Whether you’re playing in a league or playing for fun, there’s a right way and a wrong way to bowl. In general, it is important to treat the bowling center and other bowlers with respect at all times. However, bowling does have some specific, unwritten rules that you should know. Follow the etiquette points listed below every time you bowl, and you’ll be a welcomed guest in any house.
- Do not loft the ball or toss it on to the lane surface. This can cause damage to the lanes, and you may be held liable for the damages.
- Do not use another person’s ball without asking first.
- Keep all personal items, especially bowling balls and bags, off the seats, the approach and any area where people are regularly walking around.
- Wait until the pin-setting machine has finished its cycle and the sweep bar has raised before releasing your next ball. You might think that there is no way you will ever hit the pin-setter during your delivery if you throw the ball just before it has finished its cycle. But it is not worth the risk.
- Respect every piece of house equipment and treat it as if it were your own, especially when renting house shoes or using a house ball.
- Always be on time for league play. Remember, you have teammates that are counting on you. Bowling houses work in shifts, and a late bowler can affect the shifts that are scheduled for later that night.
- Be prepared to take your regular turn on the lanes. Slowing down the pace of play by not paying attention is frustrating for other bowlers.
- Stay in or around the settee area until it is your turn to bowl. Other bowlers should not have to track you down to tell you it’s your turn to bowl.
- Take as much time as you need at the approach, but don’t take time just for the sake of taking time. Doing this may distract the people with whom you are bowling.
- Meet the person who bowls before you as he or she is stepping off the approach.
- Yield to the bowler on your immediate left or right if he or she is ready to bowl.
- Do not distract anyone in the setup. Keep talking and movement to a minimum in and around your settee area when someone is about to bowl.
- Avoid standing on the approach next to any bowler.
- Do not make any gestures or celebrate excessively when returning from the foul line.
- Limit or avoid sudden, loud noises at any time.
- If another bowler is in the middle of bowling on the lane next to you, do not enter your approach until he or she has finished the shot. When two bowlers enter their respective approaches at the same time, it is common courtesy to offer the other bowler the opportunity to bowl first.
On the approach…
- Never carry refreshments onto the approach area. Not only is this disrespectful to the bowling center, a spilled drink can be dangerous in the approach.
- Stay in your own approach area. Walking or flying off into other approaches is not only rude but also can be dangerous. Stay in control at all times during your delivery. After delivery, step back off the approach area so the next person can bowl.
- Sometimes the approach area is not in the best condition. In this case, refrain from using chalk, powder or resin to condition the area. Most bowling centers take a lot of pride in the condition of the lanes. If you have a serious issue with the condition of the approach or lanes, it is courteous to talk to the center’s manager out of hearing distance of other center employees and patrons.