How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Alley Lane Dimensions

Bowling is a fun as well as a loving indoor game that has become one of the most pleasant pastimes for a large number of Americans. This game you can play with anyone like family, friends, and even with the person, you don’t know!

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

If you are a beginner bowling player, then maybe it seems to you that the ball takes enough time to roll down the lane to shatter those pins. At the same time, if you are an advanced-level player, then maybe it seems to you that the bowling ball takes a little bit of time to reach the pin deck to smash the pins!

A standard bowling lane measures 60 feet from the foul line to headpin. The width of the lane is about 42 inches, with the gutters at the sides. This is why beginners find the pins appear to be miles from the approach line.

The approach dots are located 15 feet from the foul line. The foul line is 15 feet from the arrows. Gutter width is usually 9.5 inches so the balls can move quickly in them. These dimensions are the same as a bowling alley.

There are many things you can measure on a bowling lane! There are many things you can measure on a bowling lane, but these are all standard measurements that make a huge difference.

The distance from the foul line to head pin is 60 feet. However, most bowlers don’t know much about it so let’s get into it.

What is the Bowling Lane?

The bowling lane is where the bowling ball will be rolled to allow pins to be dropped at one end. This surface can be made from wood or synthetic material.

The lanes can undergo minor modifications depending on the type of bowling being played. These long lanes make pin knocking more difficult. This reduces friction between the bowling ball and the lane. It allows for faster bowling balls rolling and allows players to use their skills to control the speed of the bowling ball.

Dimensions of the Bowling Ball Approach Area

Each bowling area must follow the same rules, but each center can do it differently.

First, the approach must be at minimum the width of the lane. It must also extend at least 15 feet from the foul-line.

Two sets of dots are located near the back end of the approach. The first set is located 15 feet from the foulline, while the second set is 12 feet away.

Every dot corresponds with the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 boards, just like the arrows.

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

There is also another set of dots located between the foul line and the boards that help the bowler locate the right board to place the ball on.

Two things are most important to distinguish one approach from another: the width of the ball returning and the step (or absence thereof) from the settee onto the approach.

Some centers do not have any step up, while others have a step up of 4-5 inches.

The ball return can extend to the foul line in different ways. Some may be closer than others, while others can be very wide and encroach on a bowler’s stance or walking path.

These changing variables are the responsibility of the bowler, just like the conditioner variables on the lane.

Bowling Lane Sections

First, you should know about the sections of a lane before you dive into the features of a bowling lane dimensions. A lane is divided into three sections, and they are:

  • Midlane – Lesser oil is applied here
  • Back end – There is no need to apply oil
  • Front end (heads) – Most oil is applied here

The bowling lane is made up of different sections. If you want to become a pro, learning about all these components is vital. Let us look at each of the sections and their terms in bowling.

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

Approach Area

The approach area is the space between the foul-line and the player. It is the area where the player must align according to the ten-pin arrangement of the pin deck. It is crucial to align yourself correctly in the approach area if you want a perfect hit.

Approach Dots

Most of the lanes have two sets of approach dots! The first set is positioned 12 feet above the foul line, and at the same time, the second set is positioned 15 feet above from the foul line.


On either side of the lanes, there are two gutters. These gutters can be used to collect the ball if it misses any pins or de-tracks. If you throw the ball and miss your mark, or if you can’t hit any pins, your shot score will be zero.

The gutter is the outside place for both sides of a lane. Once the ball reaches this gutter area, it can no longer hit the pins. The combined length of gutter and the lane should not be more than 60.25 inches and less than 60 inches.

At the same time, the gutter should be 9.25 inches and lie 1.875 inches deeper than the lane surface.

Pin Spots

All the pins come out with an equilateral triangle pattern, where the 10th pin is the rightmost, and the 7th pin is the leftmost. All the pins are located at the pin spots, the distance between each pin is 12 inches. Each and every spot is 2.25 inches/diameter.

At the corner of the pin deck, the 7th and the 10th pin should be kept at 2.5 to 3 inches. Look, the lane distance from the foul line to the center of the first pin is 60 feet and this distance is 62 feet 10.1875 inches for the last pin of the deck.


Most probably, you’ve already noticed small strips made of wood on the width of a lane! Do you know their names? They are called boards! These boards help players to get a position and aim at hitting the pins. Usually, a lane has 39 boards where each board is one inch wide.

Aiming Arrows on a Bowling Lane

The aiming arrows are located after the foul-line. The aiming arrows, appropriately named, are designed to help players aim and know where to shoot their shot. You will see seven aiming points on a regular bowling lanes. These can be used to your advantage to hit the pins at the other end.

how far are the arrows from the foul line in bowlingThe arrows represent the only variable in a lane’s dimensions that is not precise. This area of the bowling lane specifications is subject to modification.

