How to Score for Bowling in the Right Way


Bowling is one of the most popular sports in the United States of America. This game was started in Egypt in 3200 BC.

Since then, bowling scoring has improved significantly.

One of the improvements is on the facilities such as the electric scorekeeping.

Despite the use of automatic or electric scorekeeping, you still have to learn how bowling scoring works.

At least, you can recheck the score on the computerized scoring system with your calculation.


Basic Knowledge Bowling Scoring 

There are some important elements you should know about bowling.

This game consists of ten pins that arrange in a pyramid formation and a sixty-foot lane.

The idea of this game is knocking down the pins as many as you can by throwing a ball.

You only have two opportunities to knock down all the pins.

The throw means that you are releasing a bowling ball rolling down the lane.

You must do it without passing through the foul line.

The more you knock down the pins, the better.

Players also have to understand several terms in bowling.

Let say, there is the word frame in which it is a set of two throws.

A full bowling game consists of ten frames.

You can see the frame on the scorecard.

It is a square and used to show your points anytime you throw the bowling ball.

Frames are the two small boxes in the upper right corner.

You will also see the total points below the boxes.

Bowling uses two different types of frames which are an open and a closed frame.

An open frame is when you didn’t knock down all the pins after throwing two balls.

On the other hand, a closed frame depends on a strike or a spare.

The frame appears when you have successfully knocked down all pins in two throws.



You also have to learn the basic things about scoring before learning about how to score for bowling.

There are some symbols and terms you should understand in bowling scoring.

It may be a little bit confusing, especially for first-time players.

The more you practice bowling, the easier for you to check your score.

Symbols improve well from time to time. Now, bowling is much simpler and easy to understand and recognize.


Running Total

The running total is done by adding the current frame to the total of the frames previously.

Let say, you scored a 6 and a 2 in the current frame. It means you got 8 for this frame.

Previously, your running total was 12. It means the running total changes from 12 into 20 in which it is coming from 12 + 8.


Points or Numbers

A pin has one point. It means if you can knock down 5 pins in two throws, you get five points.

Strike: Symbolized with an X

The highest achievement in the bowling game is achieving a strike.

It means that you knock down all pins in the first throw. It is a challenging task and not all bowlers can do it.

A strike is symbolized with an X. When you can achieve a strike, you get ten points.

The score shown in the frame is your strike point along with from the next two throws.


The Example of a Strike Scoring

Let’s say, you get a strike. It means you will see an X on your score frame.

Then, you take your next two throws and you get a 6 and a 2.

It means you get 18 on the scoreboard. You achieve it from 10 + 6 + 2. A 10 is your strike score.

A 6 is your score in the first throw in the second frame. A 2 is the score in the second throw in the second frame.



How about if you get a strike and another strike? It’s amazing! It means you got a double!

So, how many scores you get from this achievement.

Let’s go back to the definition of a strike. The way to calculate a striking score is ten points plus the next two throws.

In the case that you get two strikes in a row, you have to see the pins you can knockdown in the following frame.

Let’s say, you only knock down a few pins.

Then, just add the point from the second strike along with the point from the first throw and then add to the first strike’s frame.


The Example of Double in Bowling

Let’s take a look at the example here to get a better understanding of a double score in bowling.

Let’s say, you got a strike in the first frame and second frame and 8 in the third frame.

So, the point on the first frame is 28 obtained from 10 + 10 + 8.

Let say, you got only 1 in the second throw of your third frame.

So, the total point in the second frame is 47 and it is obtained from 28 (the score from the first frame) + 10 (the strike point from the second frame) + 8 (point from the first throw of your third frame) + 1 (point from the second throw of your third frame).

The total point in the third frame is 56. You obtain the score from 47 (the total point from the second frame) + 8 (point from the first throw of your third frame) + 1 (point from the second throw of your third frame).



Turkey is something that most bowlers want. You may have a bit of good luck or skill if you achieve a turkey.

A turkey means that you get three strikes in a row.

So, how do you score a turkey in a bowling game? The scoring is a little bit more difficult than a double.

This is because you achieve three ten points.

You should add the third strike to the first and second frames. In this case, get ten points from the first strike.

Then, you add it with the strike from the second frame and third frame.

It means you will see 30 points in the first frame.

One thing you should understand is that 30 is the highest score in a bowling game in one frame.

