More Sportsbowling101articlesbasicsequipment listhistorylane componentsleagueslingoscoring rulessplitstancesstatsstrategiesteam positionsfouls
  1. bowling
  2. team positions

Bowling Team Positions

Table of Contents


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.


What is a Bowling "Lineup"?

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).


  • First Position - the "table setter" for the team, usually a decent bowler that can be relied upon to start the team off on a solid foot.
  • Second Position - generally the least experienced bowler on the team, as there are three remaining teammates to pick up the slack should the bowler fail to roll a good shot.
  • Third Position - a bowler that is provided plenty of room for error similar to the second positions, but shows the potential for drastic improvement as the season progresses.
  • Fourth Position - the "setup man" for the team, often an experienced bowler that can be relied upon to consistently knock down all of the pins in either the first or second shot
  • Fifth Position - also known as the "anchor," the fifth bowler is the team's best player and often posts a great score even when faced with a pressure situation

Constructing an Effective Lineup

Lineup OrderAverage Score
First 3rd Highest
Third4th Highest
Fourth2nd Highest

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.


Bowling Articles