Frequently Asked Questions

TBA’s Rules and Ethics Chairman will answer some of the most common myths about rules and their interpretations. Submit your question to [email protected]

Q: What is the definition of a league?
Q: League Constitutions – what should be included?
Q: League Committees – why are they important?
Q: What is the correct procedure on establishing averages?
Q: Tournament Accreditation – why do we need it?
Q: Do you have to wear bowling shoes whilst playing?
Q: How do I choose my shoes?
Q: Can a bowler bowl one handed for one shot, then two handed for the second, or vice-versa?

Rule Book

The TBA Rule Book is available to download from our RULES page here.

Have a question or doubt about bowling rules?  
Submit your question to [email protected].

How to Score

A game consists of 10 frames. A maximum of two deliveries is made in each frame except in the 10th frame, when three deliveries are made if the player has scored a strike or a spare in that frame.

A strike is scored when all the pins are knocked down by the first ball rolled in a frame. It is marked with an X.  Because a strike earns 10 pins plus a bonus of all the pins knocked down by the next two balls, no figure is entered until the next two balls are rolled. A strike in the 10th frame earns two extra rolls.

A spare is scored when all pins are knocked down with two deliveries. It is marked with a /.  Because a spare earns 10 pins plus a bonus of all the pins knocked down by the next single ball, no score is entered until the first ball of the next frame is rolled.  A spare in the 10th frame earns one extra roll.

Open Frame
An open frame occurs when there are pins left standing after two balls. There is no penalty for an open frame, other than that of failing to gain the bonuses for a strike or a spare. When an open frame is made simply add those pins knocked down to the total in the previous frame.

Bowling Ball Selection

A good comfortable ball makes your game much more enjoyable and enables you to get the most out of the sport of tenpin bowling.

Select a weight which is comfortable for you.  Finding a weight that is not too heavy but also not too light is important for maximising your score.  

A weight and age guide to get you started – 
Juniors 6 and under should use 6lb balls
Juniors 7 to 10 yrs olds should use 8-10lb balls
Juniors aged 11 to 14 years should use 9-12lb balls
Try a ball in the 10- to 14-pound range for a woman
Try a ball between 14 and 16 pounds for a man. 

Be aware of any pain you experience during or after bowling. Excessive pain in your wrist or elbow can be a sign that the bowling ball is too heavy for you.  Shoulder pain can actually be a sign of both.  If your shoulder is hurting, it could be because you’re overthrowing your bowling ball due to it being too light for you.

Some Bowling Terms Explained

Strike: When all 10 pins are knocked down with one ball.  You get 10 pins plus the total pins scored from your next 2 deliveries. 
Spare: All 10 pins are knocked down with 2 consecutive balls.  You get 10 pins plus the total pins scored on the next ball you deliver.
Game: A game consists of 10 frames per person. 
Frame: A frame consists of up to two deliveries.  If you bowl a strike there is only one delivery per frame.  However if you leave pins remaining after the first ball, a frame consists of two deliveries.  However the 10th frame consists of up to 3 deliveries if you should either bowl a strike on your first delivery or make a spare. 
Foul Line: This is the black line at the start of the lane.  It separates the approach (where the bowler physically delivers the ball) from the lane where the balls travels on its way to the pin deck.   
Foul: You will receive a foul (and no score for that delivery) if you step over the foul line in league or tournament play.  Not only that, it is extremely dangerous to cross the foul line and step onto the lane which is slippery. 
A Double:Occurs when 2 strikes in a row are bowled.
A Turkey: Occurs when 3 strikes in a row are bowled. 
Gutter: This is the section either side of the lane where the ball ends up should it come off the lane.  No pinfall is obtained if the ball goes into the gutter.

Bowling in your state