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Basic Rules of Bowling Etiquette
By Sean Lannin

Most people pick up the sport of bowling for the fun and social atmosphere of the sport. In fact, the majority of bowlers never bowl competitively. Their exposure is limited to a few games with friends a couple of times a year or maybe midnight bowling with the kids.

Knowing the basic rules of bowling and basic bowling etiquette makes the game more enjoyable for everyone. So, whether you play competitively on a team or simply share some laughs once a month with friends and family, take it upon yourself to learn the bowling rules.

Here are a few of the more basic rules of bowling etiquette to get you started:

  1. All bowlers should learn the rules and guidelines of the game and of the bowling alley. Help younger players learn these rules by correcting their mistakes or rewarding them for favorable behavior.
  2. Keep your area neat and clean. Throw food and used drinking bottles in the proper trash receptacle, and don't allow to accumulate. Generally you are not allowed to bring food onto the lanes. Know what rules the bowling alley expects you to follow.
  3. Bowlers should understand who bowls first on the lanes, and be aware when it is their turn. The general rule is that whoever is up first is the first to bowl. Have a sense of the other bowlers next to you and their routines.
  4. A player should always be ready to bowl. Be prepared to take your turn with no unnecessary delays. Once it is your turn move with purpose.
  5. Show respect to other bowlers, your equipment, and the bowling alley at all times. Display proper sportsmanship at all times.
  6. A bowler should use the same ball throughout the game. Do not use a ball that is already being used by another bowler. If you switch balls, return the other ball back to the rack.
  7. Learn to compete with respect. A healthy competition among players leads to an enjoyable event for everyone.

Bowling is a great game that is enjoyed by people of all ages. It is common to see kids of only 4 or 5 years of age, side by side with their grandparents of 70 years old. Bowlers with more experience typically understand the rule and etiquette of better than beginning players, although this is not always the case. Regardless of your level of experience, by learning the basic rules of bowling and the etiquette of the game you will make it more enjoyable for yourself, your family and friends, and your teammates and competitors.

For those in search of the elusive 300 game, you can find more basic rules of bowling and other great information about how to improve your game and increase your scores at

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