In reality, the USBC only provides guidance for a range dimensions that must be followed.

The arrows should not start earlier than 12 feet from the foulline. They measure approximately one board in width (approx. 1.08”) but cannot exceed 1.25′.

There is no guideline for the length of an arrow, except that they must not exceed 6 feet in length.

The end of the middle Arrow cannot be more than 16 feet down the lane.

Most dimensions indicate that arrows are approximately 15-feet away from the lane, but in some centers the first may be as close to 12-feet.

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

However, they can be placed on standard boards such as the 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, or 35 boards that form a “V”. The middle arrow marks the farthest down lane.

This is what you might see in a typical bowling center.

The 5-board and 35-board have the first arrows. They start at 14 feet and end at 14.5 feet.

The second set of arrows can be found on the 10-board or the 30-board, starting at 14.5 feet and ending at 15 feet.

The third set is located on the 15 and 25-boards, starting at 15 feet and ending at 15.5 feet.

The 20-board’s last arrow can be found at the 15.5-foot mark, ending at 16 feet.

Lane Approach

Lane approach is the name of such an area that the player uses to walk or quickly move toward the foul-line to deliver a ball. It is about 15 feet in area. With the 39 boards, the lane approach line up the ones on the area of the lane.

So, if you want to consider the whole area of the lane including the lane approach, then it will be in total 75 feet.

Dimensions of the Bowling Approach Area

There are the same features for every bowling approach area, but every center has some room to do it a little bit differently. For the beginners, the approach should be at least the width of the lane, and it will definitely prolong at least 15 feet behind from the foul line.

You will see two sets of dots near the rear of the approach. At the same time, there is also a third set of marks you will find 2-4 inches away from the foul line. It helps a bowler to reach the proper board or to place the ball down while releasing the ball.

There are two most common things you will see: one approach to another approach is the width of the ball coming and the start-up from the settee area onto the way. At the same time, some of the centers have no push up when other centers have a 4-5 inch push up.

To get a ball return, some players reach closer to the foul line than others when some players get in the way as bowler’s stand or walks. How to deal with the variables relies on the bowler’s responsibility because the bowlers would adapt to the lane’s variables of conditioner!

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

Oiled Area

With a distance of 4 inches from the foul line and 38 feet down from the lane, oil is applied on the bowling lanes.

Foul Line

The foul-line is a line that is supposed to serve as a boundary for the players. The line is located at the edge of the approach area. While throwing the ball, players must keep in line with this line. Failing to do this will lead to the shot being deemed a foul.

Yes, we are at the Foul Line! It should not be more than 3/8th of an inch and 1 inch wide. The line should focus on the entire lane and be clearly noticeable. This line should be much more visible as it helps players to know where to be and when bowling.

The foul line is the line of signal to stay in the game! So a player should not cross the line. And the ball should not be allowed to go outside the line.

The location of the location markers (Breakpoint Markings), Down Lane

Although there is no legal requirement that a bowling lane must have darkened hash markers, many do. However, I’d wager that most modern lanes include them.

There are only four, and they’re not like arrows or dots.

The 15 and 25 boards are the first, starting at 34 feet and ending at 37 feet down the lane.

The second set can be found on the 10 or 30 boards, starting at 40 feet and ending at 43 feet down the lane.

These marks are often used by bowlers as a reference point to determine a ball’s exit position on a given pattern relative to its major breakpoint.

While there is no set rule for a bowling lane to use these marks or place them exactly, virtually all bowling lanes that use the hash marks do so in exactly the same places.

The Location of the Location Markers Down Lane

Basically, there is no necessity for a bowling lane to cover darkened hash markers, and many of them don’t do. But if you take a look at the modern lanes, then the scenario is different – most of the lanes do cover them.

The first set is placed on the 15 and 25 boards where they start at 34-feet and end at the 37-feet down lane. At the same time, the second set is placed on the 10 and 30 boards where they start at 40-feet and end at the 43-feet down lane.

It’s pretty easy and natural for the bowlers to use all these marks as a relating point for a ball’s exit location on a given character in connection to the ball’s higher breakpoint. Although it’s not a rule that a lane should have these marks and every bowling lane should use the hash marks in the same spots.

Dimensions and specifications related to the pin deck

The pin deck extends 2ft 10 3/16 inches beyond lane. The pin deck adds an additional three inches to the length of the bowling lanes, making them total 65′-10 3/16” from the foul line to pinsetter machines.

The headpin is located in the middle of the lane at sixty feet. Each pin is exactly 12 inches apart, measured from the center of any pin to the center of its adjacent pin. It’s in the form of an equilateral triangle.

