Bowling Lineup Rules

Bowling Lineup Rules

In tournament bowling, it’s important for a team to have a certain amount of eligible players at the beginning of a match. Without the right amount of players, a game can’t proceed in the intended manner, so several bowling leagues and tournaments set specific rules on how many players must be present to begin a series. These rules also commonly include what to do if a player in a lineup is late, or if a team doesn’t have the right amount of players present at the beginning of a game. Read on to learn more about the lineup rules in bowling.

In professional bowling, a minimum legal lineup is usually defined as the smallest number of bowlers present for a team that is necessary for a game to take place. Due to the existence of rules such as substitutions and replacements, these counts are not necessarily indicating an amount of players on the team’s scheduled roster. Because there are several different sizes of bowling teams that participate in bowling tournaments, the definition of a legal lineup is different across events.

Team SizeMinimum Legal Lineup
Five playersThree or more players
Four playersTwo or more players
Three playersTwo or more players
Two playersOne player

In most leagues, if a team has substitutes present, they can be counted towards their minimum legal lineup. League rules cannot require that a team has a present legal lineup at the start of the game (or other designated time), given that teams always have until a selected frame of bowling to assemble a lineup.

If one or both teams competing in a game are unable to present a minimum legal lineup by the agreed-upon time and neither team requested to postpone the match, the game is forfeited. The main exception to this is in the case of an emergency, which has the power to prevent a forfeit from being declared. Emergencies are usually decided by the postponement committee or the league’s board of directors. A postponement committee is the group that a league appoints to handle decisions related to the rescheduling or delaying of league games; the board of directors is the group of players or individuals that have been chosen to lead the league and handle issues of importance across its functioning.

If the responsible party comes to the conclusion that an emergency was present and prevented the team from reaching the game on-time, the game will be rescheduled under the league’s standard procedure for postponements. In most cases, these decisions can be appealed to the board of directors.

Late Arrivals

In certain leagues, a player can be allowed to participate in a tournament game after arriving late, as long as they meet and follow a group of rules that determine how their late entrance will be handled in the final score. Most leagues will require that the late bowler follows three conditions in order to enter the game late.

  1. The player will enter the game with the amount of points equal to whatever their team had during the frame that was being played when they arrived.
  2. For each frame the bowler did not play in, they will receive one tenth of the absentee score. An absentee score is a figure used to even the score of a match when a player is absent from a game, but their team has presented a minimum legal lineup. This number is usually the absent member’s average, minus 10 pins.
  3. Usually, partial games will not go towards determining a late player’s average, unless their league bases averages of off frames played, not game scores.

Replacing Players

In most leagues, any player from any lineup can be replaced at any time during a game. If this is done, the player who is being substituted out may not return to play in the same game they were removed from. To calculate handicaps when a substitute enters a game, one tenth of the handicap score of each player involved in the switch will be applied to the final score of the game. A handicap score is an amount of pins removed from a game’s final score in order to account for score differences between players or teams.