What Are the Actual Rules of Bowling, Anyways?

Most people have memories of going to the bowling alley as kids (or even adults) and enjoying a couple of rounds of bowling with family and friends We’d switch out our shoes for a special pair made just for bowling, walk around picking out our ball of choice, and take our best shots at knocking down pins. Many few people are taught the actual rules of bowling. We’re here to break it down for you before you head into your next game.


This one is pretty simple. Everyone knows that you are trying to knock down as many pins as you can with one ball. This all goes into a scoring system that counts points as each pin is knocked over. Get a “strike” by clearing the pins in one shot or a “spare” by clearing the pins in one turn and you score additional points. A single game has 12 opportunities to get a strike and you are able to earn a maximum of 300 points. Those who do so can be proud to say that they have played a perfect game of bowling.


Bowling is set up with ten frames. One frame is one turn a player has. Within each frame or turn the player has two chances to knock down as many pins as they can with their bowling ball. There are a couple of rules in place that can affect a team’s score.

  • The foul line is located at the very beginning of the lane. This is a line that cannot be crossed by bowlers during their turn. Pins that get knocked down during a turn where a player steps over the foul line do not count.
  • Bumpers are usually not allowed especially for a competitive game of bowling.
  • The gutter is considered out of bounds. Balls that roll into the gutter and manage to bounce back and knock over pins do not get any points.
  • Bowling shoes must be worn because these are specifically designed for the wooden lanes and prevent damage.


There are also steps bowlers can take to be polite to others during a game. This helps the games run smoother and also gives bowlers their space to complete their turn. For example, wait for those around you to bowl before taking a turn. If you step up to your lane at the same time as someone next to you, let the person to your right go first. This allows them to stay focused and keeps them from feeling rushed to complete their turn.

It is also important to be aware and stay ready so that you can start as soon as it is your turn. This is efficient for bowling alleys because it allows for a quick turnaround that gives many groups a change to play. It is also polite to your teammates and other bowlers because they aren’t having to wait too long for their turn.

Bowling at Stars & Strikes

We offer premium bowling at Stars and Strikes and have everything you need for a great game from upscale lanes to advanced scoring. Check out our site today to reserve a lane!