Basic Bowling Rules

If you want to learn bowling, you'll need to learn some basic bowling rules. Bowling is an easy sport for beginners to learn, especially because most lanes have computers that keep score automatically for you. But even in casual play, it's important to be aware of the basic rules of bowling.

  1. Bowling lane. A regulation bowling lane is 60 feet long (from the foul line to the first pin) and 42 inches wide. If a player steps on or over the foul line, he gets no score for that roll. The pins stand in four rows at the end of the lane, with one pin in the first row, two in the second, three in the third and four in the fourth.
  2. Pins. Regulation bowling pins are made out of hard maple and weigh between 3 pounds 6 ounces and 3 pounds 10 ounces. They must be fifteen inches high, 2 1/4 inches in diameter at the base and fifteen inches in circumference at the widest point.
  3. Ball. A bowling ball must weigh ten to sixteen pounds and be no larger than 27 inches in circumference. Most bowlers use balls with three holes, two for the middle two fingers and one for the thumb, so they might not know that basic bowling rules state that a ball may have only two holes.
  4. Shoes. Wearing proper footware is a very basic bowling rule. Sneakers can damage bowling lanes, so bowlers must wear special bowling shoes.
  5. Frames. A bowling game is made up of ten frames. A player rolls the ball down the lane; if he knocks down all the pins, he gets a strike, marked as an X. If not, the knocked down pins are removed and the player gets one more chance to hit the pins. If he knocks down all the pins on the second roll of he frame, he gets a spare, marked as a slash.
  6. Scoring. Knowing how to score is one of the basic rules of bowling. If the player doesn't bowl a strike or spare, her score for a frame is the number of pins she marks down; this is called an open frame. If she bowls a spare, the score for the frame is ten plus the number of pins knocked down on the next roll. For a strike, the score 10 plus the number of pins knocked down on the next two rolls.
  7. Final frame. If a player bowls a strike in the tenth frame, he gets two additional roll; for a spare, he gets one additional roll. The highest possible score in bowling is 300, which occurs when a player bowls twelve strikes in a row.
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