Bowling Rules: Common Situations Part 1

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Sometimes rules are viewed as unfair or unnecessary. Bowling rules are put in place to ensure competition is fair for all. In this video lesson Scott Pohl, owner of On Track Pro Shop, reviews and clears up four different common situations you may run into at your next competition.

Here is the USBC Rule Book that sanctions bowling leagues and tournaments.

Missing Frames

Being late for your league may be something you’ve experienced or have experienced in the form of waiting for the tardy bowler. It happens. From league to league, there likely are differing rules regarding this. On average, leagues tend to allow up to five frames of bowling before counting that score as a blind -10 pins.

Rules 1

If the bowler arrives before the first five frames are complete, that bowler is to make up those five frames immediately with no practice until caught up.

Tournament bowling is not as lenient. Here is the official rule from page 83 in the USBC Rule Book.

– Rule 322 – Players 322a. Tardy Players

1. Unless the tournament rules allow missed frames to be made up, a player or team missing one or more frames by not being present and ready to bowl in turn shall: a. Begin play with the score to count from the frame then being bowled. b. Not be credited with any pins for the frame(s) missed.
2. If a team refuses to start because a full lineup is not present, tournament management, at its discretion, can declare the game forfeited.
3. A bowler must bowl on the same lanes and at the same time his/her team bowls.

– 322b. Absentee/Vacancy Scores Adult tournaments:

No absentee or vacancy scores shall be permitted. Youth tournaments: Unless otherwise stated in the tournament rules:
1. An absentee score must be accepted in a prepaid four- or five-player team tournament if an individual does not show.
2. Only one absentee score per team may be used.
3. The absentee score for each game shall be the absent member’s entering average less 10 pins, plus handicap.

Foreign Object

If your bowling ball rolls over a foreign object on the lane, it is considered to be a “dead ball.”

Rules 2

When a “dead ball” situation arises, the delivery does not count and the correct pins need to be respotted and the player is allowed to rebowl that delivery. Check out page 15 in the USBC Rule Book for more information.

Changing a Bowling Ball’s Surface

You are allowed to change the bowling ball’s surface with sanding pads and/or polish. However, the rule revolves around when you can do it.

Rules 3

Before competition is the answer. This includes practice time, allowing you to alter the surface of your bowling ball. Once the lights are on and score is being kept, altering the surface of your bowling ball is illegal. Check out page 20 and 21 in the USBC Rule Book for more information.

For more on bowling rules, check out “Dry Towel Rule Change” and “Bowling Ball Weight Hole Changes.”