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Understanding Bowling Handicaps

understanding bowling handicaps - Bowlingview

If you’re looking to take your bowling game to the next level, it’s important to understand how handicaps can help you improve. A bowling handicap is a numerical value given to each player in a league that helps even out the playing field and makes competition more fair.

By understanding how these handicaps are calculated, what benefits they offer, and different types of leagues with their own unique systems for calculating them, bowlers can better assess their current skill levels and strategize ways to improve their scores over time.

In this article, we will discuss all aspects of bowling handicaps so that you can become an expert on the topic.

What is a Bowling Handicap

If you’re relatively new to the game of bowling, the idea of a handicap may be foreign to you. Essentially, a bowling handicap is a way of leveling the playing field so that bowlers of different skill levels can compete fairly against each other.

It’s calculated based on your average score, which is determined by totaling your scores from several games and dividing by the number of games bowled.

For example, if your average score is 150 and your opponent’s average is 200, you may receive a handicap of 50 points to even the playing field.

This means that if you bowl a 150 and your opponent bowls a 200, your actual score would be 200 with the handicap added in. The purpose of a handicap is to allow players of all skill levels to compete against each other in a fun, challenging way.

How are Handicaps Calculated

Bowling handicaps are determined by taking an average score of a bowler over multiple games and comparing it to the established baseline score of 200. For example, a bowler with an average score of 170 will have a handicap of 30 points (200-170 = 30).

This handicap is then added to the bowler’s actual score in order to level the playing field and give less experienced or less fortunate bowlers an equal chance to compete.

So, if the same bowler with a 170 average scores 180 in a game, their final score with a handicap would be 210 (180+30=210).

It is important to note that maximum handicap is usually capped at a certain number to avoid an unfairly large advantage.

Overall, understanding bowling handicaps may seem daunting, but it is simply a way to make the sport more inclusive and allow everyone to participate on an equal footing.

Benefits of Having a Handicap

While having a handicap may seem like a disadvantage, it actually comes with several benefits. One benefit is the ability to improve your game through challenges.

With a handicap, a player can still compete against those who may be more skilled and, in turn, learn from their opponents’ techniques. Another benefit is the motivation to continually improve one’s score.

When you have a handicap, your score goal becomes achievable yet still challenging. This potential to achieve a higher score with each game is a great way to stay motivated and continue to challenge yourself. Additionally, having a handicap allows players of different skill levels to compete together.

Without handicaps, some players may feel discouraged from joining in on games with more advanced bowlers. However, with the handicap system in place, anyone can join, and the game becomes more inclusive.

Finally, practicing with handicaps allows players to develop multiple skill sets. For example, a bowler may work on their spare game so that their handicap will come closer to their actual score – ultimately making them even better overall players.

With handicaps as part of your understanding of bowling, you can experience great benefits both on and off the lanes.

Different Types of Bowling Leagues and Their Handicapping Systems

Bowling is a popular sport enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. There are several different types of bowling leagues, including mixed, women’s, men’s, and youth leagues. Each league has its own set of rules and handicapping system to level the playing field for all bowlers, regardless of their skill level.

Handicapping is an essential aspect of bowling because it allows players with lower scores to have an equal chance of winning against more experienced bowlers. Two common handicapping systems are the 90% of 220 and 80% of 200 methods.

The first method allows bowlers to receive 90% of the difference between their average and 220, while the second method uses 80% of the difference between their average and 200.

Understanding the different types of bowling leagues and their respective handicapping systems is crucial for those who want to excel in the sport. With this knowledge, bowlers can compare their scores and identify the best leagues and handicapping systems to help them achieve their goals.

Tips for Improving Your Handicap Score

Understanding bowling handicaps is crucial for any bowler looking to improve their skills and performance on the lanes. One key aspect of this is knowing how to improve your handicap score, which can help you compete with others on an even playing field.

To achieve this, there are six tips to keep in mind.

  • First, focus on form and technique and practice regularly
  • Choose the right ball and equipment
  • Pay attention to lane conditions
  • Develop a solid pre-shot routine
  • Improve your mental game
  • Seek advice from experienced bowlers or coaches

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Bowling League with a Handicap System

If you’re new to bowling leagues with a handicap system, it’s important to know what mistakes to avoid when applying. The handicap system is designed to level the playing field among bowlers of all skill levels, but it can also be confusing if not understood properly.

One common mistake is not accurately reporting one’s average score from previous games. A higher average can result in a lower handicap, giving an unfair advantage.

Additionally, not understanding the rule of restoring the previous average can lead to an incorrect handicap.

It’s important to ask questions and seek clarification before applying for a bowling league with a handicap system. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can not only understand bowling handicaps but also enjoy fair and friendly competition among your fellow bowlers.

Final Thoughts on Understanding Bowling Handicaps

Understanding bowling handicaps is essential for any bowler looking to improve their skills and performance on the lanes.

By following these six tips, even beginners can quickly become familiar with how to apply a handicap system, level the playing field among bowlers of all skill levels, and even gain an edge over their opponents.

Additionally, avoiding common mistakes when applying for a bowling league with a handicap system is important for fair and friendly competition. With the proper understanding of bowling handicaps, you can become a better bowler and have more fun while doing it!


Here are some FAQs about understanding bowling handicaps that will help you become a better bowler and have more fun while doing it!

A: The handicap in bowling is a system used to help less-skilled bowlers compete with expert ones in leagues and tournaments. It works by giving a boost to the total score of the less-experienced player based on a particular percentage of the difference from the league’s basic score.

A: To calculate your bowling handicap, you need to know your average score per game and the basis score used by your league or tournament. You then subtract your average score from the basis score and multiply the result by the handicap percentage.

This resulting number is your handicap. It can change as your average score changes.

A: While the basis score can differ from one league or tournament to another, the basis score commonly used by the United States Bowling Congress is 230.

A: The handicap percentage factor in bowling is used to calculate your handicap. It is often set by the league or tournament and can vary, but a typical percentage used is 90%.

A: The definition of a good bowling score can vary among individuals and tournaments, but typically, a score in the high 100s to low 200s is considered above average.

A: A new bowler can join a handicap league by registering for a league, then playing several games to establish their average score.

This average score is then used to calculate their initial handicap, allowing them to compete fairly against more experienced bowlers.

A: If your average score per game improves, your bowling handicap will decrease, thus reducing the number of extra pins added to your score. So, the better you become, the smaller your handicap gets.

A: The highest handicap possible in bowling would be the basis score minus one, multiplied by the handicap percentage.

Typically, this would mean the highest handicap would be somewhere near or slightly above 200 if we take the basis score as 230.

A: In bowling tournaments, bowlers and teams with different skill levels are given handicaps to create an even playing field.

The bowler’s average score is subtracted from the basis score then the remainder is multiplied by the handicap percentage, which is then added to the bowler’s score during the tournament to calculate their total score.

A: Once you know your average score, the basis score, and the handicap percentage used in your league or tournament, getting your handicap becomes straightforward. Subtract your average from the basis score, then multiply the result by the handicap percentage.

This will give you the handicap number, which is the number of extra pins per game added to your score.