You are currently viewing How to Calculate Bowling Score: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Score Like a Pro Bowler

How to Calculate Bowling Score: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Score Like a Pro Bowler

  • Reading time:11 mins read

Bowling is one of America’s most beloved pastimes. With over 70 million people heading to the lanes every year, it’s easy to see why bowling remains so popular. The thunderous crash of bowling pins falling down, and the sweet satisfaction of a well-placed strike – bowling offers fun for all ages.

Yet, while the game itself is straightforward, keeping score in bowling can seem complicated to new players. With strange terms like strikes, spares, splits, and gutters, the bowling scorecard can quickly become confusing.

But don’t let the scoring prevent you from enjoying bowling! Learning how to score a bowling game is actually quite simple. With just a bit of guidance on the bowling scoring system, values, and scorekeeping rules, you’ll be scoring like a pro.

This complete guide will teach you the basics for accurately calculating your bowling score. You’ll learn how to score each frame, account for strikes and spares, and total up your final game score. With just a pencil, paper, and this clear, step-by-step lesson, you’ll understand exactly how to keep score and track your performance.

Let’s get rolling with the fundamentals!

Bowling Scorecard and Scorekeeping Basics

Before we dive into the math, let’s review the bowling scorecard format and scoring basics:

  • Bowling games consist of 10 frames
  • In each frame, the bowler gets two chances to knock down all 10 pins
  • The scorecard has boxes to track each frame’s number of pins knocked down
  • The score is cumulative across frames, so you add each frame’s total

The goal is to knock down all the pins in the fewest number of rolls. The total number of pins knocked down, plus any bonus rolls, make up your score.

Two key factors that impact your frame scores are strikes and spares. Let’s break down how to score these correctly:

How to Score Strikes

A strike occurs when you knock down all 10 pins on your first roll in a frame. For scoring a strike:

  • Mark an “X” in the first box for that frame
  • Add the total pins knocked down in the NEXT TWO rolls to the strike frame

For example:

Frame 1: Strike (X) Frame 2: 7 pins, then 3 pins

To score the strike frame, you would add:

Strike (10) + Frame 2 Roll 1 (7) + Frame 2 Roll 2 (3) = 20 points

By earning a strike, you get bonus points for the next two rolls. This encourages bowlers to aim for more strikes!

How to Score Spares

A spare is earned when you knock down all 10 pins over the two rolls in a frame. For a spare:

  • Mark a “/” in the second box for the frame
  • Add the pins knocked down on the NEXT roll after the spare

Let’s look at an example:

Frame 3: 3 pins, then 7 pins (Spare) Frame 4: 6 pins

To score the spare frame, calculate:

Frame 3 Roll 1 (3) + Frame 3 Roll 2 (7) = Spare (10) Spare bonus (Frame 4 Roll 1) = 6 pins Total score for Frame 3 = 10 + 6 = 16 points

With a spare, you pick up a bonus from the next roll. So aim for spares to boost your score!

Scoring Your Bowling Game Frame-By-Frame

Now that we’ve reviewed strikes, spares, and the scorecard, let’s walk through how to calculate your bowling score after each frame:

Frame 1 Roll 1: You knock down 7 pins Roll 2: You knock down 2 more pins

Total pins for Frame 1 = 7 + 2 = 9 points

Frame 2 Roll 1: You knock down 4 pins Roll 2: You knock down 3 more pins

Total pins for Frame 2 = 4 + 3 = 7 points

Frame 3 Roll 1: Strike! (Mark an X and wait for next two rolls)

Frame 4 Roll 1: 7 pins Roll 2: 2 pins

Now score your strike frame: Strike (10) + Frame 4 Roll 1 (7) + Frame 4 Roll 2 (2) = 19 points

Frame 5 Roll 1: 5 pins Roll 2: Spare! (Knocked down remaining 5 pins) (Mark /)

Frame 6 Roll 1: 8 pins

Score your spare frame from Frame 5: Frame 5 Roll 1 (5) + Frame 5 Roll 2 (5) = Spare (10) Spare bonus from Frame 6 Roll 1 = 8 pins Total for Frame 5 = 10 + 8 = 18 points

And so on, continue tracking each frame and calculating running totals across strikes and spares until the end…

Adding Up Your Final Bowling Score

After bowling 10 frames:

  • Add up your total pins knocked down in regular frames
  • Add any strike and spare bonus rolls
  • The final total is your game score!

