14 Bowling Etiquette Tips

Bowling Etiquette Tips
Bowling etiquette rules include respecting other players' turns, not walking onto the approach when someone else is bowling, refraining from using offensive language, and not throwing multiple balls at once. Remember to congratulate others on good shots and to keep the area tidy.

1. Dress Appropriately 

Wear comfortable, casual clothing that allows for ease of movement, such as athletic wear or jeans. Avoid revealing or flashy clothing and jewelry, as this distracts other players.

Some bowling alleys may have dress codes, so it’s best to check beforehand.

2. Bowling Shoes

a man wearing bowling shoes
Wearing bowling shoes is a must.

These shoes have a special sole that allows for better grip and sliding on the approach, which is necessary for proper bowling technique.

They are usually available for rental, and many bowling centers require that you wear them while playing for safety reasons.

3. Be In Your Lane, Literally

When bowling, stay in your lane to ensure you do not interfere with the other players and avoid any potential accidents.

This means that you should avoid stepping into the adjacent lanes or crossing over the foul line.

4. Who Goes First 

The person immediately to your right should go first if you both enter the lane simultaneously.

Because of this unwritten norm, asking who should go first is no longer necessary. Also, it stops you from rolling simultaneously and getting sidetracked by your partner.

5. Wait For The Pins To Be Ready

You should wait for the pins to be reset and ready before making your next throw. After each roll, the pins are cleared and reset by a pinsetter machine, ensuring they are properly aligned and ready for the next player.

If you try to make your next throw before the pins are fully reset, you risk damaging the pins or the pin-setting machine. 

6. Don’t Take Forever To Aim

a girl aiming the ball as soon as the pins are ready
Girl aiming the ball as soon as the pins are ready

While it is essential to take time to aim and set up your shot in a bowling game, it is also important not to take too long. Taking too much time can disrupt the game’s flow and affect other players’ concentration.

When it is your turn to bowl, it is best to approach the lane and begin your approach as soon as the pins have been arranged.

7. After Taking The Shot

After you’ve taken your shot in a bowling game, there are a few things you should do:

  • After you’ve released the ball, maintain your form and follow through with your shot. This means keeping your arm straight and extending it toward your target until the ball reaches the pins.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball traveling down the lane and towards the pins. This will help you see your shot’s performance and adjust for your next throw.
  • If you make a good shot and knock down many pins, take a moment to celebrate with your teammates or friends. If your shot wasn’t as successful as you hoped, take a deep breath, regroup, and focus on your next shot.
  • Once your shot is complete, reset the pins before the next bowler can take their turn. Check the score and align the pins properly before hitting the reset button.

8. Strike/Score Rules

In bowling, a strike is when you knock down all 10 pins on the first delivery of a frame. If you strike two times in a row, it’s called a double. Three times is called a turkey, and four times is four-bagger(s).

A strike is worth 10 points plus the value of the next two rolls. You get two attempts to knock over all the pins for each frame. If you strike every frame, that is a perfect score.

9. Stay Away From Foul Line

bowling lane
Stay away from the fowl line to prevent slipping and falling

A critical aspect of bowling is staying on your feet. This can be challenging, especially when navigating the oily, slippery foul line.

If you step on the foul line, you risk slipping and falling, which can be embarrassing and result in injury. 

10. Be Mindful Of Bowlers In Adjacent Lanes 

Bowling is not just about how you perform but also about respecting the other players around you. Avoid talking to them when they are taking a shot. 

11. No Snacks And Beverages In The Approach Area 

As you lace up your shoes and prepare to take to the lanes, remember that snacking and sipping beverages are prohibited in the approach area. This rule is in place to ensure the safety of all bowlers and maintain the integrity of the game.

Snacking and drinking can be a major distraction, causing you to lose concentration and harm yourself or others.

12. Seek Permission To Use Other’s Ball 

If you’re experienced in bowling, you know that having the right ball can make all the difference in your game.

Sometimes you don’t have your own ball or are curious about trying out someone else’s ball. Always seek permission before using your fellow bowler’s ball. 

13. Respect Your Team Members

Showing respect for your teammates in a bowling game means being supportive, communicative, celebratory, and gracious.

Working together and treating each other with kindness and respect can help create a positive and successful team.

Also Read: 17 Tennis Etiquette For Players and Spectators

14. Return The Equipment

Here’s a list of equipment  used during a bowling game and where to return them:

  • Bowling ball: Return the ball to the ball return or the ball rack on the side of the lane.
  • Bowling shoes: Return the shoes to the shoe rental or designated shoe return areas.
  • Rental socks: If you rented socks, return them to the rental area or designated sock return area.
  • Scorecard: If you filled out a scorecard, return it to the front desk or designated area.
  • Lane equipment: Return any lane equipment, such as ball cleaning towels, to the appropriate location, typically near the ball return.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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