Rules of the game

   The game consists of 10 rounds which are called frames. In a single frame, each player is given two chances two knock down all the pins that are arranged at the end of the lane. In a 10 pin bowling game, there are total 10 pins. At the end of the game, the final score is calculated while taking all 10 frames into consideration.


The player starts the game by bowling the ball as the first chance of a single frame. If in a single chance, he successfully knocks down all ten pins, it is called a strike and the frame is completed. After the first ball, if still there are some pins which were not knocked down, a second chance is given to the player. Those pins which are knocked down first are counted and removed.


Once the knocked down pins are removed, the player rolls the ball for the second time and if he successfully knocks down all the pins in the second chance, it is called a spare. If there are multiple players scheduled on the lane, then the game passes to the next player until all players have finished bowling.

The ten pins are automatically arranged by a machine in an equilateral triangle shape at the end of the lane. Each pin is 30cm apart from the other. The distance is measured from center to center. The pins are numbered based on their position and the pin at the first position is called the head pin. The numbering goes on backward in right direction.

Pin Scatter

Because of large spacing among the balls as well as the small size of the ball, it is impossible to knock down all pins by means of contacting with the ball. So players choose different tactics in their shots which would result in a chain reaction among the pins making all of them fall down.

  • For a right-handed bowler, if the ball contacts just the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 9th pin, chain reaction occurs and it may knock down all pins.

  • For left-handed bowler, pins at 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th positions are ideal for a complete knock down.

The process of each pins falling down because of a chain reaction is also called pin scatter.


Brooklyn is a special kind of strike in which a player obtains a strike by hitting the pins in the opposite pocket from which he/she has thrown the ball. In case of right-handed bowler, Brooklyn occurs when the ball crosses over to 1-2 pocket and in case of lefthanded bowler the ball crosses 1-3 pocket This strike is also known as jersey side.

After the knock, if a pin is found to be wobbling or the automatic machine picks up a pin while it is still wobbling, it is considered as standing and no points are given because of that pin. Similarly, if a pin is moved from its position, it doesn’t change its designation.

Ball Releasing Tricks

Players opt for different tricks while releasing the ball on the lane in order to get a perfect strike. Mostly there are two types of releasing styles. Players can either release the ball straight or they can release the ball with a hook. Mostly new players try for straight techniques whereas experienced players opt for hooks. In case of straight releases, the right-handed players target for 1-3 pocket, whereas the left-handed players target for 1-2 pocket which is ideal for a chain reaction among the pins. In case of hook, the ball first travels straight but gradually it turns towards the opposite pocket. Players use different techniques to hook a ball.

There are mostly two ways to produce a hook. In the first way, players first let go of their thumb and then their middle finger and ring finger simultaneously while releasing the ball on the lane. This gives the ball the required spin that is needed for a perfect hook.

In case of a right-handed player, the perfect time to let go off the thumb is at 10 o’ clock position. That means while moving his hand at similar to 12 to 10 position of a clock, he needs to release the ball for a perfect hook. For a left-handed bowler, the ideal position is 2 o’ clock.

From players to players, techniques and positioning of thumb to get a hook varies. The second way to generate a hook is to hold the ball without any thumb in the thumb hole. In this case, bowlers usually use two of their fingers to generate a hook.

Researches show that ideal shots enter into the pin pockets at an angle of 6 degree. So players usually throw the ball at one side of the lane near the gutter. In some cases, players use one of their hands to use their fingers, whereas the other hand is placed on the top of the ball in order to release it in the form of a shovel-pitch from the side.

Granny Style

In case of extremely young or physically handicapped players, they are allowed to hold the ball in two hands and swing it forward in between their legs. Usually in this kind of release style, players have to release the ball close to the foul line. This is also called granny style.

Presently the shovel style hook release is gaining more popularity among the players because of more revolutions as well as speed it generates to knock down the pins.

Bounce Pass

Another technique is called bounce pass where players throw the ball from their chest towards the pins. This style is prohibited by many bowling communities at it causes damages to both the lane as well as pins.

Backup Style

Another style of bowling is called backup style where bowlers flick their wrist either clockwise (for right-handed) or anti clockwise (for left-handed) direction. This is very much similar to hook release where the ball moves in a curved path rather than in a straight line. A right-handed backup follows a left-hander conventional path, whereas a left-handed backup follows a right-handed conventional path. It is a trick which is harder for newcomers to learn. It can also cause injuries to wrist areas in case of heavier balls.


Typically, a bowling ball rolls vertically. If the thumb and the finger holes are drilled at proper places, the ball hooks perfectly. In Asian countries, where the oil conditions are difficult and the lane maintenance is very poor, it’s really hard to hook the ball on the lane. In those places, spinner UFO releases are more popular.

In case of spinner release, a ball will always slide on the lane instead of rolling vertically regardless of the oil conditions of the lane. The ball mostly takes an unconventional path through the pins creating a domino effect to knock down the pins which is quite rare in conventional releases.

Spinner release is performed by rotating the ball counter clock wise until the hand is on the top of the ball; two fingers are at 12 o’ clock position and the thumb at 6 o’ clock position. While releasing the ball, all fingers come out of the ball simultaneously. Spinning is harder to master and if not performed correctly might cause injury. Players from Taiwan and Hong Kong mostly follow this type of release.

Ten-Pin Bowling - Scoring

In case of knocking down pins, a player scores one point for every knocked-down pin. As there are two chances in a single frame, the combined score of both the chances are the final score of that frame. In case, a player fails to knock down all ten pins even after the two chances of a frame, the frame is called an open frame.

