Understanding the Bowling Scoreboard

Bowling is an exciting game to play whether you’re just bowling rounds with friends or trying to win a competition. While many of us understand how to bowl, the scoreboard is a whole other story. Scoring the most points is the goal of the game but how are the points totaled and why are there X’s and dashes on the screen? We prepare you for the game by explaining how the scoreboard works.

Bowling Rules

To begin to understand how scores work, you need to understand how bowling works. This part is straightforward with each person getting two turns to bowl during each frame. The only exception to this is during the tenth frame or last frame where players only get one turn to bowl unless they are able to knock all the pins down on their first try. Those that score a strike during the tenth frame then get additional throws to earn more points.

Scoring Rules

The maximum number of points you can earn in a game of bowling is 300 which is also known as a “perfect game” consisting of 12 strikes. When you are going through each turn, you receive a point for each pin that you knock over with your bowling ball. Turns that have a strike or a spare result in bonus points. Here’s what to know:

Strike- a strike is when you knock down all 10 pins during the first shot and is indicated on the scoreboard using an “X”. This leads to 10 points plus the sum of points in your next turn. For example, if you bowl a strike on the first turn and you knock over 6 pins in your second turn, the points from your first turn would be 10 + 6 and your second turn would be 6 leading to 22 total points earned.

Spare- a spare is when you knock down all 10 pins during both shots and is indicated by a “/”. For spares, you receive 10 points plus the number of pins knocked down during your next roll. For example, if you bowl a spare and then you knock over 2 pins and then 3 pins in your next frame, you will add 10 + 2 to get your score for your spare.

Open frame- an open frame is when you don’t knock over all 10 pins during your turn. This is marked by writing down the number of pins bowled over during each turn.

Foul- a foul is when you step past the foul line during a turn and is marked using the letter “F”. You can still finish out your turn and bowl your second shot if you foul during your first roll.

Gutter ball- use a “-“to mark if your ball goes into the gutter or misses the pins for any other reason. This horizontal line shows that no pins were knocked over.

10th frame- during the tenth frame, you get two more shots if you score a strike and one more shot if it’s a spare. Otherwise, you receive points for the number of pins you’ve knocked over.

Scoring is easy once you’ve had a few tries to practice. Find a bowling alley to get the hang of it and get as close to 300 points as you can!

If you are looking for the perfect bowling alley, come check out the fun we offer at Stars & Strikes. We welcome bowlers of all levels. Get in touch with the location nearest you.