Bowling Etiquette

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What Is Bowling Etiquette?

Bowling Etiquette - Courtresy of Bowl.comThere are many unwritten rules in any sport. Of these unwritten rules in bowling, the following rule stands out above all the rest:

    Yield to the bowler to your right if you’re both up at the same time.
    Do not step onto your approach until the other bowlers on adjacent lanes have stepped off theirs.
    Make sure you have no bowler on either side of you before you get ready to bowl.

Now it is no longer unwritten!

This article is about that rule that is standard for experienced bowlers and virtually unknown to inexperienced bowlers. This rule is not hard coded into the bowling activity like having to wear bowling shoes or not being loud and obnoxious, or even “sagging” – (The wearing of pants that are below the waist and/or showing underwear, which is being outlawed at some bowling alleys). In some lanes this “rule” is posted in plain view but most inexperienced bowlers pay no attention to it. Same with the reaction when bowling. An experienced bowler will try at first to let the inexperienced bowler know that there is etiquette. Most of the time this will be ignored. This infuriates and frustrates the experienced bowler to no end. Yes, IT IS RUDE! The inexperienced bowler almost always thinks its the experienced bowler is being rude when really it’s the reverse.


First is the option to try and explain, tactfully and respectfully, to the inexperienced bowler that there is bowling etiquette and what to do. This seldom works, no matter how tactful and respectful the experienced bowler is, that inexperienced bowler seems never to care. Both parties wind up frustrated, sometimes, angry.

Second, go to the management. They will many times send one of the workers to “talk to the offending party” and try and let them know about bowling etiquette. This also is a low luck venture.

Third and best is to ask the management to move you to another lane, spaced away from the next bowler or adjacent to experienced bowlers.

When all else fails, just leave the facility altogether. Find out when there are times when less inexperienced bowlers frequent that facility, or go to one that caters more to experienced bowlers.

An extreme example of what can happen around inexperienced bowlers was once while bowling next to a family with small children, a toddler was allowed to run across the approach lanes. I was in the middle of my approach, just coming out of the backswing when I saw the baby coming. That forced me to try and stop the motion of the ball. This made me have to somersault over the kid and out onto the lane, into the oil, almost pulling my shoulder out of socket – painful at best. No I did not touch the baby! I was scraped up off the lane by employees and bystanders but the family never apologized or thanked me for not plowing their baby or hitting him with the 15 pound ball! I had management move me to another lane.
[whohit]Bowling Etiquette[/whohit]

4 Responses

  1. Michael

    When I was a child, smoking was aloud. I am so happy that liberty has been banned from bowling centers.
    When I was a child, I do not remember hearing a lot of curse words. Now that I am a grownup, I always hear a lot of curse words in centers with children everywhere. I wish I could visit a center without having to hear all of the bad words. Please help.

    • Strikes Rule

      A lot of people are happier, healthier with smoking gone. It’s been a long, hard, road getting rid of it though. We can even see signs asking not to smoke within certain distances of doorways or even on premises.

      As for language – this is an opinion – I THINK it’s a matter of self respect. I’m a rough talker at heart. I can curse every other word. I DON’T!

      Most bowling centers are quite responsive to complaints of any disorderly conduct.

      Hope this helps.

      Please feel free to use our Bowling Alley Rating and commentary systems.

  2. Steve

    The inexperienced “bowler” ruins it for everyone. They are a joke and to even consider them as a bowler is ludicrous and insulting. In most centers, management cares only about the bottom line which of course is money rather than trying to correctly promote the sport. Though I love to bowl in leagues and tournaments, I loathe open bowling with a passion and try and avoid it at all costs, especially these new houses that resemble ones living room and charge $7 a game. That’s not real bowling and it’s rather sad to see what this once great sport has trended to. Oh well, as long as it makes money I guess.

    • Strikes Rule

      Lest we not forget that at one time all of us were inexperienced bowlers.

      “In most centers” implies that you have bowled in over 3000 facilities. We would love to hear more.

      It is good that you avoid open bowling so that folks who do enjoy it don’t have to be around such negativism. Thank you for that.

      These “new houses” you say are charging $7/game are not regular bowling alleys, but are entertainment centers, not specializing in bowling alone.

      And please enlighten us as to just what you think “real bowling” is.

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