Even though automatic scores are used, it's important that you know how to keep score. While learning to do the math on paper is a bit old school, this information is valuable during competitions, when the game is close, and it will help you know what is needed to get the win.
To start, below is the basic layout of a frame:
This is a frame
You get to roll the ball 2 times in one frame, unless you get a strike
In ten-pin bowling, there are 10 frames in 1 game.
A strike is marked when you knock down all the pins with your first roll. A strike gives you extra pins as a bonus. You do not add up the score for this frame until you have rolled the ball two more times.
A spare is marked when you knock down all the pins with two rolls. A spare gives you extra pins as a bonus, too. You do not add up the score for this frame until you have rolled the ball one more time.
Miss or Open
If you roll the ball into the gutter on the first roll, it means no pins were hit. Remember, you have two rolls per frame so you still have a chance to knock down some pins or maybe you might knock them all down and get a spare.
If you knock down eight pins on your first roll and then you miss the two pins that were standing on the second roll, that also is a miss and you only get to add the eight pins you knocked down to your score.
Frame-by-Frame Scoring Walk-Through
Using a completed scoring sheet below, let's walk through how this game was scored from start to finish:
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down 8 pins.
- Roll #2 – Athlete misses the 2 pins left standing, for a score of 8 in the first frame.
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down 5 pins.
- Roll #2 – Athlete knocks down the 5 pins left standing for a spare. We won't write anything in the second frame until the next roll.
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down 3 pins; now the score for the second frame goes in. How do you do this? Simply add the 8 from the first frame, plus 10 for the spare in the second frame plus the 3 pins that were knocked down on the first roll in the third frame: 8+10+3 = 21.
- Roll #2 – Athlete knocks down 5 of the 7 pins that were left standing, so the total for the third frame is 29 (21+8 = 29).
- Roll # 1 – Athlete knocks down 8 pins.
- Roll # 2 – Athlete knocks down 1 of the 2 left standing, so the score in the fourth frame is 38 (29+9= 38).
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down 7 pins.
- Roll #2 – Athlete knocks down 1 of the 3 pins left standing, so the score in the fifth frame is 46 (38+8 = 46).
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down all 10 pins for a strike, so mark an X.
- Roll #2 – Since the athlete knocked them all down on the first roll, they do not get to roll again until the next frame.
- Roll #1 –Athlete knocks down 9 pins but you must wait to add the score for the sixth frame since the athlete gets one more roll before that happens.
- Roll#2 – The athlete knocks the pin down for a spare, so the score for the sixth frame is 66; the 46 plus 10 for the strike, then 10 for the next two rolls: 46+10+10 = 66.
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down all 10 pins for a strike, mark an X and a score of 86 goes into the seventh frame: 66+10+10 = 86.
- Roll #2 – No roll, cannot add score yet
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down all 10 pin for another strike, mark an X.
- Roll #2 – No roll, cannot add score yet.
- Roll #1 – Athlete knocks down 8 pins, since strikes count 10 plus the next two rolls, a score of 114 gets marked in the eighth frame. Here is how it works: After the strike in the eighth, the first roll was a strike in the ninth frame and the second roll was the 8 pins knocked down in the 10th frame (86+10+10+8 = 114).
- Roll #2 – Athlete knocks down the two pins standing for a spare, which is the second roll for the strike that was rolled in the ninth frame so 20 (10+10) gets added to the 114 for a score of 134 in the ninth frame. Since the athlete got a spare they get one more bonus roll.
- Roll #3 – Athlete knocks down 6 pins, now 16 (10+6) pins are added to the 134 for a total score of 150.
Here are a few practice frames for you to try (answers below):
If you calculated the totals to be, [8,17] [19, 28] [4, 12, 20] [20, 39, 48,] [9, 29, 58] then you are correct! To clarify the 10th frame, it should be 29+10+10+9 = 58
Fill in the score
Go ahead and try to figure out the total for each frame. (answers below)
And here are the correct answers: