When you think of bowling, you often think of the famous strike.
Nothing is more exciting to both hobbyists and professionals than a strike.
That said, if you’re new to bowling, then you may be unsure what counts as a strike or how it impacts your score.
Here’s everything you need to know about a strike in bowling.
What Is A Strike In Bowling?
A strike is when a player knocks down all the pins with their bowling ball on their first attempt.
It does not count as a strike if someone hits the rest of their pins on their second attempt.
That’s a spare.
In bowling, each player gets two turns to knock the pins down.
When they have completed their turns, this ends a frame.
They then go to the next frame when it’s their turn again.
As an example of the difference between a strike and a spare, let’s consider the following instance.
Player A takes their first turn.
They roll the ball down the alley and knock all 10 pins down.
They’ve earned a strike and get the maximum number of points that they can get on their turn.
Player B takes their first turn after Player A.
They roll the ball on their first attempt and knock down seven pins.
There are three pins still left standing.
They roll the ball on their second turn and knock down the three remaining pins.
Although all the pins are down, it took two turns for Player B to get them down.
As a result, they earned a spare and not a strike.
Strikes are better than spares because the player gets to add the points they earn in their next two turns to their strike score.
This is a great way to earn lots of points and pull ahead on the leaderboard.
How Do You Calculate A Strike In Bowling?
While most machines will handle all the math for you at a bowling alley, you may want to understand where they’re getting their numbers from.
When you get a strike, you automatically get 10 points.
That’s because each pin represents a single point.
The number of pins that you knock down is the number of points that you’ve earned for that frame.
The great thing about a strike is that you also get to add the points you earn in your next two turns to that specific frame.
As an example, the game is in Frame 2.
Player A scored a strike.
They now have 10 points for Frame 2.
When their turn arrives for Frame 3, they take their first turn and hit five pins.
On their second turn for Frame 3, they knock four pins down.
Those nine points are added to Frame 2 since they got a strike.
That makes their Frame 2 total 10 + 5 + 4 = 19.
The pins they hit for Frame 3 are still counted for that frame as well.
For Frame 3, their total is 5 + 4 = 9.
That means their total number of points for those two frames is 28.
If they were to continue rolling strikes, then they could continue to get points added to each of their previous frames.
That’s how professional bowlers can reach points as high as 200 and 300.
What Is The Maximum Number Of Points You Can Earn In Bowling?
The total number of points that a player can earn in bowling is 300.
This can only occur when someone bowls a perfect game.
A perfect game is when someone bowls a strike in all 10 frames of the game.
Some tournaments do a 900-point game.
Like the 300-point game, the player will have to get all strikes to reach that maximum level.
This isn’t the easiest thing to do since any one thing could upset a ball’s path down the lane.
Even a perfectly thrown bowling ball might encounter an imperfection on the lane which could send it in a slightly different direction.
All it takes is one minor flaw or change in direction for a player to miss out on a strike and earn 300 points.
What Is The Symbol For A Strike?
There’s a specific symbol that will show up on your screen when you get a strike.
Some bowling alleys make a big deal out of it and blow it up on the screen.
Either way, when you score a strike, you should see an “X” symbol on that frame.
This represents the fact that you got a strike.
It may tell you your points or it may just have an X on it.
How Do You Get 300 Points From Strikes In Bowling?
You may have some confusion over how you get 300 points from throwing all strikes.
In a typical game of bowling, you get 20 turns.
That’s two rounds per frame.
If you score a strike, then you might think that you only get 10 turns since you knocked them all down in one attempt.
That isn’t the case.
You actually get 12 turns if you roll all strikes during a game.
That’s because you still get two extra rolls after your final strike in Frame 10.
If you manage to get two strikes on those bonus rolls, then it comes out to 300 points.
In the bowling world, this situation is called a Perfect Game.
For all bowling professionals, it’s a constant goal to achieve.
Being able to have a Perfect Game during a tournament usually means you’re the one going home with the trophy.
However, rolling a Perfect Game isn’t easy.
What Are The Nicknames For A Strike?
While you may shout out that you got a strike, there are several nicknames that other bowlers might use to describe your particular flavor of a strike.
Here are some popular nicknames for strikes.
While a single strike is usually just called a strike, if you manage to get two strikes in a row, they call it a double.
While getting a strike isn’t the most difficult thing, even beginners can do it, getting a double strike is a bit more complicated.
2. Turkey Or Triple
If you manage to get three strikes in a row, then you have earned yourself a turkey.
Some traditionalists also call it a triple.
3. Four-Bagger Or Hambone
Things start to become crazy once you get the fourth strike in a row.
Four strikes in a row is a four-bagger or hambone.
4. Yahtzee Or Five-Bagger
You may hear a bowler shout, “Yahtzee!” when they manage to get the fifth strike in a row.
Some also call it a five-bagger.
5. Six Pack Or Six-Bagger
Six-packs don’t belong just on bodies or in a cooler.
When a bowler manages to get six strikes in a row, then they’ve earned a six-pack or six-bagger strike.
6. Front Seven Or Seven-Bagger
While some bowlers may prefer to use the traditional term of seven-bagger, others also use front seven.
Both describe someone getting the seventh strike in a row.
7. Front Eight Or Eight-Bagger
The nicknames start to become a little repetitive after the seventh strike in the row.
