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Discover the Truth About Average Bowling Score: How High Can Pros and Amateurs REALLY Get?

  • Reading time:16 mins read

Bowling has been a popular sport for centuries, enjoyed by kids and adults alike. From casual games to competitive tournaments, bowling offers fun for all skill levels.

But have you ever wondered what counts as an “average” bowling score? Scores can vary widely depending on whether you’re a recreational weekend bowler or a pro tournament player.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the typical average bowling scores for both recreational and professional bowlers. You’ll see how factors like demographics, skill level, equipment, oil patterns, and more can impact scoring. We’ll also provide tips to help improve your personal bowling average. Let’s get rolling!

Average Scores for Recreational Bowlers

Most bowling happens not in televised tournaments but at the local alley on league night or a weekend outing. The average bowling score for recreational players can cover a wide range but tends to fall somewhere between 90 and 150.

The USBC (United States Bowling Congress) found that the average score for all recreational bowlers is around 115. However, you can expect variation based on demographics and skill level.

Average Scores by Demographic

  • Women: Tend to average scores of 100-130. The female average is around 115.
  • Men: Average slightly higher at 105-140. The male average is around 125.
  • Children: Younger kids 5-12 might average 50-100 as they’re developing skills.
  • Teens: Average scores of 90-120 as they gain more bowling experience.
  • Seniors: Older bowlers 55+ tend to average 130-150 as they’ve honed techniques over the years.

As you can see, there is a spectrum when looking at averages by age and gender. Experience plays a key role in determining recreational bowling abilities.

Average Scores by Skill Level

Another factor is the player’s general skill level. Here is how it breaks down:

  • Beginner: Those just learning tend to score under 100. Struggling with gutter balls and spare shooting is common at this stage.
  • Intermediate: Bowlers with some experience under their belt average 100-130. They’ve developed basic control and consistency.
  • Advanced: Experienced league and tournament bowlers average 130-160. They possess solid mechanics and accuracy.
  • Professional: Elite pro players competing in tournaments see high averages of 200+ (more on that later).

You can expect your recreational average to start low and steadily increase as your skills improve with time and practice. Let’s look at some other elements that influence a casual bowler’s score.

Other Factors Influencing Recreational Bowling Scores

  • Bowling ball: Proper ball weight, fit, and drilling are key. The optimal ball depends on your bowling style.
  • Lane conditions: Heavily oiled “sport” patterns versus drier “house” patterns impact scoring ease.
  • Spare shooting: Being able to reliably pick up spares boosts your score significantly.
  • Bowling on different lanes: Unfamiliar lanes take adjustment to find lines and breakpoints.
  • Technique: Having an effective and repeatable approach, release, and follow-through is crucial.
  • Equipment maintenance: Well-maintained balls, shoes, inserts, etc. keep you consistent.
  • Focus: Maintaining concentration and minimizing distractions helps execution.
  • Health factors: Injuries or medical conditions can hamper bowling performance.
  • Mental game: Confidence, positive self-talk, and dealing with nerves/pressure affect scoring ability.

As you gain more bowling experience, you’ll get better at adapting to different lane conditions, equipment, and environments. Your average will climb into the experienced player range.

Tips to Increase Your Bowling Average

Looking to raise your recreational bowling average? Here are some handy tips:

  • Get a ball drilling and fit customized to your hand size and bowling style. The right ball makes all the difference.
  • Work on picking up spares using 3-6-9 or plastic ball targeting. Hitting more spares boosts scores.
  • Build a consistent preshot routine to get in a groove for each shot. This builds muscle memory.
  • Focus on making high-percentage shots rather than “leaving” complex splits. Accuracy first.
  • Make incremental adjustments as you transition to different lane conditions. Don’t rush major form changes.
  • Analyze your ball motion and look for breakdown points. Move your feet or target to adjust.
  • Bowl regularly to hone techniques. Muscle development and control improve with practice.
  • Watch other experienced bowlers to study their strategies on the lanes.
  • Stay relaxed, focused, and confident. Block out distractions and negative thinking.
  • Maintain fitness and flexibility to avoid injuries, stay balanced, and maximize power.

