Bowling has been a staple of human culture for centuries.
One can trace its origins back to ancient Egypt.
Although the rules have changed over the centuries to what is modern-day bowling, the game itself is one of the oldest in human history.
The goal of bowling is to hit all the pins at the opposite end of a lane.
You get two opportunities to do so before your turn is over.
The number of pins that you knock down awards you a set number of points.
You may wonder after a session of bowling if your score was good or poor.
Here’s what you need to know about bowling and what makes for a good bowling score.
What’s A Good Bowling Score?
For a professional bowler, a good bowling score is between 230 and 270 points.
A perfect bowling score is 300 points.
However, rolling a perfect game to achieve 300 points is extremely rare.
Even professionals struggle to achieve such a feat.
That’s because there are tons of different variables that a bowler can’t control which can impact the game.
If you’re an average bowler, then a good score rests somewhere around 100 and 150 points.
For a beginner, a good score is between 50 and 70 points.
What Variables Impact How Well You Score In Bowling?
Bowling seems easy enough.
You have a ball, and you hurl it down a lane to strike pins at the back.
However, after a quick game of bowling, you’ll quickly realize that it isn’t as easy as it seems.
There are a few things that can impact even a professional’s performance.
Here are some variables that can impact a bowling score.
1. Weight Of The Ball
One of the things that can impact how much or how little you score is the weight of your bowling ball.
Professionals use their own bowling balls that are of a weight that they prefer to use.
Some leagues may also issue certain weights of balls to ensure everyone is using the same equipment.
This can prevent cheating or give one player an edge over another.
When you’re simply bowling outside of a league, however, you’re usually subject to picking a bowling ball that the alley provides.
Depending on the alley, you may have basic black bowling balls or ones with pretty colors.
The younger bowlers will likely gravitate to the prettier bowling balls regardless of their weight.
However, weight is an important part of bowling.
Heavier balls are harder to throw, but they also generate a harder impact on the pins.
You may also find that they tend to stay on track better than lighter balls since it takes more resistance to alter their path.
The problem with heavier bowling balls is that they’re difficult to use.
You need a good amount of strength to throw it down the lane.
This problem becomes worse as the game progresses.
Your arm and wrist become tired.
Enough fatigue can start to impact your performance.
Lighter balls might be a better alternative for some bowlers.
However, they don’t hit the pins as well and can drift along the lane.
While you may not be as tired by using a lighter ball, you will have to overcompensate to correct the problems that the lighter bowling ball gives.
Your game can fluctuate drastically depending on the weight of the ball that you choose.
2. Surface Of The Bowling Ball
Besides the weight of the ball, another important factor is the ball’s surface.
Older bowling balls may not be the best to use.
Over time, they can start to develop dents that impact how well they roll.
You might aim the ball one way, but because of the dent, it ends up going another direction.
Since you never know how the ball is going to land, it’s impossible to correct your throw to avoid the dent.
This is also why professionals like to use their own bowling balls or why leagues provide them.
It ensures that each bowling ball is in good condition and won’t impact performance.
When bowling outside of leagues, you’re subject to the alley’s bowling balls.
Some alleys take care of their bowling balls and invest in new ones when their older ones start to dent or chip.
Other alleys that don’t have much of a budget have to hold onto their older bowling balls for as long as possible.
Because of that, you’ll find lots of balls with dents and chips in them.
It can be difficult to grow as a bowler when you’re working with damaged equipment.
If your bowling ball has a dent or chip in it, then it’s going to impact your bowling score.
3. Surface Of Pins
Coinciding with the surface of the bowling ball is the surface of the bowling pins.
Like bowling balls, the pins also start to become damaged with time.
On particularly hard hits, the pins can receive a dent or chip.
This can impact how well they sit on the floor.
It might mean that they’re easier or even harder to tip over.
Even if you bowl perfectly, you may face a pin that refuses to go down because a dent has it leaning a certain way.
Your score will alter because of the damaged pin.
Like bowling balls, not all alleys have the budget to regularly change out their pins when they become damaged.
The worst part is because you’re not allowed to walk down a lane in most alleys, you won’t even be able to tell if a pin has a dent or chip.
They’re too far away to see.
If the pin has some form of damage, then your bowling score may either increase or decrease as a result.
4. State Of The Lane
Another factor that can influence your bowling score is the state of the lane that you’re using.
In bowling, a lane is a hard strip of wood that you toss the ball down.
The ball travels down the lane and strikes the pins at the back.
Because lanes see a lot of abuse, they’re also subject to dents, chips, and other damage.
The problem with damage is that it can completely change the direction of a ball.
If an alley has a dent, then the ball can hit the dent and roll in a different direction.
The same goes for a chip.
The slightest imperfection can alter the ball’s spin and make it go elsewhere.
You may find yourself in a situation in which you rolled the ball down the middle, but a sudden dent made the ball go into a gutter instead.
Besides the floor’s condition, lanes also use mineral oil.
The oil helps perfect surface tension on the lane and contributes to the lane’s health.
However, as balls pass down the lane, they pick up the oil and remove it.
This impacts how the game progresses.
Professionals call the oil on lanes “lane dressing.”
When their ball starts to struggle because of the lack of oil, they call it “carry down.”
That’s because the previous bowling balls have carried down the oil across the lane.