If all the ten pins are knocked down in a single frame, bonuses are awarded to the player based on the number of chances taken by him to knock down all pins. If all ten pins are knocked down by the player in the first chance itself, it is considered as a strike. A strike is specified with a “X” symbol in the score sheet.


In case of a player scoring a strike, he gets 10 points for the knocked down pins plus whatever is scored in the next two balls as bonus point. In this way, the points scored in the next two frames of the strike are counted twice. The bowler gets a chance to play two extra balls in case of achieving a strike in the first ball of the 10th frame and one extra ball in case of scoring a spare in the second chance.

For example, if in the first frame the player hits a strike and in the second frame’s first chance he scores 5 and in the second chance of the same frame, he score 3, his total score for the first frame will be 10 + 5 + 3 = 18 and for the second frame, his score will be 5 + 3 = 8 thus making a total score of 18 + 8 = 26.


In case of two consecutive strikes in two consecutive frames, a player scores a double. In case of a double, the scoring of the player can be explained through an example. Suppose Frame 1 = 10 (Strike) and frame 2 = 10 (Strike), then in frame 3, if the player hits thee pins in the first chance and four pins in the second chance, the total will be calculated as follows.

  • Frame 1 Total = 10 + 10 + 3 = 23
  • Frame 2 Total = 10 + 3 + 4 = 17
  • Frame 3 Total = 3 + 4 = 7
  • Total score from 3 frames are 23 + 17 + 7 = 47


If a player scores three consecutive strikes in three frames, he scores a Turkey or Triple. In case of a turkey, the total scoring is explained below. Suppose Frame 1 = 10 (Strike), frame 2 = 10(Strike) and frame 3 = 10(Strike) then in frame 4 if the player hits thee pins in the first chance and four pins in the second chance. Then the totals will be −

  • Frame1 Total = 10 + 10 + 10 = 30
  • Frame2 Total = 10 + 10 + 3 = 23
  • Frame3 Total = 10 + 3 + 4 = 17
  • Frame4 Total = 3 + 4 = 7
  • Total score will be 30 + 23 + 17 + 7 = 77

Long Consecutive Strikes

The longer consecutive strikes are called by various names like Llama (4 consecutive), pack (6 consecutive) mostly by local languages. Six strikes in a row are referred as wild turkeys, whereas nine strikes in a row are referred as golden turkeys. A game with 12 strikes is rare and is called a perfect game. It is also referred as thanksgiving turkey.

Clean Game

clean game is a game in which a player shots at least one strike or spare in each frame. The maximum points that can be scored from a strike is 30. In case of the 10th frame, if the player scores a strike, he/she will be awarded two more chances. If he again scores two strikes, for that frame he will be awarded 30 points which is also called striking out.

In case of a spare, when the player knocks out all pins in the 2nd chance of a frame, the player will be awarded 10 points plus the points scored in the next chance as a bonus. For example, in the first chance of frame, a player hits six pins and in second chance he hits four pins, then he has scored a spare. Now in frame two if the player hits three pins in the first chance and four pins in the second chance, the totals will be −

  • Frame 1 total = 6 + 4 + 3 = 13
  • Frame 2 total = 3 + 4 = 7
  • The total score will be 13 + 7 = 20 for the two frames.

The maximum score that can be scored in a single game is 300 with 12 consecutive strikes which is also called a perfect game. In the bowling score machine, different symbols are shown for different instances. Here “X” stands for a strike, “/” stands for a spare. A – (dash) symbol signifies no pins were knocked down in that frame whereas F indicates a foul.

Ten-Pin Bowling - Rules


When a player crosses the foul line and touches the lane during the bowling, a foul is awarded to the player. In case of a foul, even if some pins are knocked down, those are not counted. A foul will be counted as a ball with zero score. If the player knocks down all pins in the second chance after the foul, it will be considered as a spare.

If less than 10 pins are knocked down in the second chance after a foul, it will be considered as an error. In case of a player scoring a foul in the second chance of a frame, only the score that has been scored in the first chance will be considered as the total score for that specific frame.

If a player scores a foul in the first chance of the 10th frame and then knocks down all 10 pins in the second chance, it will be considered as a spare and he/she will be given a third chance to play. The spare will be calculated from the last two balls. In case of a foul in the third ball of the 10th frame, only the scores of the first two balls of the 10th frame will be considered while totalling the score.

Based on the game rules, no appeal is allowed once the automatic machine signals for a foul or the judge declares a foul. If the automatic machine stops working, a human judge will be appointed by the officials to check the fouls. In league games, opponent captains can act as a judge or can appoint anyone else to check the fouls.

Dead Ball

In case of a dead ball, the chance is not counted and the player is given another chance to bowl. Cases where a ball is considered dead are −

  • While delivering the ball, if the player notices that some of the pins are missing from the set-up.

  • If a human pin setter interferes and removes any of the pins before player has rolled the ball or before the ball reaches the pins.

  • If a player bowls on the wrong lane out of turn.

  • If a player gets interfered with any pinsetter, moving objects or by any spectator before the rolling or during the delivery, he can ask for a re-spot of the pins.

  • When the ball comes in contact with any foreign obstacle.

  • While playing, a player has to follow some basic bowling etiquettes like stop lofting excessively on the lane and refraining from using abusive languages or obscene gestures during the game. Wet shoes are not allowed as it damages the playing area. Players should be ready before their approach and shouldn’t delay the game while getting the set-up.