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How Many Points is a Strike in Bowling? A Secret Single Move that Unlocks 300 Points Revealed!

  • Reading time:9 mins read

Strikes are one of the most thrilling plays in bowling. When you knock down all 10 pins solidly with your first roll, you’ve achieved the coveted strike. Nothing beats that feeling of bowling perfection.

Besides the excitement, strikes also help boost your score exponentially through bonus points. But exactly how many points is a bowling strike worth? Keep reading as we break down strike scoring, frame by frame.

What is a Strike in Bowling?

First, let’s define a strike in bowling for those new to the sport. A strike refers to knocking over all 10 pins with your very first roll in a frame. The pins must be completely cleared off the lane – if any pin is left standing, it does not count as a strike.

When you bowl a strike, you’ll see an “X” marked on your scoresheet. This signifies the bonus scoring that happens as a result.

How a Strike Affects Your Bowling Score

So how does this stellar move of clearing all the pins in one throw affect your final bowling score?

Frame Points

In the frame where the strike occurs, you automatically receive 10 points. This accounts for knocking down all pins in the first attempt.

Bonus Points

In addition, because all pins fell on the first ball, you earn bonus points. The bonus is the total of your next two rolls, across the next two frames.

For example, if you roll a strike in Frame 1, then roll a 7 and 2 in Frames 2 and 3, you would earn 10+7+2 points in Frame 1. That’s a total of 19 points for that frame.

By earning strikes consistently across frames, you compound your scores exponentially.

Let’s walk through an example strike-scoring scenario:

You bowl a strike in Frame 1. Fantastic!

  • Frame 1 receives 10 points + the next two rolls as a bonus

In Frame 2, you knock down 6 pins on the first throw, then 3 pins for a total of 9 pins in the frame.

  • Your Frame 1 strike of 10 points now gets a bonus of the 9 pins from Frame 2.
    • Frame 1 = 10 points (strike) + 9 points (Frame 2) = 19 points

In Frame 3, you roll another strike! Sweet!

  • Your Frame 1 strike now gets the bonus points of the next two rolls after your Frame 3 strike is thrown.
    • Frame 1 = 10 points + [9 points (Frame 2) + next two rolls]

As you can see, every strike you throw earns you exponential points through these bonus scoring opportunities. Maximizing strikes is critical for reaching high bowling scores.

Why Do Strikes Boost Your Bowling Score?

Besides the exhilaration, why are strikes so coveted in bowling? Here are two key reasons:

  1. Bonus Points Opportunities

As described above, knocking down all 10 pins on your first roll opens up bonus scoring possibilities. You earn the value of your next two rolls across the subsequent frames.

Without strikes, you cannot earn more than 30 points in a frame (10 pins, with 3 rolls max). But with a strike, if your next two rolls also hit all 10 pins, you’d earn 30 bonus points in addition to the strike’s 10 points. That’s 40 total points in one frame thanks to your first strike!

  1. Starts a Chain Reaction

Not only do strikes award big bonus points, but they also increase your chances of throwing more strikes. Taking out all the pins in one fell swoop preserves the ideal setup for throwing another strike next frame.

However, leaving pins scattered changes the setup. You might still hit the remaining pins, but not always take out all 10. A strike begets more strikes when the bowler gets into a consistent groove.

This sets up sequences of multiple strikes frame after frame. And as we now know, consecutive strikes lead to exponential scoring possibilities.

What Happens When You Throw Multiple Strikes?

The elation bowlers feel when a strike is thrown is further elevated when strings of strikes occur through consecutive frames. So does the scoring. Here is what happens when you reach strike nirvana:

Consecutive Strikes

If you throw two strikes back-to-back in Frames 1 and 2, you get 10 points for Frame 1. Frame 2 then earns you 20+ points as a bonus (the next two rolls after the second strike).

Three Consecutive Strikes

Extend that to three strikes in a row in Frames 1-3. Frame 1 earns its 10 points, plus 20+ bonus points for the next two rolls after the Frame 3 strike. Excitement builds!

Potential Perfect Game

What bowling fan hasn’t dreamed of the perfect 12 strikes in a row, also known as a “turkey” with three consecutive strikes? If accomplished, your score would tally the maximum possible 300 points!

12 strikes in a game happens rarely, but the bonus strike points do mathematically allow for perfection, if only in our dreams.

Strike Scoring vs Spare Scoring

Strikes reward high scorers exponentially, but what about their cousin, spares? Let’s compare strike vs spare scoring.

A spare refers to knocking down all 10 pins, but using both of your rolls to do so in a frame. You might knock down 7 pins in roll 1, then pick up the remaining 3 pins in roll 2. This still counts as a spare since ultimately you cleared the lane.

Both spares and strikes provide scoring bonuses:


  • Knock down all 10 pins first roll
  • Earn the next two rolls from the following frames


  • Knock down 10 pins over 2 rolls
  • Earn the next roll from the following frame

While both boost your score through bonus rolls, strikes enable higher scores by earning the next two rolls as points. Their explosive first-roll impact paves the way for more strikes and more unmatched scoring power.

Maximizing strikes should be every bowler’s key strategy and the core reason why strikes electrify scoring.

Key Takeaways – How Many Points is a Strike in Bowling?

We’ve covered quite a few frames on strikes, so let’s revisit the key strike-scoring takeaways:

  • Strikes occur when a bowler knocks down all 10 pins with the first roll in a frame
  • The bowler earns a 10-point base, plus bonus points equal to the next two rolls
  • Consecutive strikes enable exponential scoring from earning bonus points frame after frame
  • 12 strikes in a row leads to a “perfect game” score of 300 points!

While the atmosphere of bowling is relaxed and social, serious bowlers know that strikes are pivotal in racking up high scores. Their explosive first-roll power paves the way for more strikes and unmatched scoring possibilities.

Next time you gear up to bowl, visualize that first bold roll smashing all the pins. Then watch the strikes and smiley faces rack up on your scoresheet!

If you want to improve your strike percentage and totals, be sure to browse our bowling tips blog for more advice. Happy Pin Smashing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many points is 3 strikes in a row?

With 3 consecutive strikes, the scoring possibilities become exponential. The first strike frame would earn at least 30 points (10 plus the next 2 rolls worth 20 points).

How many points is a spare in bowling?

A spare earns 10 points for knocking down all pins plus a 1-roll bonus from the next frame. So at least 11 points, could be higher depending on the pin count in the bonus roll.

How many points is 12 strikes?

12 strikes in a row is a perfect 300-game, the maximum possible points in bowling.

How do you score 300 in bowling?

You score 300 points by bowling a strike in every frame across all 10 frames plus the bonus balls. 12 strikes back-to-back-to-back.

What is 4 strikes in bowling called?

Stringing together 4 strikes is called a “hambone”.

What is 5 strikes in bowling called?

5 consecutive strikes are referred to as a “five bagger”.

What is 6 strikes in a row called?

6 back-to-back strikes are called a “six-pack”.

How many strikes do you need to bowl a 200?

To score 200+ points, you need at least 6-7 strikes in a game. The bonus points from consecutive strikes enable reaching the 200+ scoring tier.

What is the highest score you can get in bowling without a strike?

Without any strikes, the highest possible score is 150 points from averaging all spares in each frame. Strikes enable breaking past the 150 ceilings.