Anyone who’s gone bowling knows that you usually pay per game.
If you want to keep playing, then you pay for another game.
However, you may wonder how long that game is going to last to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Here’s what you need to know about how long a game of bowling lasts.
How Long Is One Game Of Bowling?
On average, a single game of bowling can take anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours to play.
In general, if you’re playing by yourself, then you can expect to finish in 20 minutes.
That time may be even shorter if you’re a professional bowler or focusing solely on the game.
The game gets longer when you have more players.
A group of four players may take an hour or hour and a half to finish bowling.
A group of six players can take anywhere from two hours to three hours to finish.
There are a few variables that can impact how long a game of bowling lasts.
Here are some of those variables.
One of the biggest factors that can impact how long a game of bowling lasts is the number of players.
If you’re by yourself, then there are few distractions from the game.
You’re able to focus solely on throwing the ball down the lane.
Since you’re on your own, then you don’t have to wait for your turn either.
It’s always your turn.
This enables you to quickly toss the bowling ball down the lane and finish your game.
Your game might last longer if you socialize with other players or stop to eat some of the food at the alley.
However, if you’re playing the game with more than one person, then you can expect the game to last a bit longer.
That’s because everyone gets two chances to roll the ball down the lane.
If someone gets a strike, then their turn is over immediately.
For passive players, strikes aren’t as common.
They’re playing the game socially instead.
This means that the players are less likely concerned about rolling strikes.
As such, most of them will likely get two turns instead of one with a strike.
That extends the length of the game.
If there are several players, then each round or “frame” lasts even longer since everyone has to get their turn.
The more people you have bowling, the longer the game is going to last.
2. Food Breaks
Another variable that extends the length of a bowling game is whether you stop for food or not.
While a bowling alley generates money by having its players pay to bowl, one of its main sources of income is food sales.
At most alleys, you can expect standard bar food.
They typically have pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs.
A lot of bowlers will come to the bowling alley and end up having a meal there, too.
It’s convenient and having something to eat while bowling makes sense.
After all, bowling can become physically strenuous.
Eating food can extend your game either by a small amount of time or a lot.
If you’re eating on your own, then it probably won’t take long to finish up and get back to the game.
If you’re eating with friends, however, then it’s likely going to take longer.
That’s because you’re usually socializing while eating.
You also have to wait to continue playing until everyone finishes their meal.
If someone is a slower eater than the rest, then the game might face more of a delay.
This is often why birthday parties tend to last a long time at a bowling alley.
The partygoers have to eat a meal and usually cake as well.
This puts a major delay on the game until everyone finishes.
Eating food can make a game of bowling last longer.
Another small variable that can greatly influence the length of time it takes to finish a game of bowling is the amount of focus that everyone has.
If the game is more social than competitive, then everyone is probably focused on each other.
This adds time because it might mean that someone wants to finish up a conversation before taking their turn.
It might mean that they take their time picking up their ball and approaching the lane because they’re talking.
While this may only add a few minutes to the clock, if everyone is doing it, then that can add some serious time to the game clock.
On the other hand, if everyone is focused on the game instead of being social, then they complete their turns quickly.
Since hardly any minutes are added to the clock, they’re able to play efficiently.
As such, they’ll have a shorter game of bowling.
The amount of focus that a group has on the game can determine how long it lasts.
4. Number Of Strikes
If the people playing the game are professionals or just very good at the game, then that can also impact how long the game lasts.
Usually, a player gets two chances to take down as many pins as they can with the bowling ball.
For passive players and hobbyists, it’s rare to bowl a strike.
As such, they usually end up with two turns.
This adds time to the game because they have to wait for their ball to return through the conveyor.
The next turn doesn’t begin until the person has taken both turns.
This changes, however, if the player gets a strike.
A strike is when the player manages to use the bowling ball to knock down every pin in a single attempt.
They don’t get a second turn because they’ve already knocked all the pins down.
If the group playing the game has a lot of players who tend to hit strikes often, then the game is going to go faster.
That’s because the number of attempts decreases by one each time.
Each round occurs faster since the players only need one turn to knock all the pins down.
As such, the overall game takes a shorter amount of time to play.
The number of strikes all the players get can decrease the amount of time it takes to bowl.
While most games occur without any problems, there are moments when the alley might malfunction.
The machines responsible for placing the pins might break down.
The ball return may face a problem and refuse to spit out your bowling ball.
A bowling ball might even get stuck in the gutter.
Whenever a problem occurs, it takes time for the game to resume.
For one, you need to get one of the employees to help you.
Since bowling alleys are either extremely busy or dead, it could take a long time for someone to come to your assistance or no time at all.
The amount of time it takes to get your lane up and running again also depends on the complexity of the problem.
If it’s a big problem, then you may have to go to a new lane.
If all the lanes are currently in use, then you’ll need to wait even longer for someone to leave to complete your game.
If the problem is easy, then you’ll be able to get back to the game in no time.
Malfunctions that occur on your lane can add more time to your game.
Bowling isn’t usually the only type of game offered at bowling alleys.
They also tend to have many other arcade games.
Whether it’s a Mortal Kombat arcade game or a basketball hoop arcade game, some alleys can provide several forms of different entertainment.
This can impact how long your game lasts if you take part in these other distractions.
Bowling alleys offer arcade games because it helps them generate money.
Players have to spend quarters or other updated versions of payment to play the arcade game.
The more they spend on the game, the more money the bowling alley earns.
Not all bowling alleys offer prizes for ticket exchanges.
This means they’re able to just get the money out of the machine without subtracting costs.
It’s an ideal way for struggling bowling alleys to earn extra money.
For players, it means another way to entertain themselves while bowling.
If the party decides to take a break from bowling, then they might spend some time in the arcade section.
Since not every alley has a separate seating area for this section, it’s common for players to pause their bowling game just to play in the arcade section.
That way they don’t lose out on their table and chairs.
The longer that a party spends in the arcade, the longer their bowling game will take because no one is bowling.
Most bowling alleys have rules about neglecting your game for too long, but even if you spend a few minutes in the arcade section, that’s a few more minutes added to your bowling game.
Is It Worth Paying For One Game Of Bowling?
Because one game of bowling can last as little as 20 minutes, you may wonder if it’s worth paying for a single game.
Is it a better idea to pay for two or more games?
That answer depends on the number of players involved and the purpose of the game.
For example, if you have a large number of players and you’re there to socialize and spend time together, then one game is likely going to be worth it.
That’s because the game is likely going to last a long time.
Depending on how many players you have, you can get a good hour to three hours out of one game.
It depends on how focused you are on playing and if the group is going to pause to eat food.
However, if the group is small and focused on the game, then it’s likely worth paying for two games.
That’s because it’s going to take less time to get through everyone’s turn.
The game will likely only last from a half-hour to an hour if everyone is focused on the game and is ready to play when it’s their turn.
If you want to play longer than a half-hour or hour, then it may be worth paying for a second game, too.
Finally, if you’re on your own, then it’s up to you.
If you know that you want to bowl for some time, then you’ll want to pay for two or three games.
That’s because, as the only player, the game is going to go by quickly.
You can also choose to extend your playing time by eating food or playing in the arcade.
If you want to make the trip worth it, however, then you should expect to pay for two or three games.
Can You Pay By Game Or Rent By The Hour At A Bowling Alley?
One way that you can save some money is by determining if the alley has a pay-by-game or rent-by-hour policy.
Some have both.
Pay-by-game is the traditional way to pay to bowl.
You pay for the number of games that you want to play, then go to your lane and start playing.
Rent-by-hour is another option that some alleys offer.
This allows you to rent the lane by the hour.
Renting by the hour is a better solution for single players.
This allows them to get through many games without having to pay for each one.
For players who are fast and skilled, paying per game can become expensive quickly if they happen to get through games fast.
By renting the lane by the hour, they can save money.
However, for groups of bowlers looking to play socially, paying by the game is usually the better option.
You’re able to spend a lot of time in the alley before your first game is even over.
Since it takes longer for larger groups to complete a game, you don’t want to pay for a second game only for everyone to be too tired or bored of playing more.
Paying by the game is a better option for larger groups.
For smaller groups of two or three players, you can also benefit by renting by the hour.
That’s because smaller groups also tend to finish a game faster than larger groups.
At most, you can usually get two or three games in a single hour with such a group.
Renting by the hour can usually help you save money in this way.
However, it all comes down to your skill level, your focus, and how many players are in your group.
Can You Reserve Lanes?
When planning your bowling party, you may wonder if you can reserve a lane.
The answer ultimately depends on the bowling alley in question, but in most cases, they do allow reservations for specific reasons.
In particular, they allow reservations of lanes for birthday parties and large group events.
For regular bowlers, however, they don’t allow reservations.
They use the first-come-first-serve policy instead.
When you reserve a lane for a birthday party, you can usually do so for a set number of hours rather than games.
When you reach the end of your scheduled time, you’re expected to leave.
This is usually because they have another birthday party or group event scheduled after your lane.
For group events, it’s usually the same case.
You pay for access to a specific lane for a certain number of hours.
Once that time is over, you’re expected to leave even if you haven’t finished the current game.
That’s because you paid by the hour and not per game.
For everyone else, you can see if the alley allows you to pay per game or per hour.
Playing a single bowling game can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as three hours.
Several variables can increase or decrease the amount of time you take to play a game.
Knowing how many players you have, their level of skill, and whether it’s a social or competitive game can also help you determine whether you should pay per game or by the hour.NEXT: What Is A Strike In Bowling? (Explained)