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What Does Scratch Mean In Bowling?

What Does Scratch Mean In Bowling? - Bowlingview

Are you looking to become a better bowler and take your skills to the next level? If so, then scratch bowling is for you! Scratch bowling leagues and tournaments allow bowlers of all levels to challenge themselves and compete with some of the best players in the game.

This type of competitive bowling requires a different approach than regular handicap games, but if done right can be very rewarding.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what scratch bowling is, why it’s beneficial for improving your skills as a bowler, and how anyone can get started competing in these events. So don’t wait any longer – let’s dive into the world of scratch bowling!

What is Scratch Bowling?

Scratch bowling is a type of bowling format where the bowler’s score is determined solely by the number of pins knocked down in the game.

Scratch bowling is different from handicap leagues. In scratch bowling, there are no extra points or changes in the points. To become a scratch bowler means to accept the challenge head-on and prove your bowling prowess without any advantages.

Who is a Scratch Bowler?

A scratch bowler is a player who participates in scratch bowling leagues and tournaments. They often have high averages and are known for their remarkable bowling skills.

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour, the pinnacle of competitive bowling, is essentially a true scratch league where the best in all tournaments face their opponents head-on without looking back.

What Does Handicap Mean in Bowling?

In handicap bowling, each bowler is credited with an added score based on their average to even the playing field.

This method of scoring allows bowlers with a lower average to compete fairly with higher-skilled bowlers.

A team’s pin count averages in this type of league are adjusted using certain handicap factors, allowing lower-averaging teams an equal chance of winning.

How Does Scratch Bowling Differ from Handicap Bowling?

The main difference between scratch and handicap bowling is that in scratch bowling, bowlers are credited with only their original scores, with no adjustments. In handicap bowling, however, scores are adjusted based on averages to even out the competition.

It’s like running a race where slower runners are given a head start. In scratch bowling, everyone gets to the foul line at the same time.

Why Should You Join Scratch Bowling Leagues?

Joining a scratch bowling league can help you improve your skills and become a better bowler. You get to bowl with the best players and learn from their techniques and experience.

It might be daunting, but the learning opportunities in scratch leagues are unparalleled. Plus, there’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of competing with the best bowlers on a level playing field.

How to Score Better as a Scratch Bowler?

Scoring well in scratch bowling requires consistent practice and knowledge about bowling conditions, including oil patterns on the lanes.

It also requires an understanding of bowling lingo, like the term “290,” which means that the bowler has had a near-perfect game, missing only one strike hit.

How to Become a Better Scratch Bowler?

The key to becoming a better scratch bowler involves working on your technique, understanding the oil patterns, and maintaining a high average score.

Also, learning to take deep breaths and calm yourself before each bowl can dramatically improve your performance.

Can Anyone Join Scratch Bowling Leagues?

Absolutely! Anyone can join a scratch bowling league as long as they are prepared for the challenge and have a certain level of skills and experience in bowling. There are scratch leagues throughout the country for bowlers of different skill levels.

What Happens in a Scratch Tournament?

In a scratch tournament, the total pin count determines the team or individual’s position in the tournament.

Just like in league play, the bowler with the highest pin count wins the tournament. These tournaments are an excellent opportunity to learn from the best and, if you’re lucky, even win a tournament!

Does Joining Scratch Bowling Leagues and Tournaments Help Improve Your Game?

Yes, joining scratch bowling leagues and tournaments can significantly improve your bowling skills.

It provides an opportunity to bowl under different scoring conditions, learn from better bowling, and gain a more natural understanding of the game. You also get a chance to play with the ‘bigger fish’ in the bowling world, which can only make you a stronger competitor.


In conclusion, here are the main takeaways:

  • Scratch bowling is a type of bowling format where only the actual pin count is counted; no handicaps are given.
  • A scratch bowler participates in scratch bowling leagues and tournaments and typically has a high average score.
  • Handicap bowling is a method of scoring where bowlers are credited with an added pin count based on their average, enabling lower-scoring teams a fair chance of winning.
  • Joining a scratch bowling league can help improve your skills and give you the opportunity to compete with the best in the game.
  • Anyone with decent scratch bowling experience and skills can join scratch bowling leagues.
  • Scoring better as a scratch bowler requires understanding the game, regular practice, and a calm mind.
  • Joining scratch bowling leagues and tournaments is beneficial as it offers learning opportunities from the best bowlers, improves skills, and increases the experience under various bowling conditions.

Step into the bowling center, pick up that bowling ball and bowl your way into the world of scratch bowling. Who knows? You may even see yourself on the PBA tour one day!


Do you want to know what “scratch” means in bowling? This FAQ will answer all your questions about this type of bowling, including the scoring system and how it can help improve your skills.

A: Scratch scoring in bowling tournaments involves keeping track of the pure scores without adding any handicap.

This simply means that scores are calculated by adding up pin counts over the course of a game. That’s why scratch scoring is also preferred by players in major bowling tournaments and leagues.

A: In scratch bowling, scores are based purely on the pin count a bowler attains. However, in handicap bowling, additional points are awarded to average bowlers to level the playing field.

These points are determined based on a standard average, often 200, and are subtracted from this to determine the handicap, which is then added to the player’s actual score.

A: Joining junior leagues in bowling means that younger bowlers, usually under the age of 18, participate in competitions designed specifically for them. These leagues usually provide a mix of handicap and scratch scoring to encourage better bowling and more natural competition.

A: The average bowler’s score is crucial in both scratch and handicap bowling since it helps to gauge the skill level of a bowler. A high average indicates a highly skilled bowler and is often necessary when bowling with ‘bigger fish’ like opponents as professional bowlers.

A: The USBC, or the United States Bowling Congress, is the national governing body for ten-pin bowling in the U.S. It sets the rules for different formats, including scratch bowling. It also organizes national tournaments and leagues where scratch bowling is an essential format.

A: Your position in a tournament or league in bowling is determined by your scores across games.

Scratch bowling is based purely on your ability to knock down pins. Your position can determine the prizes you win, your seeding in future games, and can even give you a place in professional tours such as PBA tours and leagues.

A: A team pin count average in bowling is the sum of the averages of the individual players on the team and helps measure a team’s overall strength. For leagues and tournaments providing team competition, like the USBC leagues, they often use this team pin count average to determine match-ups.

A: Scratch bowling pushes a bowler to improve their natural abilities since it doesn’t use any handicaps. By focusing on hard work and skill improvement, a bowler can improve their scores in the scratch format.

This provides for a better understanding of the game, and tends to tune their skills for better bowling and more natural competition.

A: Scratch bowling is the primary format used in professional leagues such as the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) tours.

Therefore, being a good scratch bowler can influence a player’s inclusion in these prestigious tours, which are the pinnacle of competition for professional bowlers.