If someone manages to get the eighth strike in a row, then they got a front eight or eight-bagger.
8. Front Nine Or Nine-Bagger
Similarly, if someone strikes nine times in a row, then they have a front nine or nine-bagger.
9. Front Ten Or Ten Bagger
Some bowlers might think they’re done after getting 10 strikes in a row.
However, this is when things start to get interesting.
A player who gets 10 strikes in a row has a front ten or a ten-bagger.
10. Front Eleven Or Eleven Bagger
The player is on the verge of getting 12/12 strikes once they strike for the 11th time in a row.
The 11th strike in a row is a front eleven or eleven bagger.
11. 300 Or Perfect Game
If a bowler manages to bowl 12/12 strikes in a game, then they’ve earned 300 points.
They call the 12th strike a 300 or a Perfect Game.
How To Increase Your Chances Of Getting A Strike
Whether you want to start playing competitively or show your friends up, knowing how to increase your chances of getting a strike is important.
Luckily, there are a few tips you can use to help improve your skills and earn more strikes.
Here are some of the tips that can help increase your chances of getting a strike in bowling.
1. Practice Footwork
One of the most important elements of bowling is the correct footwork.
How you approach the lane and where you stand can influence how well you can guide and roll the ball.
If you don’t have your footwork down, then you might trip, make an incorrect step, or even hold yourself in such a way that sends the ball in a different direction.
Having the right approach and stance can help you get enough power behind your swing to send the ball down the lane.
Following through with your roll is also important.
It ensures that the ball gets enough momentum while ensuring that you don’t overextend your body.
Since you’re using your arm and wrist a lot for the game, it’s going to wear out quickly.
Wrists are some of the most delicate parts of the body.
Since bowling involves the use of the wrist, if you injure it by messing up your footwork or locking up, then you’re going to have a serious problem bowling the rest of the game.
By practicing your footwork and finding the right approach and stance that works for you, you can lock in your strikes.
2. Understand Oil Patterns
If you’ve ever been to an alley before, then you’ve seen how shiny the lanes are.
That’s because they’re covered in oil.
The oil serves two purposes.
It helps protect the wood from the abuse given to it by the bowling ball.
It also helps players get the most momentum and “hook” out of their ball.
Without oil, a bowling ball wouldn’t have as much ease in reaching the end of the lane.
It would likely stop before it reached the pins unless someone rolled it really hard.
The oil reduces the friction on the ball and lets it reach the pins with ease.
However, too much oil can make it difficult to direct the ball down the lane.
Too little can also make it difficult to control the ball since it tends to stick to the floor too well.
That means players need to understand the specific oil pattern on the lane.
This allows them to roll the ball in an area that has a light amount of oil on it.
Not every bowling alley uses the same oil pattern.
Even tournaments have specific patterns that they use.
If you want to get more strikes, then you need to understand oil patterns and how they affect your ball.
Once you make those connections, you’ll understand where you need to roll the ball to get the most control on it and send it to the pins.
3. Limit Distractions
You can’t improve your skills if you’re distracted.
There are tons of distractions at a bowling alley: friends, music, other players.
If you want to improve your skills and increase your chances of getting strikes, then you need to find a way to tune them all out.
That might mean going bowling on your own.
It might mean bringing headphones and listening to your own music to block everyone else out.
However you need to limit distractions, you should do it.
It’s even worth recording yourself to see how you’re moving and what your footwork looks like.
That way, you can review the video in a quieter area and find mistakes that you’re making.
You can then correct those mistakes the next time you play the game.
4. Choose The Perfect Ball
The weight of the bowling ball that you choose is also important.
A common mistake that beginners make is thinking that the heaviest ball is going to do the most damage to the pins.
While it will certainly hit them hard, it won’t send them flying into other pins.
That’s what you want when you’re going for a strike.
A single ball isn’t enough to hit all 10 pins.
You need collateral damage to knock the rest of the pins down.
The problem with using a heavy ball is that it tends to send the balls in an upward direction rather than scattering around.
That isn’t going to help you get a strike.
A lighter ball, on the other hand, has a better chance of hitting pins to the side and knocking over others.
Another reason you should use a lighter ball is that a heavier ball is going to tire you out faster.
This can impact your game because as you grow tired, you’re unable to control and direct the ball as well.
It also affects your ability to efficiently release the ball at the perfect time.
If you use the right ball, you can improve your chances of getting a strike.
5. Don’t Aim For The Middle Pin
Another common mistake that players make is to try and aim for the middle pin when attempting to get a strike.
In a way, this makes sense since it’s easy to think that by hitting the pins in the middle, you’ll get the most collateral damage.
That isn’t the case, however.
You actually need to aim for a specific arrow on the lane.
For right-handed bowlers, you need to aim for the arrow on the lane that’s the second from the right.
For left-handed bowlers, you need to aim for the arrow on the lane that’s the second from the left.
By aiming for this arrow and spinning the ball, you’ll curve it towards the middle with a lot of spin.
This helps strike the pins down better and makes them rotate.
As they rotate, they knock the other pins down and get you a satisfying strike.
A strike occurs when you knock every single pin down on a single turn.
It allows you to earn the maximum possible score.
If you manage to roll a strike in each frame, then you earn the coveted Perfect Game score of 300 points.