Bowling Team Positions


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

Order of Players

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.

Position Roles and Responsibilities

The first bowler is responsible for getting his team started with good momentum and scores.

The second and third bowlers are generally a bowling team’s weakest members. It is expected for them to make the most mistakes over the course of the game.

The fourth bowler is responsible for continuing the team’s success or making up for the mishaps of the previous three bowlers.

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.