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Bowling Stats

The use of statistics in bowling has increased rapidly over the last few years with analytics, statistics, and math becoming the dominant force in the sports industry. Some of these statistics are simple, while others are very complex with long algorithms. We'll start with the basic statistics and work our way up to the complex ones.

Table of Contents


Basic Bowling Statistics

  • Score: This is the most basic of bowling statistics. Your score determines whether or not you win. The max score you can get is a 300. Most bowlers report their average score. The best bowlers average scores well into the 200 range, with many above 220.
  • Strikes: A strike is when you knock all the pins down on the first shot in a frame. Their point total is calculated by 10 plus the total of the next two shots.
  • Spares: A spare is when you knock all the pins down in two shots. Their point total is calculated by 10 plus the total of the next shot only.
  • Split: A split is when the headpin gets knocked down and there is a space of at least one pin between two of the pins in the back. No extra points are awarded for a split.
  • Average First Ball Pinfall: Looks at the average of pins knocked down in the first shot of the frame. The average many bowlers try to reach is about 9.2 pins.

Moderately Complex Statistics

  • Strike Percentage: This stat looks at how often a player has a strike. It can also be used to look at which frame tends to have more strikes.
  • Spare Percentage: This stat looks at how often a player has a spare. The average spare percentage can differ depending on the type of shot, with splits tending to have lower spare percentages.
  • Split Conversion Percentage: Similar to the spare percentage, but specifically for splits. The 4-6-7-9-10 split, known as the "Greek Church" is converted to a spare only .2% of the time.
  • Carry Percentage: This is the percentage of pins that are carried by the ball. Carrying is when a ball hits the pocket and in that shot manages to knock down some of the pins on either side.
  • Angle of Entry: This statistic measures the angle at which the bowling ball is released. The success of the shot may be attributed to the angle of entry. The optimal angle of entry for getting the bowling ball in the pocket is generally around six degrees, though it, of course, varies depending on the type of shot needed.
  • Double Strike Percentage: This looks at a bowler's ability to hit a strike the frame after hitting a strike. Bowlers who excel in this statistic tend to be very powerful and likely have a high carry percentage.
Bowling greek church split

Complex Statistics

  • Simplified Bowling Rating: Proposed by Joe Slowinski in 2003, this statistic was designed to compare all bowlers on an even field, similar to WAR in baseball. The statistic combines three statistics, with the formula being:
  • SBR=strike% + spare% + split conversion.
  • Power Rating: Another statistic from Slowinski, this adds up strike percentage, carry percentage, and double percentage.
  • Average Bowling Rating: The last statistic proposed by Slowinski, the ABR adds up power rating, spare percentage, and split conversion percentage.

Why are Bowling Statistics Important?

Bowling statistics are important because they help us to understand the sport and give us an idea of who the best players are. Sometimes simple statistics like average score and number of strikes do not give us an accurate representation of who the most skilled players are. For example, a player might have a high strike percentage, however, he is poor in split conversion percentage. His average score might be high, however, he may not be maximizing potential. His simplified bowling rating and average bowling rating would reflect that. By working on split conversion percentage, this theoretical bowler could potentially increase his score and become an even better player than before. Statistics also help the fans understand the game on a deeper level, allowing them to make better judgments on who the best players are. Teams and sponsorships use these statistics to help figure out which players will bring them the most success. And as bowling and statistics continue to grow, the future of this industry grows brighter.



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