Bowling Pins Setup Formation Numbering Distance

Bowling Pin Setup – Formation, Numbering and Pocket Finding

Have you ever noticed the placement of pins and their specific configuration? This precise bowling pin setup is not a random thing, it is done strategically.

Inten-pin bowling, the pins are arranged into a triangular formation with the headpin at the corner, facing the bowler. While in five pin bowling, the pins are arranged and organized into a “V” shape, with the edge confronting the player.

The formation of the pins is important to understand, as it can influence your playing style and increase or decrease your chance of a strike.

I got a chance to supervise the bowling camps organized by Ballard’s Academy many times. Most of the time, the topic of focus there was to master hitting the pin set up from various angles.

So keep reading the post to learn about bowling pins’ layout and their impact on your gaming. Moreover, I’ll teach aiming the pocket to enhance your chances of a perfect strike.

Pins Setup for Various Bowling Games

There are various deviation of bowling ball games and each one has specific rules, setup, and techniques.

However, I’ll discuss them one by one, focusing mainly on the two famous and commonly played versions, Ten and five-pin bowling.

Bowling Pins Setup In Ten-Pin Bowling

In the Ten-Pin game, as the name shows, the total number of pins is ten, distributed into four rows, each consisting of a different number of pins.



In ten-pin bowling, the pins are arranged in a triangular formation. The triangular is equilateral, meaning all three sides of the triangle are of equal length. This of the pins is often referred to as a “pin deck.”


Row 1: It consists of only one pin called a headpin. This row is also called a leading row as it fronts the players throwing balls.

Row 2: The second row comes after the first one with only two pins. It is known as a lateral row as it is placed behind the front one.

Row 3: The third row follows the second one and contains three pins in total. This row is more exposed on the sides than the front two rows.

Row 4: The fourth row is called the lagging row as it is on the last in the pin deck. It comprises a total of four pins and is highly exposed on the edges.

To make the pins allocation in rows more accessible and more understandable, I’ve summarised it in the form of a table below.

RowsTotal Pins
First Row1


The pins are numbered according to their location. The headpin is numbered 1.
Counting is started from left to right in the remaining rows, with the pin at the extreme right side in the fourth row as 10.

Number of RowNumbering of Pins From Left To Right
22nd, 3rd
34th, 5th, 6th
47th, 8th, 9th, 10th
Spacing In The Pins

Spacing In The Pins

The spacing between pins in ten-pin bowling is precisely 12 inches or 30.48 centimeters.

The distance between each pin is the same, with the sides of the triangle measuring 35.88 inches.

This spacing and arrangement have been standardized by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and the World Bowling Federation (WB) to ensure consistency and fairness in the sport.

This unique distance is done strategically to aid the players with good skills. If you roll the ball the right way, the spacing can help you achieve a strike.

Bowling Pins Setup In Five-Pin Bowling

Here’s a breakdown of the layout of pins in five-pin bowling:

Pins Formation

The five pin formation consists of five bowling pins arranged in a “V” shape. The center pin is positioned at the apex, with the other two pins on either side at a slight angle.


Each pin is numbered based on its position in the formation. The center pin is numbered “3”, while the pins on either side are numbered “1” and “2,” respectively.



The sport’s governing bodies regulate the spacing between the pins. The distance between the center and side pins is 11.43 centimeters (4.5 inches).

The distance between the two side pins is also 11.43 centimeters (4.5 inches), meaning all the pins are at equal reach.

Bowling Pins Set Up In Nine Pins Bowling

Nine-pin bowling is a popular variation of the sport of bowling that is played with a smaller set of pins than the traditional ten-pin game.

In this version of bowling, players roll a ball down a lane towards nine pins that are arranged in a diamond shape.

Formation and Arrangement

The nine pins in nine-pin bowling are arranged in a diamond shape, with one pin at the top, two pins in the second row, three pins in the third row, two pins in the fourth row, and one pin at the bottom.


The pins in nine-pin bowling are numbered consecutively from one to nine, starting with the top pin (number one) and proceeding clockwise.

Each pin is identified by a number painted on its top surface, which is used to keep score during the game.

Bowling Pins Setup In Ten-Pin Bowling


The pins are placed equidistant from each other, with the top pin located at the center of the diamond shape.

The pins are set up so that they are all in contact with each other, creating a tight cluster that is difficult to knock down with a single ball.


In addition to the basic arrangement of the pins, there are also variations of nine-pin bowling that use different configurations of pins.

For example, some versions of the game may use a “double diamond” formation, where the pins are arranged in two overlapping diamond shapes, or a “V” formation, where the pins are arranged in a narrow “V” shape.

Bowling Pins Setup In Duckpin Bowling

In duckpin bowling, the pins are arranged in a triangular shape with a distance of 36 inches between the center of each pin.

The pins are shorter and squatter than tenpin bowling pins, with a height of 9.4 inches and a diameter of 4.75 inches at the widest part. There are ten pins in a duckpin setup.

Bowling Pins Setup In Candle Pin Bowling

In candlepin bowling, the pins are arranged in a diamond shape with a distance of 12 inches between the center of each pin.

The pins are also shorter and narrower than tenpin bowling pins, with a height of 15 inches and a maximum diameter of 2.75 inches. It also has 10 pins setup.

If you want to learn more about the weigh of a Candlepin Bowling Ball, we wrote a full article about it here.

How Are Bowling Pins Reset?

Bowling pins are reset with the use of a machine called a pinsetter.

After a bowler rolls the ball down the lane and knocks down the pins, the pinsetter machine will automatically pick up the fallen pins and place them in a bin or holding area.

Once all the fallen pins have been cleared, the pinsetter will properly lower a new set onto the lane for the next bowler to take their turn.

Modern bowling alleys use automated pinsetters controlled by computers and can quickly and accurately reset the pins.

Older bowling alleys may still use manual methods for resetting the pins, such as a person called a “pinsetter” manually picking up the pins and placing them in the proper formation.

However, this method is much slower and less efficient than the modern automated pinsetters.

FAQs Of Bowling Pin Setup

How are bowling pins laid out?

Bowling pins are laid into many different configurations depending on the game variation. For example, in 10-pin bowling, they are organised into triangle while in 5-pin games, they are put into a V formation.

How are bowling pins rearranged?

Bowling pins are rearranged with the help of a pinsetter machine which works automatically and gives the pins a specific pre-set shape.

What is the proper space for pins?

The proper space between the pins depends on the type of variation you’re playing. Generally, the space is 12 inches.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have gotten your answer and are familiar with the bowling pins setup. Let me tell you one thing that the specific confirmation or numbering may vary in different regions.

Moreover, the setup of bowling pins is an important aspect of the bowling game. The correct placement of the pins and their alignment is crucial for fair play and ensuring the game is challenging for all players.

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