Proper Bowling Etiquette

Every competitive sport in the history of humankind, including bowling, has proposed a set of rules and regulations to be played fairly. But some specific rules and regulations are not mandatory, yet they make the game experience incredibly respectful and wholesome – these rules fall under game etiquette.

You might be wondering, what is Proper Bowling Etiquette, and how do I follow it? Well, that is precisely what I am here to tell you.

In this article, I will talk about proper bowling etiquette, the dos and don’ts of bowling, and a few tips on how to improve your overall bowling etiquette. So, make sure you read this article till the very end so you can play the game properly and respectfully.

Proper Bowling Etiquette

What is Proper Bowling Etiquette?

Proper bowling etiquettes are the manners and doings you adopt while bowling to respect your opponents and team players.

Like every other game, there are ways you can make the game of ten-pin bowling incredibly respectful and gentlemanly for your opposition in a way that they would respect and admire.

Bowling etiquette is something that is expected from professional players. However, just knowing how to score points and knock all the pins is not all pros need to know.

If you know how to get strikes and spares, but you are unsure when to yield, when to take a shot, not to run in a bowling alley, shout at another player, and many other things, you will not be considered a good bowler.

But one thing to know is that if you are a beginner and have recently started bowling, you do not need to worry about etiquette, as no one would expect you to know everything immediately.

You can take your time and slowly learn about all the essential dos and don’ts of proper bowling etiquette to become a true professional bowler.

Bowling Etiquettes: Do’s and Don’ts

Bowling Etiquette provides you with a list of some of the major positives and negatives regarding actions when bowling with someone. Let us take about some of the Dos and Don’ts of Bowling Etiquette to understand bowling culture and how to respect our opponents while playing with them.

Do: Return Equipment to Right Place

Whenever you are going bowling with your friends and family or in a tournament, you need to make sure the following; Once you have used the equipment like bowling gloves, shoes, and house ball, you return all these things and others to the alley management and storage counter instead of leaving them on the alley floor.

Don’t: Use Someone Else’s Equipment without asking

This is one of the most crucial things you need to consider. Do not use someone’s equipment, bowling ball, or anything without first asking them. You need to ask their permission, and you can use it if they allow you to use it. However, it would help if you tried to have spare equipment for your games.

Do: Be Polite to Bowlers

Bowling is a game of happiness and warmth. The game can feel tame and rude if you are not always happy and smiling. So, ensure you are always polite to other bowlers because that will be extremely necessary if you want to have a good time.

Don’t: Talk Smack to Opponents

Having a little friendly banter is fun and exciting. However, if the banter exceeds being fun to aggravated, ensure you do not smack your opponents too much and heat things. Bowling alleys and bowlers do not like this and try to keep their banters up by throwing bowling balls and scoring points.

Do: Have fun in the name of competition

If you are passionate about bowling, you will have an incredible time playing it. So try to make sure you’re enjoying the game of bowling when you’re involved in it. Be competitive, but at the same time, try to enjoy every moment of the game.

Don’t: Lose Your Cool

One thing that you need to avoid when you are bowling with friends and family is raging. Sometimes you might not be in your element and perform well. Please do not lose your cool, and do not shout at your fellow bowlers as it is never suggested, and it seems ungentlemanly.

Do: Wear Socks

As a bowler, you must ensure you are utilizing all the equipment you need. That includes bowling socks. You might get blisters or smelly feet if you wear bowling shoes without socks. And we all know smelly feet are not something that etiquette teaches us.

Did you know this? Are Bowling Shoes Required to Play Bowling?

Don’t: Crowd the Lane

Once you have thrown the bowling ball, you do not need to linger around the bowling lane for too long; this can hinder the experience of the other players and make you look like a bad sport. Make sure you leave the lane alone and go and sit on the chairs at the back once you have thrown your ball.

Want to read about how to properly throw the ball? Read this article: How to Throw a Bowling Ball.

Bowling Etiquette: Who Goes First?

A question that has been asked quite often is when two bowlers on adjacent lanes are ready to bowl simultaneously, which should yield and let the other throw first? Well, here is the answer.

In such a case, the left lane player should yield and let the right lane player complete their shot; once their shot is completed, the left lane player can take their shot.

This is to provide excessive space to the thrower on each side in their respective turns. It does not mean prioritizing any particular player, just common courtesy.

Bowling Etiquette: When a Team Player is missing

If a single team player is missing in a game, the team with a single player still has a chance to play and win. So what happens is that the team with fewer players rotates and takes turns to fill out the empty player’s spot, and the cycle continues until all the frames are completed.

Another question I am often asked is what happens when one team has four bowlers and the other two. In pro bowling, if such a situation exists, the team with two missing players is ineligible to compete, and therefore the game does not occur.

Tips for Better Bowling Etiquette

Just by using basic bowling etiquette, you can make a world of difference in your bowling experience and the experience of others with you, but there are a few tips that you can use to take your bowling etiquette to another level; let us take a look at these tips:

Keep Food and Beverages Away

Food and Drinks are the new norms for bowling alleys and even proper bowling leagues. However, keeping food away from the bowling lanes is best. Bringing food to the lane can disrespect your opponent and the game itself, so it must be avoided.

Respect Your Opponent

Whether you are a bowler or a swordsman, respecting your opponent is necessary. Ensure that you respect your opponent no matter their skill level to give them a sense of appreciation and encouragement, which may help them improve their game and improve at the sport.

Stay away from foul-committing

Fouls are a prevalent thing in bowling. If you are new to bowling, you must know to avoid committing fouls. Be it a gutter ball or overstepping the foul line, make sure you learn not to commit fouls and be respectful to the game when you are playing it.

Read more about fouls here: What Constitutes a Foul in Bowling?

Be focused on your game

Bowling requires incredible concentration when you are bowling against top-notch bowlers. So a tip for better bowling etiquette would be to give your all to the game, focus entirely on the arrows, and give you all to win the game completely. That should be your goal when playing ten-pin bowling or any other variation.

Don’t be a sore loser

Winning and losing is a part of every game. Although you should always aim to win a game and give your all to it, you should never be a sore loser. Loss is what teaches us to be better and win the next time. So, make sure you do not put up a rude face when you lose and take losses like a champ!


Every game and sport has some rules and playing etiquette to follow. The game is not considered fair play if these rules are not followed. Bowling etiquette is essential if you want to be successful in bowling, create friends in the bowling circuit, and be known as one of the best to play the game.

I hope you learned a lot from this article and that you will employ these bowling etiquettes and mannerisms in your everyday bowling experience and give your opponents something to cherish. Have an incredibly fantastic bowling experience!

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