How Long is a Bowling Lane?

When you’re at the bowling alley, you probably see the lanes and think, How long is a bowling lane? Well, it depends on where you’re at and what league or tournament you’re watching. The standard length of an official ten-pin bowling lane is 60 feet, 6 inches. That doesn’t mean that your local alley will have those exact dimensions—some lanes are shorter than others to allow more people to bowl at once—but most are within 1 foot of this standard length.

What is the Bowling Lane?

A bowling lane consists of two parallel wooden strips with flat surfaces that help you roll your bowling ball down. The lane’s width is between 42 and 43 inches and it has oil applied to keep your ball rolling smoothly. It also contains wood gutters that direct your ball toward pins at both ends of the lane. The distance from where you stand at one end of a bowling lane to where you’d be standing if you bowled at the other end can vary by as much as 15 feet; however, professional lanes measure between 44 and 45 feet long. While lengths may differ based on style, they all contain similar characteristics to ensure consistent play regardless of location or affiliation.

Dimensions of the Bowling Ball Approach Area

This should be one of your first considerations when building a bowling lane. The approach area allows bowlers to comfortably and safely get to their ball, and it gives them ample space in which to deliver their throws. While some games allow balls that are very close together, others specify a precise minimum distance; you’ll want to check your game rules for specific details on how long your approach must be. A good standard approach area width is 8 feet, which should be adequate for most lanes. If you’re installing custom lanes or building lanes yourself (which we don’t recommend) you can make adjustments based on your needs.

Bowling Lane Sections

It all comes down to what kind of bowling you’re doing. In traditional ten-pin bowling, there are three sections of a lane: Headpin (40 feet), Pins 1-3 (20 feet), and Pins 4-10 (60 feet). In candlepin bowling, which is played primarily in New England and Canada, each section of a lane covers one pin—so lanes range from 30 to 90 feet in length. So, regardless of your preferred sport or region, it’s pretty much impossible to answer how long is a bowling lane? without specifying which game you’re talking about. And even if we narrow it down to just ten-pin bowling, there’s still a lot more to consider.

Approach Area

As you approach your lane, you’ll notice that it’s subtly different from other bowling lanes. You’ll still be able to read all of your upcoming statistics (score, strikes, and spares) like normal; however, there are only two arrows on either side of your pin indicator. These arrows represent how far apart each pin is from its neighbor. The closer these arrows are together, the tighter together your pins will be when you’re ready to throw. If you have any questions about how tightly spaced pins will be for your game, just ask an employee at The Edge—that’s what they’re there for!

Approach Dots

There are 10 total pins (sometimes called approach dots) on a bowling lane, with two dots behind each set of three pins. You don’t have to bowl over any of these pins to score points—you just have to hit them. The first four approach dots are worth two points each, and then you’ll get three points for hitting both sets of approach dots after that. What’s more: if you bowl a strike (i.e., you knock down all 10 pins in one turn), you get an extra five bonus points on top of your regular score! Since most teams play best-of-seven games, knowing how long is a bowling lane could be helpful information if you want to step up your game.


Although they are not as widespread as they once were, gutters are still an important part of your home’s exterior. Gutters collect excess water and send it away from your house to prevent it from leaking into your basement or rotting roof timbers. Even if you aren’t planning on making any upgrades, it can be a good idea to check and make sure that gutters are still working properly. Check for any obvious damage, such as missing sections or cracks in their supports, which can cause leaks. The size of gutters varies between different regions (in hot climates water evaporates more quickly) so it’s best to check with your local building code before replacing them entirely.

Pin Spots

When it comes to bowling, pins aren’t just a cute name. The three or five wooden pins you knock down at your local alley are key to scoring points, and each game starts with adjusting its position based on how many points you want to bowl. How long should they be? That depends on your league and game type. Here’s what you need to know


The bowling lane itself—the place you’ll be throwing your ball—is exactly 42 inches wide. For more casual bowlers, that might seem like plenty of room to get that high-scoring strike. But if you’re an aspiring pro or if you want to play some trick shots, it can be a bit restrictive. Luckily, there are ways around it

Aiming Arrows on a Bowling Lane

At most bowling alleys, you’re allowed only two arrows per frame of bowling. You must use both of your arrows on your first attempt to knock down as many pins as possible. If you pick up spare(s) with either arrow, then you lose that arrow and can’t shoot it again in that frame. When using automatic scoring equipment, after your first attempt has been recorded. Then

the system gives you a few seconds to place one more arrow anywhere on your lane and then automatically shoots them both at once at whatever pins remain standing after your initial effort. The process repeats until all ten frames have been bowled or until three consecutive strikes are achieved.

Bowling Lane Dimensions: Bowling Types

Bowling has long been played on long, narrow lanes. This shape has led to nicknames like a bowling alley and bowling lane. The official length of a bowling lane—for any type of bowling—is 42 feet in length and 4 feet 8 inches in width. However, it should be noted that there are multiple types of bowling games, each with its own set of rules. For example, some games may require an additional 2 feet on either side for ball returns and gutters; others may allow for 1-foot gaps between players when teams play singles matches.

Ten-Pin Bowling

A Ten-Pin Bowler’s Worst Nightmare! When you think of bowling, you probably envision a carefree guy or gal rolled up jeans, whooping it up with their friends and family after work. Or maybe it’s just something fun to do on your birthday. Perhaps you’re taking an office team-building workshop to learn a little bit more about each other, or getting ready for a company bowling night out at the local alley.

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