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How Bowling Is Scored

In this modern era of automatic scorers recording open bowling scores, league scores, and tournament or special event scoring, it is surprising how many bowlers, including newcomers to the game, do not understand the principles of how bowling is scored. Our company,, wishes to point out in this article that the same bowling scoring system is used universally and we wish to demonstrate how a game is scored properly. We shall begin with a couple of simple scoring rules to help you understand how bowling is scored:

Strike - A strike is when all ten pins on your first delivery of a given frame are fallen. A strike earns 10 points plus the sum of your next two deliveries.

Spare - A spare is when all ten pins on two deliveries are fallen in a given frame. A spare earns ten points plus the sum of your next one delivery.

Open Frame - If all ten pins using both deliveries are not fallen, then the maximum score allocated per frame is 9 pins or fewer and you have what is know as an open frame. An open frame earns only the number of pins knocked down in a given frame for the two deliveries.

A "split" refers to a combination of pins left standing either wider apart then the diameter of a bowling ball or adjacent pins in the same row. A "split" occurs on the first ball delivery of any given frame which may or may not be converted as a spare and therefore becomes an open frame.

The 10th Frame - The 10th frame is the final frame of a game. If you roll a strike on the first delivery of the 10th frame, you receive two more deliveries. If you roll a spare on the first two deliveries of the 10th frame, you receive one more delivery. If you leave the 10th frame open after two deliveries, the game is completed and no additional deliveries are awarded. The score for the 10th frame is the total number of pins knocked down in the 10th frame.

Scoring References - A strike followed by a spare equals 20 points in a frame. A spare followed by a strike equals 20 points in a frame. The maximum score in one frame is 30 points and is achieved by delivering three consecutive strikes.

Now it is a good time for a six-frame example of how bowling is scored and recorded manually:

For a blank scoresheet to follow along or to make up your own for practice, click HERE!
Frame #1 - You deliver your bowling ball and 7 pins are fallen on your first delivery and then only 2 pins of the remaining 3 are fallen on your second delivery. Your frame is open and the score is 9. Simply mark 7 (at the left of the square box located in the upper right corner of the frame box) and then 2 in the frame box signifying a total of 9 pins score for the frame. Then mark 9 in the large portion of the frame box to complete the recording of your 1st frame score.

Frame #2 - You get a spare! Nice effort! Your score is 10 points plus the number of pins you knock down on the first delivery of the 3rd frame. Mark a spare slash mark (from the lower left corner to the upper right corner) in the small box in the upper corner of the 2nd frame box to signify your score is a spare for frame #2.

Frame #3 - Another open frame of 8 points with 6 pins being knocked down on the first delivery of frame 3. Record 16 points plus the total points from the 1st frame (9 points) in the 2nd frame box signifying a running total of 25 points in the 2nd frame. Then record an additional 8 points to close out the 3rd frame scoring bringing the running total in the 3rd frame to a score of 33 points.

Frame #4 - Strike! Congratulations! Mark an "X" in the small box in frame #4 and await your total pin-fall of your next two deliveries beginning with the first delivery in frame #5.

Frame #5 - Strike! Wow, a double, good job! Mark an "X" in the small box of frame #5 and await your next delivery to record the score into frame #4.

Frame #6 - You knock down 7 pins on your first delivery. Since you recorded strikes in 4th and 5th frames, you receive ten points for the strike in the 4th frame, 10 more points for the strike in the 5th frame, and 7 points for the first delivery in the 6th frame, a total of 27 points to be added to the running total recorded in the 3rd frame (33 points). You mark 60 points in the 4th frame score box and await your 2nd delivery in the 6th frame before your next recording of points. If your 2nd delivery in the 6th frame converts all 3 remaining pins left standing, then record a spare mark in the 6th frame and record 20 points more in the 5th frame box increasing your new running total to 80 points in the 5th frame with a spare working in the 6th frame. Your next recording of score will occur after the first delivery in the 7th frame. Follow this scoring procedure to complete any given game of bowling or to complete the same game.

Remember, when you arrive at the 10th frame, the score is the total number of pins knocked down. If you get a strike and a spare in the 10th frame as yet another example, you add a total of 20 points to the score recorded in the 9th frame and that will be your final game score. wishes to recommend that you have some fun and practice keeping score by completing the scoring of this sample game above or perhaps even begin a new sample game and record the score. You can create any result you choose. It is best to keep score yourself until you learn the scoring system.

Highly skilled players typically "strike out the game mentally" while awaiting their next turn to bowl so they can visualize the final score if they complete the game by successfully striking in the remainder of frames. This mental technique prepares a bowler in competition to understand how he or she fares against their given opponent or opponents.

By the way, if you bowl a game and use the automatic scorer at your local bowling center, pay attention to the scoring being recorded as you go through the frames and make an effort to understand the system of scoring. You always have the option of consulting an employee of the bowling center to make sure you understand the scoring system. Consider creating a mock score sheet to record the scores of each of the frames you bowl while you are bowling and compare results to the automatic scorer recording the same frame totals. As a relative beginner, understanding the system of scoring will help you in competition.

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