Welcome to an overview of player positions in team bowling. We'll start by learning about bowling lineups and how a team seeks to maximize the talents of its players. Below is a picture of a standard five-person team.
Team bowling involves a group of players that compete on the same team against another grouping, with the team that achieves the highest cumulative score declared the winner of the match. While bowling teams can consist of anywhere from three to five players, the standard for competitive team bowling is five players. Teams try to make best use of each player's individual skill sets by creating a "lineup" that dictates the order in which players will take their turns (first, second, third, fourth or fifth).
The table above provides a simple outline of how five-person teams can create the most effective possible lineup and increase their chances of taking home a victory. The order in which each player will bowl is determined by the player's average score, a statistically calculated score that takes into account all of the player's past performances in order to arrive at a number that is indicative of the score the bowler can be expected to achieve on a night-to-night basis.
While the first bowler does not need to post a dazzling number, he generally has the third highest average score in order to get the team off to a decent start. The second bowler is usually the team's worst bowler (lowest average score) so that the rest of the lineup can pick up the slack should the second bowler perform poorly on any given frame. The same is true of the third bowler, who is allotted the fourth highest average score and also expected to make a few mistakes over the course of a match.
The heavy production begins with the fourth bowler, whose combination of experience and a strong track record will either continue the team's success or make up for the mishaps of the previous three bowlers. Finally, keeping in line with the mantra 'save the best for last,' the fifth bowler is the star of the team and is fully expected to end the frame on a high note by knocking down each of the pins with ease on the first shot. This is known as a "strike" and adds a large number of bonus points to the leadoff bowler's next two shots.