How Many Bowling Pins In A Game? Find Out Here

How many bowling pins do you need in a game? If you are a beginner in this sport, you have probably found different answers to this question. While bowling is not difficult, understanding its basics can be challenging.

The number of bowling pins depends on the game variation you are playing. Ten-pin, duck-pin, and candle-pin bowling use ten bowling pins. Five-pin and nine-pin games use five and nine pins, respectively.

If you are a beginner, stick around, as this article can help you understand the basics of bowling pins. 

How Many Bowling Pins Do You Need In A Game?

How many bowling pins do you need to use in a game? Ten-pin, duck-pin, and candle-pin – are the most common terms you will hear when talking about bowling and bowling pins. There are also terms like five-pin, nine-pin, and ten-pin games. By the name alone, it is clear that each game uses five, nine, and ten bowling pins, respectively. 

Let us discuss each game term to understand better how many bowling pins you need in a game.

Five-Pin Game

Thomas F. Ryan invented five-pin bowling in 1909. You can consider it a mini variation of the popular ten-pin bowling. The five-pin game uses five small pins and is popular in the bowling alleys of Canada. 

The bowling pins used for the five-pin game are smaller by 25 percent than those used in the ten-pin bowling. Thomas Ryan invented five-pin bowling as people were complaining about the heaviness of the pins used in the ten-pin game. (source)

Nine-Pin Game

As the name suggests, nine-pin bowling uses nine pins. To play this game, you need to form a team of six players who will compete with another six-man team. Every player will have two turns to strike either all of the pins or leave the red pin behind for a higher score. 

If the player knocks down all nine pins, their team will get nine points. If they can leave the red pin standing, the respective team will receive 12 points. 

Furthermore, nine-pin bowling first became popular in Europe. (source)

Ten-Pin Bowling

Ten-pin bowling, or simply bowling, is the most common game played worldwide. It became popular in the US even before the Civil War began. In a ten-pin game, two opposing players get two turns to knock down the most number of pins they can get out of the ten pins positioned in front. 

Apart from ten-pin bowling, candle-pin and duck-pin bowling also use ten pins. 

  • Candle-pin Bowling – This game uses ten pins arranged in a triangular position, similar to ten-pin bowling. However, the pins have a different design that weighs less than those used in other bowling variations. 
  • Duck-pin Bowling – Duck-pin bowling uses ten pins shorter than standard bowling pins. The pins are arranged triangularly. This game also has the same set of rules used for ten-pin bowling. However, some players find duck-pin bowling more challenging due to the pins’ lightness. (source)

How Many Types Of Bowling Pins Are There?

It is easy to assume that bowling pins are all the same. But suppose you have played several bowling variations. In that case, you will see that the bowling pins change depending on the type of bowling game you are playing. Nevertheless, all bowling pins are crucial for the game’s scoring system.

There are four types of bowling pins in total. These pins differ in size, weight, and shape. And while these changes may seem simple, the differences can make the game easier or more difficult. The type of pins used also determines a person’s bowling variation.


The most common type of bowling pins is the ten-pins. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) set the specifications for these bowling pins. They are 15 inches tall, with their widest point measuring 4.75 inches wide. Tenpins is also easy to recognize as they have two red stripes on their narrowest point, known as the neck. 

Additionally, ten-pins weigh 3.6 lbs or 1.5 kilograms, making them relatively challenging to knock down. (source)

Five Pins

As mentioned, five pins are 25 percent smaller than ten pins. The pin measures 12.5 inches high and 5 inches wide. Like ten pins, five have two red stripes on their neck. They are also lighter than ten-pins, weighing 2.45 lbs. 

These pins are smaller and lighter than the standard bowling pins. For this reason, they are easy to knock down and ideal for those starting to learn the sport. 


The best identifier for duckpins is their wide bottom part and thin top. They are also short, hence the name duckpins. 

Duckpins only stand 9.5 inches high, weigh 3.6 lbs, and have a single red stripe on the neck. While the diameter of duckpins makes them an easy target, their weight makes them difficult to knock over.


As the name suggests, candlepins have a look that resembles candles. These pins are 15.75 inches tall and 2.9 inches wide. Candlepins weigh 3.6 lbs, similar to ten-pins and duckpins.

Additionally, candlepins are a unique type of bowling pins. While they do not have a neck, they have a single red stripe in the middle. The top and bottom of these pins also taper off a little. (source)

The Takeaway

How many bowling pins do you need in a game? The answer to this question depends on what variation of bowling you are playing.

There are different types of bowling – ten-pin, nine-pin, and five-pin games, which use ten, nine, and five bowling pins, respectively. Duck-pin and candle-pin games also use ten bowling pins.

There are also different types of bowling pins used in every bowling variation.

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