Each pin measures 4.75 inches wide at its widest point. There is a 7.25 inch gap between neighboring pins. This allows a bowling ball to pass between the pins side-by-side and hit both.

There are four rows, with the head-pin being the only pin in the first row. The distance between the center of a head-pin and the pin line in the next row is 10-3/8 inches.

A pin in a row is exactly 10 inches apart. This means that the 1 and 5 pins are centered at the 20th Board, while the 3 &9 pins are centered at the 15th Board, the 3 &9 pins are centered around the 15th Board, the 2 boards centered about the 25th, the 2 boards centered over the 25th, the 6 pin is centered onto board 10, the 10-pin is centered upon board 10, and the 6-pin is centered o board 10. The 30-pin, the 30thboard, while the 4pin is centered off the 30th, while the 40th board and the pinst board.

Finally, the tail plank and pin deck are positioned behind the pinsetter curtains. The lowered pit is approximately four inches below the lane surface. The USBC, which oversees the sport of bowling, does not make these measurements exact. However, they do allow for some variation.

You may see that most specifications for bowling lanes are the same around the globe. However, there are some points that can be modified. This could be why some centers carry better or worse bowling balls and why some centers that target arrows require some bowlers to make mental adjustments they wouldn’t normally need to in other centers.Now let’s go and take an eye on the lane dimensions and then discuss these lane sections more. Are you interested? Hmm… great. Read on.

Bowling Lane Dimensions: Bowling Types

It doesn’t matter where you bowl, the lane always will have particular dimensions and definite sections! It’s convenient for you to know about the features and dimensions of an ideal bowling lane before you start bowling. Don’t you think so? Probably, your answer is yes, and you’re here to learn the lane dimensions and markings, right? Great! Let’s move on.

Five types of bowling are widely accepted and understood around the globe: ten-pin, nine-pin, candlepin, duckpin, five-pin, and nine-pin. Generally, ten-pin bowling alley is found in the most developed regions of the world. The other four styles of bowling are more unique to specific areas. We will break down the dimensions of all five bowling alleys in detail, so you can get an idea of the general specifications for alleys across the globe.

Note: Some bowling alleys alter the dimensions of their lanes for different reasons. We won’t cover custom lanes. We will instead be looking at the regulations for the five bowling games we have listed.

Ten-Pin Bowling

A regulation ten pin bowling lane measures 60 feet long and 42 inches wide, from left to right. We refer to the length of a 10-pin bowling lane as the distance from the line to its head pin. A regulation ten-pin lanes are 60 feet long, from the line to pins.

Two sets of approach dots are located in the area just behind the line. This is where most bowlers start their shot.These approach dots can be found 12 and 15 feet away from the foul line. These approach dots will help you to time your steps and prevent you from fouling the line by not stepping over it during your release.

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

To set the line for a shot, most bowlers use a set seven offset arrows that are 15 feet beyond the foul-line. The center arrow, which is used to measure the distance from the line to the arrows, is to be clear. While some bowlers prefer to use pins as their focal point for shooting, others prefer the arrows. However, the arrows are a better option for those with visual impairments and those with control problems.

Two gutters are placed at the end of each ten-pin bowling lanes. They drop 1 7/8 inches below the lane and measure nine 1/4 inches in width. A gutter that is 9 1/4 inches wide can hold any regulation bowling balls. It has enough space on both sides to allow it to travel at maximum speed without sticking. A particular board is useful for bowlers who need to be more precise in their alignment and set up shots.

A tail plank is a board that’s located behind the pin deck and serves to protect the pin deck from damage. The maximum thickness of a regulation tail plank is 2 inches. A 9 7/8″ thick pin cushion is included to soften the pinfall.

The length of the bowling equipment for a lane is approximately 87 feet. This includes the lane, the approach area, as well as the space for the machine and return.

The bowling lane surface for ten-pin lanes is made from synthetic materials, wood, or a combination of synthetic and wood. Each lane has its unique oil pattern, which protects it and enhances the lane surface reactivity. A long oil pattern is any oil pattern that exceeds 42 feet in length.

We’ve now covered the most well-known type of bowling lane, so let’s get to the lesser known bowling lane sizes.

Nine-Pin Bowling

Although nine-pin bowling alleys are rare outside of Europe, some Central Texas communities with large German immigrant populations have them.

The length of the nine-pin lanes is 64 feet. It runs from the foul line to the bowling pins. Ninepins is also different from ten-pin bowling because the string runs across the line. To count, a legal shot must pass below the string. Gutters are not available on regulation nine-pin lanes.

The width of most nine-pin lanes is the same down to the bottom. A Scherenbahn (or scissor lanes) may be used in some parts of Germany. The scissor lane is narrower towards the front and wider as you get closer the pins. These lane types are also the only ones with gutters.

Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling, a special form of the sport, is only available in New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.Candlepins are thinner than regular bowling pins, and they don’t clear the lane in the middle of turns.How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

The dimensions of the lanes are nearly identical to those used for ten-pin bowling. They measure 60 feet from the foul line to the headpin. However, they are only 39 boards wide and 41 inches in width. This is one inch less than a regular candlepin lane. The lane has a centerboard that many use to guide their shots. Candlepin bowling has the same approach area as ten-pin bowling. However, candlepin balls are smaller than normal bowling balls which contribute to the difficulty. Three shots per frame is enough to make up the difference.

Maple is the lane surface for most candlepin bowling lanes. As yet, synthetic lanes are not allowed in the sport. To catch pins after impact, a very heavy backstop is covered with a dark curtain. This helps direct them to the pin pit.

Duckpin Bowling

Duckpin bowling, another variation of the sport, is a unique variant that originated in the New England region. There are nine duckpin alleys across the United States, 8 of which are in New England.

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

Duckpins are smaller and more squatter than regular pins. Additionally, duckpin bowling ball have finger holes and are smaller than regular ones. The scoring system is very similar to that of ten pin bowling. Bowlers can have three frames instead of two, and they get three attempts at each frame.


The dimensions of the lanes are almost identical to those used for candlepin bowling. They are 41 inches in width and match the 60-foot regulation tenpin lane’s length from the foul-line to the head pin. The approach area for duckpin is the same for candlepin or ten-pin.

Although the widths of the duckpin/candlepin lanes vs tenpin lanes may not be significantly different in theory, a loss of one inch can cause your game to slip and make it difficult to hit your target in a tenpin bowling session.

Five-Pin Bowling

Five-pin bowling was created by Thomas F. Ryan in 1909 to address complaints from customers of bowling alleys who felt ten-pin was too stressful. It is now a Canadian exclusive. A fair number of normal tenpin alleys in Canada offer five pin bowling.

Although the scoring system is different from ten-pin bowling it’s very similar to candlepin or duckpin in that each player receives three shots per frame. The bowling balls are small enough that they can be held in one’s hand, and do not have finger holes.How Long is a Bowling Lane? Bowling Types & Lane Dimensions

The lane dimensions for five-pin bowling range from 60 feet to 62ft, 10 inches. A five-pin lane that is accepted can measure anywhere from 41 inches (identical candlepin/duckpin) up to 42 inches (identical with ten-pin bowling).

The width of gutters is anywhere from 9 to 9 1/2 inches, but they are often deeper than the ones surrounding a tenpin lane that has a depth between 2 3/4 inches and 3 1/2 inches. Canada has some regular tenpin bowling alleys. They use the same dimensions as the five-pin version but with a different layout.

You may be asking yourself how many lane? This is a great question that your capricious mind has created! We will be covering the intricacies of the dimensions of a bowling lane.


Final Verdict:

So, we are at the end of today’s discussion! Bowling will be much enjoyable when you know how everything works! Already you’ve spent enough time learning how long is a bowling lane: bowling lane dimensions in the write-up.

When you know other aspects of bowling like lane arrows and approach dots clearly, then your knowledge will take your game to a higher level for sure! The more you learn about the game, the more you enjoy the game.

Still, if you’ve any confusion, then feel free to leave your queries below, and we will reach you out soon with the right answer. Till then, stay safe. Have a nice time with bowling!

How long is a bowling lane?

A standard bowling lane measures 60 feet from the foul line to headpin. The width of the lane is about 42 inches, with the gutters at the sides.

How far apart is each pin?

Each pin is 12 inches from its adjacent neighbor(s). This distance applies to any pair of pins that are aligned one directly behind the other. This includes the number 2 and 8 pins, the 3 and 9 pins, and the 1 and 5 pins.

How much space do you need for 2 bowling lanes?

Generally recommended a minimum of 100′ in length and 14′ in width for 2 bowling alley lanes.

How long in feet is a ten pin bowling lane?

The length of a regulation lane is 18.288m (60 feet) from the foul line to the centre of the headpin. The lane is 1.0668m (42 inches) wide but is measured in boards. There are 39 boards.

How much does a bowling lane cost?

The price is somewhere in the region of $120k new or $85k for used equipment. Don’t forget that there are many more affordable options. You will need to compromise on the size and complexity of the project and equipment to save money.

James Alston

Sound engineer is my profession and bowling is a hobby, sport, and my great passion. Have plenty of memorable moments, experience, and frequently testing new bowling balls.

Sound engineer is my profession and bowling is a hobby, sport, and my great passion. Have plenty of memorable moments, experience, and frequently testing new bowling balls.

1 Comment
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