Bowling Rules (2)

In this section, we will go over the bowling rules covering shoes and game play.

Bowling Shoe Rules

First, let’s talk about the bowling rules that apply to shoes. Bowling shoes are specially made just for bowling. They have soles that are made for specific bowling needs, and bowling shoes differ for right-handed and left-handed bowlers.

A right-handed bowler wants to be able to slide on their left foot and stop with their right foot. Therefore, a right-hander’s left shoe will have a slippery sole made of either hard leather or vinyl, and their right shoe will have a rubber sole to help them stop before the foul line. A left-hander’s bowling shoes will be just the opposite: slippery on the right foot and rubber on the left.

Rules for Bowling Pin Arrangement


Bowling pins are always arranged at the end of the bowling lane, in a triangle that has 4 rows. The first row, closest to the bowler, has just one pin, called the head pin or 1-pin. There are 2 pins in the second row, 3 pins in the third row and 4 pins in the fourth row. The pins are not numbered although they may be called the 2-pin or 10-pin. A bowling pin’s number is dictated by its position in the triangle. See the bowling pin arrangement pictured below for how the numbers correspond with the pins.

Rules for Gutters


Every bowling lane is bordered by a gutter on the right side and a gutter in the left side. The gutter is a depression, around 9.5 inches wide, that catches the bowling ball if it rolls off the lane. A gutter ball falls into this depression and then rolls to the pit behind the lane without hitting any pins. No points are given when a ball goes into the gutter.

Rules for the Approach


The approach area is the space on the bowling lane between the foul line and the 2 sets of approach dots. It is 12 feet from the foul line to the first set of approach dots, and 15 feet from the foul line to the second set of approach dots. (See above diagram.)

Stepping over the foul line during a shot is against bowling rules and is called a foul. A foul counts as one shot, but any pins that were knocked down are put back in place and not counted toward the score.

Rules for Frames


There are 10 frames in a bowling game, and each player get 2 shots per frame. If all of the bowling pins are knocked down on the first shot, it is called a strike and that frame ends. When bowling pins are left standing after the first shot, the player gets a second shot. If the rest of the bowling pins are knocked down on the second shot, it is called a spare. If there are any pins left standing after both shots, it is called an open frame.