Bowling On Wrong Lane Rules

Bowling On Wrong Lane Rules

Bowling is a sport with unique rules that requires absolute focus and dedication from its players. Oftentimes multiple lanes are used during competitive play, and the lanes are switched between players and teams. What happens if a ball is bowled in the wrong lane? Keep reading to find out.

Bowling Wrong Lane Rules

Generally speaking, in tournament or league play, if a bowler bowls down the incorrect lane, a dead ball will be called. The act itself is technically a foul, but it has no score penalty or negative implication associated with it. A dead ball simply means that whatever pins were knocked over do not count, and the player must re-deliver the bowling ball down the correct lane. It acts as an interruption of play so that the correct lane and a correct score may be assessed. The calling of a dead ball, however, may change based on the layout of the tournament, or if the foul occurs during a team event.

Wrong Lane in Singles Tournaments

In the case of a wrong lane infraction in a singles tournament, the normal course of action is to have the player finish the current frame in the lane they started bowling in. The points recorded only count if they were legal pinfalls. A legal pinfall is described as anytime a pin is knocked down, or off the playing surface, by the bowling ball. Any time the pin is moved or knocked over by a player, pinsetter, or a rebounding ball (or is not completely knocked over), the pins are not counted, and must be reset exactly as they were before the ball was delivered. 

The finishing of a frame only occurs if a strike is not recorded. If a singles player bowls a strike in the incorrect lane during tournament play, the rules state that the ball is to be declared dead and that the player must re-deliver the frame down the correct lane.

Wrong Lane in Singles Match

In the event that a bowler delivers down the wrong lane in a normal singles competition, the rules are similar to those of tournament play. A bowler will be allowed to finish their frame on the incorrect lane, with the exception of when a strike is recorded. In that case, the player is subsequently moved to the correct lane, a dead ball is called, and the bowler must redo the frame in the correct lane.

The major difference between tournament and match play in terms of the rules comes with the enforcement of the dead ball. In order for a dead ball or re-bowl to be issued in match play, the infraction must be recorded before an opponent starts a frame. If the error is noted after an opponent has started to deliver the ball, then whatever score was recorded by the infringing player stands as scored. This differs from tournament play, where the infraction is automatically recorded and dealt with accordingly in real-time as it occurs.

Wrong Lane in Team Events

In the case of a team event or team tournament, a dead ball is called when one player from a team bowls in the wrong lane, or when a player from both competing teams bowl in the wrong lane. There are some exceptions to this general rule. A dead ball is not ruled when two players from the same team are found to have bowled in the wrong lane. In this circumstance, as long as all pinfalls recorded were legal, and no fouls were committed,  then the score recorded by the team producing the infraction is counted as it was bowled.

How Do Players Deliver Down the Wrong Lane?

Bowlers can be found using the wrong lane because most tournaments operate by using multiple lanes during tournament play. While casual bowling normally uses one lane for a group or party, professional and semi-professional bowling tournaments use multiple lanes per team during play to ensure a competitive game. Much like how every hole on a golf course isn't groomed to the same level as other holes, some bowling lanes are not as smooth or well-oiled as others in the same alley. The lanes being switched are normally directly next to each other. By using multiple lanes, bowling during tournaments is kept competitive and requires the absolute focus of its bowlers. 

During the course of a tournament, in both singles and team play, lanes are frequently switched between teams or between players. Due to this, it is sometimes difficult for bowlers to keep track of which lane they should be using. The result of this confusion is that, occasionally, a bowling ball is delivered down a lane at the incorrect time or incorrect frame.