Let’s say your score looked like this:

Frame 1: 9 points Frame 2: 7 points Frame 3: Strike (19 points) Frame 4: 8 points Frame 5: Spare (18 points) Frame 6: 10 points Frame 7: Strike (26 points) Frame 8: 10 points Frame 9: Strike (17 points) Frame 10: Spare (15 points)

Total Score = 9 + 7 + 19 + 8 + 18 + 10 + 26 + 10 + 17 + 15 = 139 points

Top players score over 200, while beginners often end under 100. With practice, and savvy strike and spare shooting, your scores will climb!

Bowling Score Tips and Tricks

To maximize your bowling scores and improve your game, keep these handy tips in mind:

  • Aim for the 1-3 pocket between the headpin and 3-pin to increase strike chances
  • Focus on accuracy and a smooth delivery for consistent results
  • Visualize each shot knocking down all pins as you approach
  • Take time after spares and splits to set up the optimal next shot
  • Buy a custom ball and get it drilled for proper finger size and span
  • Keep your wrist and arm straight throughout the swing and release
  • Bowl at different spots on the lane to account for oil patterns
  • Analyze frame-by-frame totals to identify strengths/weaknesses
  • Practice complicated spare conversions like the 7-10 split
  • Join a league to bowl regularly and track scores over time

With the right bowling ball, carefully aimed shots, smart spare shooting, and an understanding of how to tally strikes and spares, you’ll be bowling high scores in no time.


While bowling scoring can seem confusing at first glance, this guide breaks down exactly how to calculate your score step-by-step. Simply remember:

  • Each frame allows up to two rolls to knock down all 10 pins
  • Strike bonuses add the next two rolls, spares the next one roll
  • Tally each frame and accumulate the running total
  • Aim for strikes and spares to maximize points
  • Practice makes perfect!

Next time you head to the alley, keep this scoring guide handy. In no time, you’ll be scoring strikes, picking up spares, and keeping track of big bowling scores.

Now get out on the lanes and have a ball! With the right techniques and a bit of scorekeeping knowledge, you’ll be bowling like a pro.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many points is 3 strikes in a row?

Three strikes in a row score 30 points. Each strike scores 10 points plus the next two rolls. So the first strike is 10 points, the second strike is 10 + the next two rolls, and the third strike is 10 plus the two rolls after that. Three consecutive strikes add up to 30 points.

How do you fill out a bowling score sheet?

To fill out a bowling score sheet:

  • Write the names of players at the top
  • In each frame box, write the number of pins knocked down on each roll
  • Mark an X for a strike on the first roll
  • Mark a / for a spare in the second roll box
  • Add up the scores and write the total under each frame
  • Calculate bonus points for strikes and spares and add them to the running total
  • At the end, add up all points for the final total score
  • How do you score strikes and spares?

For a strike, score 10 points plus the next two rolls. For a spare, score 10 points plus the next roll. So a strike followed by 3 pins then 2 pins would be 10 + 3 + 2 = 15 points. A spare followed by 5 pins would be 10 + 5 = 15 points.

How much is 4 strikes in a row?

Four consecutive strikes in a row score 60 points. The first strike is 10 points. The second strike earns 10 + the next two rolls. The third strike earns 10 plus the two rolls after that. And the fourth strike earns 10 points plus the next two rolls. Adding it up, 4 strikes in a row equals 60 points.

How many strikes is 300 points?

12 consecutive strikes make up a perfect 300-game in bowling. Since each strike earns 10 points plus the next two rolls, 12 strikes in a row account for 12 frames x 10 points per strike + two bonus rolls per strike = 12 x 10 + 2 x 12 = 120 + 24 = 300 points.

How many strikes do you need to bowl a 200?

To score 200 points, you need at least 6 strikes. Three strikes in a row earn 30 points. So you would need at least two sets of three consecutive strikes (2 x 30 = 60 points). The remaining 140 points would need to come from additional strikes and spares for a total of 200+ points.

How many points is 2 strikes in a row?

Two consecutive strikes earn a total of 20 points. The first strike is 10 points. The second strike earns 10 points plus the next two rolls. So two strikes in a row equals 10 + 10 + the next two rolls, for a total of 20 points.

How do you score bowling for dummies?

To score bowling for beginners:

  • Score each roll by the pins knocked down
  • Mark an X for a strike in frame one
  • Mark a / for a spare in frame two
  • Add each frame score as you go
  • Strikes get the next two rolls added
  • Spares get the next roll added
  • Count bonus points carefully
  • Tally total score at the end
  • How to do math in bowling?

The math in bowling involves adding up points per frame, plus calculating strike and spare bonuses:

  • Add pins knocked down each roll
  • Strike = 10 + next two rolls
  • Spare = 10 + next roll
  • Tally score per frame
  • Accumulate running total frame-by-frame
  • Calculate carefully across strikes and spares
  • Total all points at the end for the game score