How to Keep Score in a Game of Bowling

While pretty much every bowling alley these days has machines that automatically score the games for you, it’s useful to know the basics of keeping score, just so you have a better idea of what you need to bowl to beat your opponent. Plus, if you’re ever at a lane where the scoring machine is down, you’ll be able to keep score yourself!

Here’s some info from a bowling alley in Hampton, VA about how to keep score in a game of bowling.


Before you know how to work the numbers, it’s important for you to understand how to mark the score sheet.

There are several symbols you’ll need to know. An “X” is the symbol used for a “strike,” in which you’ve knocked down all 10 pins with the first roll in a frame. A “/” is the symbol for a “spare,” in which you knock down all remaining pins on the second roll of a frame. A “-” indicates you did not knock down any pins on a given roll. An “F” indicates a “foul,” in which part of your body went past the foul line. An “O” around a number indicates the pins that were left standing after the first roll were in a “split” formation, though you can also use an “S” before the number to indicate a split formation.

The numbers

Most of the scoring done in a game of bowling involves adding the number of pins knocked down in each frame. However, there are special bonuses you need to know about to accurately account for strikes and spares in your scoring.

If you bowl a strike, you get a score of 10, and then get to add the total of your next two rolls to that frame. If you bowl a spare, you get the 10 pins plus the total number of pins knocked down on the next roll.

So let’s say you roll a strike, and then get a spare in the next round. That would result in you getting 20 points for the frame in which you rolled a strike, because you’d add the 10 for the strike plus the 10 total pins knocked down on the next two rolls. If you roll a spare, then knock down five pins on your next roll, you would get 15 points total for the frame in which you rolled the spare.

This is how the maximum score for a game of bowling is 300. If you roll a strike and then follow that up with two more consecutive strikes, you’d get 30 points for the first frame in which you rolled the strike, because you’d add up the next two rolls (10 each) and combine them to the first for a total of 30. Repeat this over the course of 10 frames, and you get 300 points.

That’s all there is to it! For more information about scoring a game of bowling, or to learn more about local bowling opportunities, contact Sparetimes, a popular bowling alley in Hampton, VA.

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