Top 10 Rules Of Bowling

Bowling is a fun and entertaining sport that consists of rolling a heavy, ceramic ball down a lane with the ultimate goal of knocking down as many pins as possible. Tenpins is the most common form of bowling that is found in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Latin America. Below we will cover the most important rules of bowling.

What are the most important rules of bowling?

  1. Release the ball from behind the foul line.
  2. Cannot cross the foul line.
  3. The ball cannot come out of the gutter.
  4. The ball cannot be altered during the game.
  5. The maximum score is 300.
  6. Two balls per frame (usually).
  7. Proper attire is required.
  8. Wait for the bowler on your right
  9. Limit swearing
  10. Be ready

1. Release the ball from behind the foul line

When bowling, the bowler must release the ball from behind the foul line and allow the ball to roll over the line into the lane of play. This rule means that when casual bowlers throw the ball over the foul line, they are technically breaking the rules of the game. If this rule is broken the pins that are knocked down are discounted and no longer count towards the bowler's score. The ball also still counts but simply counts as a score of zero. This is a similar concept used in basketball to determine a two or three-pointer. If the ball is released from behind the line it counts as a three but if it is released with a foot on the line then it is no longer worth three points.

bowling foul line

2. Cannot cross the foul line

While playing in a bowling match the bowler may not cross the foul line at any time and anytime this happens, the bowl will be taken away. No matter what, if a player's foot even slightly touches the line, it is considered a fault and the ball does not count. This is similar to how in basketball a player may not step over the line while taking a foul shot or how in soccer a player may not cross the line that is created by the ref during a free kick. The ball still counts but instead of counting for the amount of pins were knocked it counts as bowling a zero. Because of this, the bowler has to be extremely aware of where they are on the line and be cautious that they do not stop on the foul line when they bowl.


3. The ball cannot come out of the gutter

Rarely during bowling a ball may be rolled in the gutter and bounces out in order to knock down some pins almost miraculously. Even though most people when playing recreationally will see this as a miracle from the bowling gods but it is actually against the rules and the pins do not count that got knocked over by the ball after it jumped out of the gutter. This is because the gutter is considered out of bounds and once the ball is out of bounds it cannot come back in. The ball no longer counts and whatever pins that get knocked over are put back up. Even though very rare, it is a good thing that a rule was created concerning this situation because without these rules, there may have been instances where people would have to figure out for themselves.

bowling gutter

4. The ball cannot be altered during the game

During any bowling match, a bowler may not alter their ball in any way but can however change it before and after each game. This is to ensure that bowler's cannot cheat and use substances that may alter the ball to help the bowler in any way. Sometimes bowlers like to rub their bowling balls in order to make it shiny and smooth on one side and rough on the other in order to make it spin better. Even though this may help all bowlers if they were allowed to oil up their bowling balls during the match, it is not allowed as it may give some bowlers an advantage over others which would not be fair at all. Any alterations to bowling balls must be done before the match starts or the bowler may be disqualified if the match is competitive.

bowling ball

5. The maximum score is 300

During any given bowling match a player can only achieve a maximum score of 300 but cannot score any more. This can be done by scoring the maximum 30 points on each of the ten frames that there are in a round of bowling. Scoring 300, or getting a perfect game includes a bowler getting a strike on each of the first nine frames as well as getting three strikes within the tenth frame. In total, a player would have to bowl 12 strikes during a game in order to be perfect. This is the most coveted thing that a bowler can accomplish at it is probably one of the hardest things to do in all of sports. There is no way to possibly achieve a score higher than 300 in the game of tenpin as explained in the rule book of bowling.

bowling perfect score

6. Two balls per frame (usually)

Other than in the tenth frame of a bowling match, a bowler may only have a maximum of two balls per frame. Obviously if a bowler is able to achieve a strike on the first ball of a frame, they will only have one ball that frame but no matter what, bowlers can only have two balls per frame. This rule does not apply to the tenth frame which has its own rules applied to it. These rules that are used on the tenth frame alone allows bowler to get up to three balls bowled. This can only be done if the bowler can knock down ten pins within their first two balls. Bowlers are not allowed more balls than two in each frame as the mechanics behind the lane know that two balls is the maximum that a particular player can have.

7. Proper attire is required

At a bowling alley, players must wear shoes that fit the description of the shoes required to play the game. This is why at every bowling alley they force you to rent shoes in order to play. Bowling in regular sneakers can ruin the wooden lanes so bowling alleys usually require that bowlers either rent bowling shoes or bring their own. Usually in professional and competitive bowling, bowlers will have a different type of shoe on their left and right foot. One shoe will be more slippery while the other one will have a rubber sole in order to help the bowlers slide and also break easily. The shoes side will be chosen depending on the hand that the bowler uses. For example, a right handed bowler would but the slippery shoe on their left foot while putting the 'breaking' shoe on the right foot.

bowling equipment and gear

8. Wait for the bowler on your right

In bowling, it is proper etiquette to allow the bowler to the right to bowl first if two people are bowling at one time. This is only applied if two bowlers walk up to the lane together and are about to bowl at the same exact timeThis is in place in order to allow bowlers to take their time while bowling and not feel as if they are being rushed. Also, if two people are bowling at once, one person may become distracted as the other person is going which might harm their own bowl. This is not technically a rule in the rulebook for the game of bowling but it is just a general etiquette rule that bowlers should keep in mind while going through games. Some people get angry when people do not follow this rule because they like to remain focused while bowling and this would be an unnecessary distraction to the people bowling.

9. Limit swearing

A bowling alley is supposed to be a place of calmness and relative silence other than bowling balls rolling down the lanes and striking pins. That being said, people should refrain from getting angry or lashing out after a poor performance. This includes, yelling, screaming, swearing, or throwing anything around the bowling alley. Along with being a calming place the bowling alley is also a place where people go to practice as well as bring children to have fun. Since there could always be children around it is best to try to control your temper and control your anger after a bad bowl or game. Many bowling alleys will not accept people making a big scene like swearing and in many instances will ask bowlers to leave if they are distracting and not following the proper bowler etiquette. Alleys have the right to kick anyone out if they feel like certain people are not setting the proper example on the alley.

10. Be ready

Bowlers should always be ready to bowl whenever it is their turn in order to make the games go quicker. Players should always be ready when it is their turn in order to follow the proper bowling etiquette of playing in a timely manner. As long as there are people waiting behind you it is only fair to go at a nice pace and allow everyone the time that they need to bowl. This is similar to how people like to play recreational golf called 'ready golf'. This applies in golf that as long as you are ready to hit, you can hit your ball in order to make the game move faster. In bowling if the ball you want to use is available and the pins are set and ready to be hit, players should bowl. Bowling alleys like to changeover the lanes often in order to make the most business so they usually encourage their players to finish their games so that other people can hop on.