In case you get another strike after a turkey it doesn’t include in the first frame.


The Example of Scoring Turkey in Bowling

Let’s take the double example above and continue it with a turkey. It means you have got 56 points now. Incredibly, you got a turkey on your next throws.

Then, you get a 7 and a 1. Your score in the first frame is 86. It obtains from 56 (point from a double) + 10 + 10 + 10 (a turkey).

In the second frame, you get 113. It obtains from 86 (point from the first frame) + 10 (point from the second strike) + 10 (point from the third strike) + 7 (point from the first throw of your fourth frame).

You get 131 in the third frame. It gets from 113 (point from the second frame) + 10 (point from the third strike) + 7 (point from the first throw of your fourth frame) + 1 (point from the second throw of your fourth frame).

You will get 139 points in the fourth frame.

You obtain it from 131 (point from the third frame) + 7 (point from the first throw of your fourth frame) + 1 (point from the second throw of your fourth frame).



You may be a talented bowler if you get a bagger. A bagger means that you get more than three strikes in a row.

Let’s say, you get four strikes. It means you achieve a four-bagger.

If you get five strikes in a row it means you get five-baggers and so on.

The highest achievement is a twelve-bagger in which you achieve 300 points or a perfect game.

How to score bagger in bowling? Just remember the basic strike scoring.

It means you get 30 points in all 10 frames.

Spares: Symbolized with a /

How about if you only knock down a few pins in your first throw and clear it up in the second throw?

In this case, you got a spare. Spare is symbolized with a / in the frame.

The scoring is similar to a strike scoring. Add 10 points just like when you got a strike.

The difference is that you only add the point from the first throw of your second frame.


The Example of A Spare Scoring in Bowling

For example, you got 5 on your first throw and knocked down the 5 pins left in the second throw.

Then, you got 6 points in the first throw and 2 points in the second throw of your second frame.

In this situation, your score is 16 in the first frame. You obtain it from 10 (a spare) + 6 (point from the first throw of your second frame).

Next, you got 24 in your second frame. It obtains from 16 (point from the first frame) + 6 (point from the first throw of your second frame) + 2 (point from the second throw of your second frame).

Gutter Balls or Misses: Symbolized with –

There is a case where you failed to knock down all the pins.

The ball even falls off the lane. In this case, you get a gutter ball.

A gutter ball is when your ball falls off the lane and you can’t knock down any pins at all.

You will not get points at all and you will see a – symbol on the scoreboard.

There is nothing to add to your new running total.

Fouls: Symbolized with an F

Sometimes, you will also make fouls. You get a foul when your body touches or passes through the foul line.

You achieve it when you lose your balance and your foot crosses over the line during a throw.

Commonly, you will fall to the ground.

The area in the foul lane is slippery due to the oil. It is a different case if your hand or arms passes through the foul lane when you are throwing a ball.

It is not considered a foul.

You will see an F on your scorecard anytime when the buzzer or light turns on because of your mistake.

You will not get any points because it is a foul throwing.

After that, the rack is reset to the full 10 pins. If you do a foul on your last through it means your turn is ended.



Splits will not increase or decrease your points. A split is a condition where there are remaining pins left in a formation that is hard to knock down them all in one throw.

The most common split is the goal post. In this condition, you have to hit one of the pins and let the pin knock down the rest of the pins.

You should have a specific skill to do the goal post.


The Tenth Frame

Don’t get confused with an extra box in the frame. This box is used when you got a strike or spare in your tenth frame.

It is an additional square because you need two more throws to achieve a strike and another throw to get a spare.



There is a term for the average in bowling. You know your average by playing at least three bowling games in a row.

Then, calculate all the totals and divide the final total by three.

The higher the average, the better. It needs more experiences and practices to achieve a high average.

A professional bowler often has averaged in the 200’s whereas a beginner may achieve average around 90 points or even below that.


The Perfect Game

All professional bowlers want to get the Perfect Game at least once in their bowling careers.

The Perfect Game is when you got strikes on your ten frames.

It means you obtain 300 points. Indeed, it is the hardest thing you can get to a bowling game.



Now, you know how to score for bowling. It may be a little bit confusing at first.

It is better to play a bowling game and practice the scoring scheme.

The more you practice, the faster you calculate the score.