Years ago when you went to the lanes to bowl for fun, practice, or just being in a league, they only gave you a piece of paper with lines and a pencil to keep your score. Now they have computers that do it for you automatically. All you need to do is type in your name in to the computer and once you start bowling, the computer will keep track of the score. I am sure by now, you have a basic understanding of how the scoring works. If you don't, it's still important to learn how to score to be able to spot check and make sure the computer score is correct. Even though it's all computerized, it can make an error, and sometimes pins may fall from the machine and you will have to know how to make the correction in the computer.
There are TEN FRAMES to each game. When you knock all ten pins down on the first ball that counts as a “STRIKE” and is marked by the letter "X". Two strikes in a row is called a “DOUBLE”. Three strikes in a row is called a “TRIPLE” or “TURKEY”. The name is believed to have come from years ago. If someone got 3 strikes in a row in a tournament they would give out a turkey for a prize. Four strikes in a row is called a FOUR BAGGER or FOUR TIMER, Five strikes in a row is called a FIVE BAGGER, and six in a row a SIX BAGGER, etc. The person with a record of the most consecutive strikes thrown is Dan Gleiter and Tommy Gollick with 47 each!
The most strikes you can get in a single game is 12 which is a PERFECT GAME with a score of “300”. It is also sometimes referred to as a “Dinosaur” or “Dirty Dozen”. The person on record for the most 300 games bowled is “Ferro Williams” having bowled over 135 of them!! The most 300 games thrown in a row was done by Glenn Allison.
If you get a strike on the incorrect side (or in the 1-2 pocket area for Righty’s or 1-3 pocket for Lefty’s), it’s called a BROOKLYN STRIKE. If you throw what looked like a perfect strike but left a 7 or 10 pin, then you were “ROBBED”!
When you get a strike, you add those 10 pins to whatever you get down on the next TWO balls. Use the scoring sample below to follow how to score:
In your first frame you get a strike and then you get another strike in the second frame. Then in your third frame you get 8 pins down. You need to add the ten for the first strike, ten for the second strike, and the eight and you’d have a score of 28 in the first frame. Now you get eight pins down and you picked up those last two remaining pins on the second shot. That would be considered a “SPARE” which is designated by a slash /. You must add the 10 pins from the strike with the next two shots (8 + 2) which would give you a 48 in the 2nd frame.
In the 4th frame the scoring shows that you got 9 pins down on the first shot so you add that to the 10 pins total from the 3rd frame (19) and add that to the 48 giving you 67 in the 4th frame. You did not pick up the spare which is a MISS and marked by a slash " - " which is considered an "OPEN FRAME. So you would add 9 to the 67 giving you a total of 76 in the 4th frame.In the 5th frame, you crossed over the foul line which is considered to be a "FOUL". This is marked by the letter "F" and the pins you knocked down were not allowed to be counted. Then on your second shot you knocked down 8 pins. Just add the 8 to the 76 giving you an 84 in the 5th frame. In the 8th frame, you had a "SPLIT" which is indicated by a circle. Now that you have an idea of how the scoring works, you should be able to figure out the rest of the scoring with the above information.
Always try your best to get a good first ball, so you’ll get a strike or at least an 8 or 9 pin count. Then you'll have only one or two pin spare to pick up and you’ll always get a good pin count for that double or spare. If you get less than 5 pins on a spare, you’ll leave yourself a more difficult spare to pick up, and you could possibly chop or miss it completely. Before I got much better at bowling, I got a lot of 6’s and 7’s on my spares. If I had gotten 8’s or 9’s instead, my score would have been much higher and we might have won more games that had been very close.
If at any time you should throw the ball in the channel, it’s considered a GUTTERBALL. If the ball goes into the gutter first but pops out and hits any pins, they will NOT be counted in the score.
If after you throw your first ball and you’re left with a spare that has a space between the pins and the head pin (1 pin) is NOT there, as you know is called a“SPLIT” and is marked with the number of pins you knocked down with a circle around it.
When you get to the tenth frame of the game (last frame), if you should get a strike(as shown in the scoring sample above), you get to throw two extra shots as a BONUS.
If you should get a spare in the tenth frame, you get to throw one extra bonus shot. When bowling first started, you were allowed three tries to knock down all ten pins, but many people were able to do this too easily, so to make it more
challenging, they shortened it to only two tries.
In league play, always try your best to get the most pin count on your spares. Let’s say for example that your team and the opposing team are tied up in the tenth frame. The anchor man (the team member who goes last) gets a split with 3 remaining pins, but tries to make the split for a sure win but only gets one of them instead of trying to get the two easier ones, and the guy on the other team also gets a split in the tenth frame but picks up his two pins. Your team will lose that game by one pin, so it’s always best to try and get the most pin count if the game is close, rather than trying to show off and end up losing a game by a pin or two!
A “DUTCH 200” GAME is when you get a strike, then a spare, then a strike, spare, etc. alternating through the entire game. Or you could start with a spare, then get a strike and alternate that way. If you get all spares and all 6’s on the spares, that will equal a game of 160. If you get all spares and 7’s, that equals a 170 game, all spares and 8’s a 180, and all spares and 9’s will be a score of 190.
If you miss a spare and have an open frame, then you must throw a Double (two strikes in a row) to make up for that open frame.
To bowl a 200 game, you need to get all your marks plus at least one double, and to get a 210 you need all your MARKS (strikes and spares) plus a triple (three strikes in a row). If you can’t get a triple but you get two doubles in your game, that is equal to a triple. To get a score of 220 you need to get all your marks plus a four bagger (four strikes in a row), and so on.
If you get all your marks and have no open frames, it is considered a “CLEAN” GAME.
At the end of a league bowling session, each game will count for 1 or 2 points depending on what your league votes on. The team that knocks down the most pins for the three games, will get an extra POINT or two for "TAKING THE WOOD".
The score that is the most rare to get in bowling is a 292. It’s not likely that you would only get 2 pins after throwing the first eleven strikes in a row.
Check put my ebook available on Amazon/Kindle--"Let's Rev Up Those Bowling Scores"!
Join me here next week when I’ll be discussing "What is Lift In Bowling and Turn"?
Good Luck and high scoring!!
Hello!! My name is Joanie. Although I'm not a professional bowler, I have loved the sport for more than 45 years, averaged over 200 for several seasons, and learned quite a bit with research and experience.