Types Of Fouls In Bowling

Bowling Penalties

While bowling is a relatively straightforward sport, there are a few ways in which you can find yourself in trouble for breaking simple rules. The most common example is a foul, which happens when a bowler crosses the foul line. Luckily, we are here to teach you about fouls in bowling!

Crossing the Foul Line

bowling crossing the foul line

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 pinfalls. 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.

Bowling Foul Types

These are the types of fouls that can be called in bowling:

  • Detected Fouls
  • Deliberate Fouls
  • Apparent Fouls

Detected Fouls

Detected fouls are those that are picked up by the automatic foul detecting device that is required to be present at sanctioned matches. If a player crosses the foul line, the device will automatically signal a foul. If an automatic detecting device is not available, a foul judge will be assigned from among the officials to watch the foul line and call all fouls. In league play, the opposing team captains may serve this role.

Deliberate Fouls

Deliberate fouls are committed when a bowler intentionally crosses the foul line to gain an advantage. If a judge determines a deliberate foul has been committed, the bowler will be scored zero for the frame and will not be allowed further deliveries within the frame.

Apparent Fouls

Apparent fouls are called when they are missed by the automatic system but are deemed apparent by nearby players or officials. The people that can call apparent fouls are any tournament official, the official scorer, both captains of either team, and any member of the opposing team.

Disputed Fouls

Sometimes, bowlers do not agree with the fouls that are called on them or their teammates. If there is any protest of a foul and the dispute cannot be resolved, a strict procedure is followed. According to Rule 10 of the USBC Playing Rules, the player accused of fouling will complete the frame and then roll a provisional ball at a full setup of pins. This only applies if the foul was called during the first ball of any frame or after the second ball in the 10th frame if the first ball was a strike. If the foul was called on a spare attempt or the third ball of the 10th frame, no provisional ball is given.


What happens if a bowler crosses the foul line as they bowl?

If a bowler steps over or onto the foul line and they bowl during this movement, a foul will be called. On their first throw, the bowl will count as a part of the frame, but none of the felled pins will count toward their point total. They will then continue on to their second bowl of the frame. If a player crosses the line on the second throw, the points from that throw will not count, and play will move on to the next bowler.

What is an illegal pinfall?

Illegal pinfall occurs when the ball comes into contact with the gutter, the rear cushion, or 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 is 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.

Why are shot clocks used in bowling?

Some bowling leagues use shot clocks to ensure that players bowl in a timely manner. Not only does this keep other players from having to wait too long for their next frame, but it also keeps the sport more interesting for those watching. However, shot clocks are not an official part of regulation bowling matches but are instead used more in recreational leagues.

What is a shot clock penalty in bowling?

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.