How to Bowl

Understanding Scoring on the Overhead Monitors

Everyone is thankful for the electronic scoring at the bowling alley. We see our score come on the screen above us, but many of us don’t know how it is determined. Hopefully the following explanation will clear up this mystery.

And here at Bundoran Glowbowl, we like to keep up with technology and make things easier for our customers. In July this year (2022), we installed the very latest Brunswick Sync Scoring System and this brings unbelievable graphics for the Bowler and ease of play in understanding the Overhead Screens and adding a little fun for the Player.

Bundoran Glowbowl Pin Pals - Overhead Monitors
Pinpals Graphics – Glowbowl has 40 inch Flat Screen Score Monitors above each Lane

The score board for a bowling game has TEN FRAMES.

During each frame, the player gets TWO TRIES to knock down all of the ten pins. The number knocked down is recorded: 

In this frame, the player knocked down 5 pins with the first ball and 4 pins with the second. His score for this frame is therefore 9, the sum of 5 and 4.

You also should note that the score of a single frame is dependent upon the score of the frame before it. For example, the score in the second frame below is 13 because you must add the 5 pins from the first frame to the 8 from the second.


A strike is when a player knocks down all ten pins on the first ball of a frame. The score for this frame is 10 plus the number of pins scored by the next two balls. In the following example, the score of frame 1 is 18 (10+3+5), and the score for frame 2 is 26 (18+3+5):


A spare is when a player knocks down all ten pins using two balls. The score for this frame is 10 plus the number of pins scored by the first ball of the next frame. In the following example, the score of frame 1 is 14 (10+4), and the score for frame 2 is 20 (14+4+2):

Bowling explained

The bowler can have up to two attempts at knocking down a set of ten pins. Any that are knocked down at the first attempt are removed and the bowler tries to knock down the remainder. Knocking all of the pins down with the first ball is called a ‘strike’, and knocking down all the remaining pins on the second go is called a ‘spare’.

A game of bowling consists of ten frames, and the maximum you can score is 300 points.

Frames 1 to 9 are identical in their scoring, and then you come to the tenth and final frame. On the overhead monitor this looks different from the others, as it has an extra space. This is to allow the bonuses to be put in if the player scores a strike or a spare in this frame. If you get a strike with your first ball in the tenth frame, you are allowed two more balls. You could get three strikes in the tenth. You could get a spare in your first two balls; this then means you are allowed one extra ball to get the bonus points for your spare. Of course you may not knock all of the pins down with the first two balls and you get no further bonus goes and your game is finished.

A strike in every frame and two extra strikes in the tenth scores as follows: 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, 240, 270 and 300 giving the maximum score. Strangely enough a strike alternating with a spare throughout the game gives a score of 200.

Bowling Technique

You will notice lots of dots and arrows marking the floor, with dots on the approach and arrows on the lane. These are to help you position yourself as you bowl. Before you start, walk up to the black line, called the ‘Foul Line’, that marks the beginning of the lane.

  1. Turn your back to the pins and take three reasonable paces.
  2. Now look down at your feet and note how you are positioned in relation to the dots on the floor. Use this as a guide for where to start your bowling approach.
  3. Turn the ball over if you cannot see the holes.
  4. Your correctly-sized ball should be measured up like this: put your thumb in the biggest hole and place the rest of your hand flat on the ball.
  5. The thumb hole should be neither too loose nor too tight.
  6. The other two holes should line up with the middle knuckles of your middle two fingers (not the index finger).
  7. Place your thumb and fingers in the ball while it is firmly placed on the stand.
  8. Always pick up the ball with two hands from the stand and take more of the weight in your left hand.
  9. Stand at the position you paced out for yourself earlier on and bring the ball up to your chin so that you are looking at the pins over the top of the ball.
  10. Your thumb should be closest to your face if you have the ball the right way round.
  11.  When you are ready you will push the ball away from yourself in a big arc (don’t let go yet) while you take your first step with your left foot.
  12. As you move forward in your three-step approach the ball swings behind you, you begin to slightly crouch.
  13. Let the ball come back in the same arc and let go as you and the ball arrive at the ‘Foul Line’ simultaneously.
  14. Your left foot (the one opposite to the hand you bowl with) should be in front of you.
  15. The ball should not bounce but glide smoothly down the lane, and if your aim is true hit the ‘pocket’, which is the space between the 1 and 3 pins.
Number of Pins 1 – 10