The Scoring System

  Scoring a game of bowling has become somewhat of a lost art since the advent of Automatic Scoring.
Many people used to get quite confused by the way we add up a game and yet, like riding a bicycle, once learnt it is an easy process.

Games, Frames and Balls.
A game of bowling consists of ten frames.  In each frame you can have up to two attempts to knock down all ten pins.
If all ten are knocked over on the first attempt then this is called a STRIKE, shown as an X, if all the pins are knocked down after the second ball, then we refer to this as a SPARE shown as a / (right slash).
The number of pins knocked down, known as pinfall, counts as the points scored.  However, the scoring gets a little more complex when you bowl a strike of a spare.

After a strike we get a bonus, the next two balls rolled effectively count as double.   You get 10 for rolling a strike plus the total pinfall of your next two balls.
So if you were to bowl a strike followed by 7 and 2 your score would be 10 for the strike plus 7, plus 2 giving you 19 in the first frame.
The second frame, consisting of just the 7 and 2 would add 9 to the running total and the score in frame two would be 28.


A spare is very similar except the bonus is just the next single ball bowled.
In the third frame if you bowl a 9 spare followed by a 7 spare in the frame four, then your score pans out as like so, 28 plus 9 plus 1 plus the bonus of the next single ball 7 totalling 45.
We cannot add up frame four yet until we bowl another ball as the score will be 55 plus the next ball.

Because a strike counts the next two ball as a bonus if we follow one strike with another then we still have to wait for the next ball to be bowled.  Three strikes in a row will add 30 points for that frame.
In the tenth frame, if a spare or strike is bowled an extra ball or two are rolled in order to complete the score.
The maximum score for a game of bowling is 300.  This consists of twelve strikes in a row.
Frames one to ten plus two extra balls to complete the score.

Foul Play.
If a bowlers foot, or any part of their body, crosses the black foul line at the front of the lane then a foul is committed. The score for that ball is void.
If a foul is committed on the first ball of the frame then ten pins are reset and the second ball can be taken.
A foul is shown on the scoresheet as an F.

In the Gutter.
A ball rolling off the lane into the gutter counts as a miss or zero.
A miss is shown on the score sheet as a dash -.

A split is where two or more pins are left standing, (excluding the head pin), with a gap between them.
Bowling a split does not affect the score directly, it's just a lot harder to make the spare, so it is often highlighted on the score sheet with brackets or a box as a sort of excuse as to why you did not get the spare.

A typical Game ...

We have Scoresheets, specially designed for practise games, for you to print off.
Click here : printable Scoresheets


Top of page