With some determination and practice, you can boost your recreational bowling averages into the advanced territory. But how do regular bowlers’ scores compare to the pros? Read on to find out.

Average Scores for Professional Bowlers

Professional and elite amateur tournament bowling represents a whole different level of scoring averages. While casual bowlers may be thrilled to hit 150, pro bowlers are disappointed with anything less than 200. Just how high do the averages go on the PBA and tournament scene?

PBA Tour Averages

The PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) Tour represents the pinnacle of competitive bowling. The best professional bowlers in the world compete in PBA tour events each year. The scoring averages of PBA bowlers reflect their immense skills.

Recent PBA Tour scoring averages:

  • 2018-19 Season: 222 average score
  • 2019-20 Season: 228 average score
  • 2021 Season: 234 average score

As you can see, today’s top PBA stars are averaging over 230 points per game. The all-time PBA scoring record belongs to Norm Duke, who has a career average of 228. That type of sustained excellence demonstrates why he’s a Hall of Famer.

Other Tournament Averages

PBA tournaments aren’t the only places to see high pro bowling averages. The scores put up at other elite events are just as staggering.

  • U.S. Open: Scoring pace around 230. Parker Bohn III holds the record at 256 on average.
  • World Championships: Typical scoring of 220-240. The late Earl Anthony once averaged 252.
  • Masters Tournament: Greats like Jason Belmonte and Michael Fagan have averaged 240+ here.
  • USBC Masters: The challenging lane patterns lead to 215-225 averages.

As you can see, pro bowling tournaments feature some jaw-dropping numbers compared to recreational play. Let’s look at a few standout pro bowlers raising the bar.

Today’s Top Professionals Raising Bowling Averages

While many pros boast excellent averages, these bowlers consistently set the standard:

Jason Belmonte

  • Australian star with 13 major titles
  • 25 career 300 games (perfect scores)
  • Career 230 average with a high of 268
  • Known for its unique two-handed bowling style

Anthony Simonsen

  • Young PBA phenom who already has 19 titles
  • Bowled record 299 game average for 8 games (2,393 pins)
  • 242 career PBA average and rising fast
  • Also excels at spare shooting

Kyle Troup

  • One of the most powerful players on tour
  • Owns a career-high PBA average of 246
  • Rolled 2 televised 300 games in one season
  • Excels at high scoring on sports shot patterns

Liz Johnson

  • Top female player with over 30 championship wins
  • The only woman with over 100 career 300 games
  • Has averaged as high as 225 on challenging PBA patterns
  • Recognized for consistency and accuracy

These pros and many others continue pushing the limits of scoring. They combine raw talent with relentless skill development to reach new heights.

Why Pros Average 50-100 Pins More Than Recreational Bowlers

With such a massive gulf between recreational and pro-scoring averages, you may wonder why the disparity? There are several key reasons:

  • Precision: Pro repeatability of hitting exact spots, speeds, and marks is unparalleled.
  • Power: Top pros generate high ball speed for maximum pin carry and mixing action.
  • Adaptability: Pros tune their game to thrive on various lane conditions.
  • Spares: Pros rarely miss single-pin spares, gaining huge advantages.
  • Fitness: Bowling 20+ games a week requires top conditioning to avoid fatigue or injury.
  • Equipment: Pros have numerous personalized balls for different lane types.
  • Mental Game: Laser focus and poise under pressure separate the greats.
  • Experience: Most have bowled over 100,000 frames. That amount of practice pays off.

The differences between recreational and professional bowling are easy to see when you consider the preparation, dedication, and execution needed to succeed at the highest level.

What Counts as a Good Bowling Score or Average?

After looking at the averages for different categories of bowlers, what can you determine as a “good” score for your skill level? The answer depends greatly on whether you are a casual recreational player or a serious competitive tournament bowler.

Here are some general benchmarks to evaluate your scores:

Recreational Bowling

Beginner (under 100 average)

  • Good Game: 75-110
  • Good Series: 150-200

Intermediate (100-130 average)

  • Good Game: 120-160
  • Good Series: 250-300

Advanced (130-160 average)

  • Good Game: 150-200
  • Good Series: 325-375

As you improve, your definition of a good recreational score will change. Focus on achieving personal bests rather than getting caught up in what counts as “good”.