The oil is no longer spread evenly across it.
That’s why some of the best bowling occurs in the morning after the alley owners have spread oil on the lanes.
Since they’re busy taking care of customers during normal business hours, they aren’t always able to re-oil the lanes during the day.
A bowler who comes in at the end of the day is going to bowl on lanes with hardly any oil left on them.
Of course, that isn’t always the case.
Since the mineral oil also protects the lane, many alley owners will try to keep their lanes oiled throughout the day.
They’ll even shut the lanes down for a brief period to oil them.
There are also several patterns that the alley will use when spreading the oil on the lane.
The most popular pattern is the House Pattern.
This type of pattern requires the worker to spread most of the oil in the middle of the lane and less on the sides.
By the time the oil reaches the gutter, it doesn’t exist.
Once bowlers start to use the lane and their balls spread the oil around, it helps move the oil around the lane more.
Depending on the state of the lane, it could impact your performance substantially.
If you want to ensure you get the best results, then you should consider bowling in the morning or asking the alley owner when they oil the lanes.
5. Bowling Shoes
Another variable that can impact your performance is your bowling shoes.
When you’re a beginner, you likely don’t own a pair of bowling shoes.
Most alleys require the use of bowling shoes when bowling because the shoes are clean and gentle on the floor.
Using sneakers or other types of shoes on the bowling floor can ruin the wood or leave skid marks behind.
Bowling shoes come in a variety of shoe sizes, but the availability of them depends on how busy the alley is.
If the alley is very busy, then you may discover that all the shoes in your specific size are out.
This means that you’ll need to use shoes a size smaller or larger than what you’re used to.
As a result, your performance is worse because you’re either sliding around in your shoes when you move or you’re in pain because they’re too tight.
As a bowler, you need to have a firm connection to the ground.
It helps you use your strength to roll the ball down the alley.
If you’re unable to get a good grip on the floor, then you may not be able to deliver much power behind the ball.
You may not be able to ground the direction in which you want to roll the ball either.
That’s why professionals and experienced amateurs will purchase their own bowling shoes.
It ensures that they have a pair of shoes that fits their feet perfectly.
They’re able to get a good grip on the floor which allows them to use their full strength to throw the ball and ensure it goes in the direction that they want.
Having the right shoes can seriously impact how many points you earn in bowling.
A final thing that can impact your bowling score is the number of distractions around you.
In a professional league, there are few distractions.
It’s a far more serious game where people tend to be quiet to allow the bowler all the concentration they need.
This is a stark difference from the average bowling lane that you go to recreationally.
There are tons of noises and activities going on in a bowling alley.
From birthday parties to arcade games, there are flashing lights, shouting, and laughter that can distract you from your game.
Most alleys also play loud music to keep the area lively and fun.
For people who are trying to do their best to bowl, however, these distractions can be a nuisance.
It’s even worse when there are children on the loose and running all over the place.
They may cut across you just as you’re about to throw your ball.
With as many distractions that exist in a bowling alley, your concentration faces a challenge.
Without proper concentration, you may find you’re unable to score as well as you could otherwise.
Distractions definitely impact your performance and bowling score.
How Hard Is It To Bowl A Perfect Game?
A perfect game in a bowling match requires rolling a strike on every round, which is called a frame.
A strike refers to a situation in which you roll the ball once and knock every pin down without leaving any standing.
You have to do this for all 10 frames of the game.
There are also 10 pins to knock down, each pin being worth one point.
A strike is worth 10 points plus double the points on your next two rolls.
When you score a strike in the 10th frame, then you get two additional rolls for that last frame.
If you manage to score a strike in every frame, including those two bonus rolls in the 10th, your total score is 300.
It’s the maximum number of points that you can score.
Back in the early days of bowling, this was incredibly hard.
Only a handful of people ever managed to accomplish the task.
Over time, however, as bowling ball technology and different types of lane oils have advanced, it has become a little easier to bowl a perfect game, though it is still incredibly difficult and rare.
One only needs to look at the statistics to see that this is the case.
In the bowling season of 1968–1969, there were a total of 905 perfect games in all the tournaments and leagues recognized by the American Bowling Congress.
In the season of 1998–1999, that number jumped to 34,470.
Statistically speaking, that’s an increase of 3,700%.
Part of the reason perfect games have increased has to do with the advancements in the design and materials of the bowling ball.
Back in the ’60s, bowling balls were primarily made out of rubber or plastic.
These days, they’re made out of different materials all mixed together to create a ball that provides incredible traction and friction.
The exact chemical makeup of bowling balls is a secret since bowling ball manufacturers are trying to get an edge over one another with their recipes.
The result is a ball that’s easier to handle on the lane.
From there, the only thing a bowler needs to worry about it is their own techniques.
They can increase their skills through practice.
Without the bowling ball to handicap them, their chances of rolling a perfect game increase.
The best possible outcome that a bowler can receive is a perfect game with a score of 300 points.
However, most professionals tend to average between 200 and 270 points.
Beginners are lucky if they can earn around 50 to 70 points.
Intermediates are somewhere in between with an average of 100 to 150 points.
There are various aspects that can influence how well someone performs, but thanks to advances in bowling ball manufacturing, it has allowed more people to increase their skills and roll a perfect game.