Bowling Fundamentals: A Guidebook for Beginners By Nichole
            Thomas 4 min read


By Nichole Thomas
3 min read

Do terms like “rev-rate,” “breakpoint,” or “handicap” have you scratching your head? Before diving into the complex language of bowling, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals. This guide will break down the basics, giving you a solid foundation and making it easier to understand the more advanced concepts as you progress. Let’s start by understanding the scoring system.

How Scoring Works

Bowling uses a unique scoring method that might seem complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.

  1. Frame: A game of bowling consists of ten frames. Each frame gives you two opportunities to knock down all ten pins, except for the tenth frame, which can have up to three throws.
  2. Overview: Each pin knocked down is worth one point. If you topple six pins on your first throw and three on your second, you score nine points for that frame.
  3. Strikes: A strike gives you ten points plus the total of your next two throws. For example, if you bowl a strike and then knock down seven pins followed by two more, you score 19 points for that strike frame.
  4. Spares: A spare scores ten points plus the number of pins knocked down with your next throw. So, if you score a spare and then knock down five pins on your next throw, you earn 15 points for that spare frame.


Relying on rental shoes and house balls can slow your progress. Investing in equipment tailored to your needs will greatly enhance your performance and comfort. So, where should you begin?

Choosing the Right Bowling Ball

Picking the right ball involves more than just choosing a color. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Ball Weight: The weight of the ball is crucial. A traditional rule of thumb is to choose a ball that is about 10% of your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, a 15-pound ball is ideal. However, in my experience, that is not always the case. For instance, I can only throw a 13-pound house ball due to the large fingers holes that don’t allow the ball to properly fit my hand. With my personal equipment, I can throw 15 pounds. Ask your Proshop operator to help you in-person to get the most comfortable weight for you.
  • Material: Plastic is great for beginners due to its affordability and ease of control, perfect for straight shots. They are generally the least expensive option. Urethane offers more hook potential than plastic, ideal for those starting to experiment with different throws. Reactive Resin is best for advanced players seeking more hook potential and control, though more expensive.
  • Proper Fit: The finger holes should fit snugly but comfortably. Have a professional at your local Proshop measure your hand and drill the ball to your specific measurements for the best grip and release.

Essential Bowling Accessories

Beyond the ball, there are other essential accessories that every bowler should consider:

  • Bowling Shoes: Proper bowling shoes are non-negotiable. They provide the right amount of slide and grip necessary for a smooth approach and release. Investing in your own pair ensures a better fit and hygiene compared to rentals.
  • Wrist Supports: Useful for beginners who might struggle with wrist stability, helping maintain proper wrist position for consistent throws.
  • Shammy: To remove access oil on the surface of your ball.
  • Shoe Covers: To protect your bowling shoes when off the lanes. It is crucial to avoid stepping in moisture, whether that be from spilled drinks or rainwater trekked in from outside. Never go outside in your bowling shoes without covers on.


Bowling is a social sport, and respecting others on the lanes is crucial. Lane courtesy involves waiting for the bowler next to you to complete their throw before you step onto the approach. Ignoring this can lead to distractions and even accidents.

  • Safety: Avoiding collisions and accidents by waiting your turn.
  • Focus: Preventing distractions for both you and other players.
  • Sportsmanship: Showing respect and fostering camaraderie among bowlers.

Always wait until adjacent bowlers have completed their throws before stepping up to bowl, and keep an eye on the lanes next to you to ensure you're not stepping up at the wrong time. Patience and respect on the lanes create a more enjoyable environment for everyone.


Setting Practice Goals

Practice with purpose by setting clear, realistic goals:

  • Set Clear Objectives: Focus on specific areas like your stance, swing, or release.
  • The One-Step Drill: Stand at the foul line, take one step, and release the ball to work on your release and follow-through.
  • Prioritize Spare Shooting: Strikes are thrilling, but consistent spares keep your scores high. Spend significant time practicing spares and learning to adjust your shots for different pin setups.
  • Set Time-Based Goals: Allocate specific amounts of time to different aspects of your game during practice sessions.

Tracking Your Progress

Keeping track of your scores and improvements can be incredibly motivating. Here are some ways to monitor your progress:

  • Use Bowling Apps: Apps like LaneTalk allow you to record and analyze your scores, track performance, and compare stats with other bowlers. LaneTalk even features Storm’s new WinStorm Tournament, offering a chance to win weekly prizes and benchmark your skills against others.
  • Join a Bowling League: Regular play in a league helps you develop your skills faster. It offers structured practice, competition, and the opportunity to learn from more experienced players. Plus, it's a fantastic way to meet new people and enjoy the social aspect of bowling.


Bowling offers a wonderful mix of fun, exercise, and social interaction. By understanding basic techniques, choosing the right equipment, and practicing regularly, you’re well on your way to mastering the lanes. Embrace every frame as an opportunity to improve, savor the thrill of each strike and spare, and enjoy the journey of becoming a better bowler.