Professional Bowling

200-220 Average Bowlers

  • Good Game: 200-250
  • Good Series: 600-750

220-240 Average Bowlers

  • Good Game: 230-280
  • Good Series: 700-850

240-260 Average Bowlers

  • Good Game: 250-300
  • Good Series: 750-900

For pros, the standards are understandably much higher. However, they still aim to exceed their averages and hit peak performances when conditions allow it.

Understanding Bowling Averages

Keeping averages in perspective is also key. They represent your general scoring ability but day-to-day games fluctuate above and below.

  • League averages are calculated from all your scores across a season
  • Tournament averages compile your scores in a shorter span
  • Different conditions mean adjusting your expectations
  • Don’t let one good or bad week change your outlook

By looking at averages in context, you get an accurate overview of your bowling abilities. Set goals based on reasonable improvements over time rather than unrealistic expectations.


We’ve covered quite a range of looking at average bowling scores! While recreational players can feel accomplished hitting 120-150, pros view that as an off day. As you develop your bowling skills, your ideas of what makes a good score will continue evolving.

The key things to remember are:

  • Focus on beating your averages and achieving your personal best.
  • Don’t get caught up in game-to-game fluctuations and single performances.
  • Give yourself time to steadily improve based on deliberate practice.
  • Master spares, adjust to conditions, and repeat solid techniques.
  • Stay motivated knowing the pros have bowled for decades to reach their scoring levels.

With a balanced approach, you can enjoy bowling more whether you’re a casual player or aspiring pro. Remember to keep it fun first and foremost.

What tips do you have for improving bowling scores and averages? Please share your experiences bowling recreationally or competitively. We want to hear your stories!

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to bowl a 200?

Bowling a 200-game is quite challenging for most recreational players. Typically it requires above-average skills in accuracy, speed control, and adjusting to lane conditions. However, more experienced league bowlers and those with higher averages should be able to bowl 200s on occasion when they are at the top of their game.

Can you get over 300 in bowling?

Yes, it is possible to score over 300 in a bowling game. The highest possible score is 300, which requires getting 12 consecutive strikes. This is extremely rare even among professional bowlers. Some recreational players have accomplished it but it requires perfection.

Can you score 180 in bowling?

A score of 180 is readily achievable by intermediate to advanced recreational bowlers. Those with averages in the 130-160 range should be able to manage 180+ games when they are focused and have some luck on their side. It’s a good score but well short of perfection.

What is the average bowling score for a woman?

The average bowling score for female players is around 115. Beginners tend to score around 100 while more advanced women bowlers can average 150-180. The top female professionals have an average of over 200. But for most casual female players, 100-130 is typical.

Can anyone bowl at 100mph?

Throwing the ball at 100 mph is incredibly rare. The PBA record is around 106 mph. Only a handful of elite pros with optimized technique and strength/fitness training can reach such speeds. For most bowlers, speeds between 15-25 mph are more realistic.

What does it take to bowl a 300?

Bowling a perfect 300-game requires getting 12 strikes in a row in one game. This demands very high skill, flawless technique, and some luck. Consistently bowling over 200 will give you the foundation to have a chance. Maximizing pin carry and adjusting to the lanes is key. Only elite pros routinely have a shot at 300 games.

Can you bowl a 300 without all strikes?

No, a 300-game requires all strikes. You cannot score 300 without getting 12 strikes in a row in one game. Anything less than 12 strikes means at least one open frame, which automatically keeps the score below 300.

Has anyone bowled a 900?

Yes, scoring 900 over a 3-game series by bowling 300s in all 3 consecutive games has been achieved. The first to do it was Glenn Allison in 1982. A few other pro bowlers like Pete Weber and John Mazza have shot 900s in certified competition. But it is extremely rare even among elite professionals.

What is 3 strikes in a row called?

In bowling, throwing 3 strikes consecutively is called a “turkey”. This is a challenging accomplishment for amateurs but common for experienced bowlers. Getting 4 strikes in a row is called a “four-bagger”. Pros regularly throw longer string of strikes, sometimes reaching 11 or 12 in a row for back-to-back 300 games.