In almost all bowling centers, your bowling score is calculated automatically and shown on the display screen above each bowling lane. This is great for new bowlers who don’t know how to manually keep score, but eventually all bowlers should learn how to keep score for themselves. If only for the fun of it!
In order to keep your bowling score, you must know the basics of bowling. For starters, there are 10 frames in a game of bowling. Looking at the scoring display, you will see that each player has 10 boxes after their name. Each box represents 1 frame, and 1 frame represents 1 turn. During every turn each player gets 2 chances to knock down all 10 bowling pins.
When a bowler knocks down all 10 pins on the first shot, it is called a strike. Knocking down all 10 pins on the second shot results in a spare. When there are still pins left standing after both shots, it is called an open frame and the turn is over. When a player gets an open frame, they score points for the number of bowling pins that were knocked down during that turn. That number is placed in the box for that frame.
How to Count Your Spares and Strikes
A spare is represented by a slash – “/” – in the box for that frame. A spare scores 10 points for that frame, plus points for however many pins you knock down on your first shot in the next frame. Your score is not calculated after you get a spare, because you have to wait and see how many pins are knocked down in your next shot.
For example: A spare is scored in the first frame and the “/” is placed in the box for that frame. On the first shot of the second frame, 7 pins are knocked down. The score for the first frame will be 17 – 10 points for the spare plus 7 points for the pins you knocked down on the first shot of the next frame.
A strike is represented by an “X” in the box for that frame. Strikes also score 10 points, but now you get additional points for the pins you knock down on both shots in the next frame.
Using the same example, here is how to score when a strike is scored in the first frame: The “X” is placed in the box for that frame. On the next turn, 7 pins are knocked down in the first shot but the score is not calculated yet. On the second shot of that turn, 2 pins are knocked down. The score for the first frame will be 19 – 10 points for the strike plus 9 points for the pins you knocked down on your next two shots (7 in the first shot plus 2 in the second shot).
Your final bowling score is calculated by adding up the points from all 10 frames that you bowled with 1 exception that can occur in the last frame. When a spare is bowled in the 10th frame, you have to take 1 more shot to determine the points for the last frame. When you bowl a strike in the 10th frame, you have to take 2 more shots to calculate the points for the last frame.
Now that you know how to figure out your own score in bowling, you can see why scoring strikes and spares is so important. The more strikes and spares you get, the higher your score will go, and consecutive strikes or spares give an even bigger boost.