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. Luckily, we are here to teach you about violations in bowling! The fouls in bowling include crossing the foul line, shot clock fouls, and illegal pinfalls.

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 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 Foul

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 Pinfalls

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.


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

If a bowler steps over or onto the foul line, and they actually throw the ball 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 tha throw will not count and play will move on to the next bowler.

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.