, the axis of Rotation, and bowling ball rev-rate for any given bowler, the pin carry percentages can vary.

Bad racks (poor pin spotting) can also be a factor in pin carry. The pin cells of automatic pinsetters need to be adjusted from time to time as routine maintenance.

If you are a bowler who cannot use a 15 or 16 pound bowling ball, so long as you are able to maintain good ball speed, you can still get a good angle of entry into the pocket and enjoy good pin carry percentages.


You can raise your percentage of pocket hits by working on alignment and adjustment strategies with your coach. Your coach and check, in real time, how you line-up to the pocket based on your delivery style and the lanes where you bowl and suggest adjustments when you fail to hit the pocket.

Since there are too many variables in pin carry even when you do hit the pocket, don’t worry about the carry results because they are simply out of your control.

If you hit the pocket and you carry a strike 6 of 10 times, then you are carrying at a good clip. You will see stretches where you carry more than 6 or 10 deliveries and it is in those times where you record high scores.

There are times when you carry less than 60% of the time on pocket hits where you find yourself getting “tapped” far more often than you wish. This is when you must rely on good spare shooting skills to help you maintain good average scores.

In the end, all any bowler can do is to align to the pocket, make a good delivery, and convert the spare if a strike is not recorded.