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Types Of Fouls In Bowling

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While bowling is a relatively straightforward sport, there are a few ways in which you can find yourself in trouble for breaking simple rules. Luckily, we are here to teach you about violations in bowling!



The foul line in bowling is a line that separates the lane from the approach. A foul in bowling occurs when the bowler crosses or makes any contact with the foul line or other parts of the lane during their bowl. For a foul to be assessed, the player must make a legal delivery. If the player crosses the foul line but does not lose contact with the ball, no foul is assessed and the player may continue with their turn.


When a player crosses the foul line, their delivery will count but they will receive a score of zero pin falls. If the foul occurs during the player's first bowl within the frame, they are still allowed their second bowl; if the foul occurs on the player's second bowl within the frame, then no pins will be scored for that throw and the game will move on as normal.

Shot Clock Violations

Certain levels of bowling use a shot clock to ensure that all bowlers take their turns in a timely manner. A bowler is given a specific amount of time to complete each bowl in the frame; the shot clock is usually 30 seconds but this can vary. In general, if the player does not release the ball before the shot clock sounds then that player's turn is voided. However, shot clock penalties can have different ramifications depending on the tournament, league, or level the bowler is playing at.

Illegal Pinfall

In certain circumstances, a player's delivery or the resulting pinfall can be deemed illegal. Illegal pinfall occurs when the ball comes into contact with the gutter, the rear cushion, other players, or leaves the lane before making contact with the pins. If the player commits a foul or the pins fall due to circumstances other than the ball making contact, then the pinfall is also illegal. The bowler can be entitled to redo their bowl if the illegal pinfall is deemed not their fault. If illegal pinfall happens as a result of the bowler, then the delivery counts but the player receives a score of zero pins for that turn.


Etiquette is an important aspect of bowling and it is necessary for players to understand some of bowling's unspoken rules in order to fit in at the bowling alley.

First and foremost, it is important to respect the players around you. This means behaving and speaking respectfully while bowling, keeping in mind you are most likely sharing the space with others. Take your turns in a timely manner, don't make others wait around. Delaying the game can result in a loss of your turn in casual games. Remember to not bowl simultaneously with a player in the lanes next to you, let the bowlers around you finish their throws before beginning yours to avoid distractions.

Secondly, respect the facilities and keep the lane, approach and equipment clean and undamaged. This means wearing bowling shoes and avoiding bringing food or drinks near the lane to ensure the oil on the lane isn't damaged. Damaging the lane or other equipment can lead to disqualification or delays in the game until repairs can be made.


Cheating is not welcomed in the sport of bowling. A few ways in which players attempt to cheat are fixing balls or other equipment to a player's advantage, purposefully impending another player's turn, and sandbagging. Sandbagging occurs when a player purposefully bowls poorly in order to receive a handicap that would help them to win future games. If a player uses a weighted ball or alters aspects of the lane such as the oil pattern or other equipment, that is considered cheating. Impeding other player's turns with verbal or physical actions will not only cause tension between bowlers, but can result in disqualification. Committing any of these offenses can lead to the player being disqualified from the game or even being banned from the alley entirely.


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