What Is A Handicap In Bowling

what is a handicap in bowling

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What is a handicap in bowling? It’s a method for evening things out in bowling so that players of varying skill levels can compete against one another in a fair and challenging way.

A handicap is a method for a bowler to compete against other bowlers of varying skill levels, experience, and physical capabilities.

The aim is to give the player a level playing field and ensure that they have an equal chance of winning against any opponent.

To guarantee that all bowlers and teams in each league have an equal probability of winning, the USBC has established special handicapping regulations.

All bowlers who have never bowled in a league before are given handicap numbers or handicap scores that reflect their bowling skills.

This post explains handicap bowling and a simple approach to calculating one’s bowling handicap. Continue reading to learn more!

How Does Bowling Handicap Work?

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What Is A Handicap In Bowling?

You’ve undoubtedly heard golf players talk about their handicap. Did you know that the same handicap system is also used in bowling?

The goal in both sports is to provide a level playing field for all players, regardless of their skills. The handicap number assigned to new bowlers is based on their skill level and enables them to compete with the league’s top bowlers.

In other words, how can you determine a bowler’s handicap? It will need some arithmetic, but it is relatively straightforward.

The baseline score is the first step in determining a player’s handicap. The league’s best bowler average multiplied by two to arrive at this figure. If the best bowler averages 200, the standard maybe 230.

To compute their handicap, a bowler would first take their average (usually based on their prior season’s scores) and subtract it from the standard. A bowler with an average of 180 will allocate for a handicap of 50.

It’s also worth noting that the number of teams involved in the handicapping calculation is irrelevant. If a league uses a handicapping system of 100 percent, then no other adjustments are necessary. From time to time, however, percentage systems may be used instead.

A bowler’s actual handicap is always 70% of their apparent handicap, regardless of the two differences. The bowler who previously had a 50-point handicap now has a 35-point one.

Handicaps are essential to the fairness of the game and the enjoyment of players of all skill levels, even though coming up with a single number may appear to be a lot of labor.

Bowling handicaps offer novices and beginners a boost in their score, allowing them to compete against more experienced bowlers.

What Is The Purpose Of Bowling Handicap Calculation?

Bowlers feel that handicapping helps introduce people to the game. Bowlers with varying levels of expertise can compete against one another in this game, which they regard as a fun and challenging method.

On the other hand, some people consider handicapping to be bad for the game. Some believe that handicapping reduces a good player’s performance compared to others.

They argue that players in handicapped events may frequently win games unfairly.

The Calculation Of A Bowling Handicap

Is there a formula for calculating a bowling handicap? If you want to compete in leagues and tournaments as an amateur, you need to know how to calculate your bowling handicap.

The handicap is determined as a percentage of the difference between the bowler’s average and the average of a base average.

Use the following calculation to determine your bowling handicap:

  • Percentage Factor X (Basis Score – Average Score)

Basis Score

The “basis average” of any team should be greater than the average of anyone bowler. Based on the best bowler’s average score, the league’s basic score will be determined. Basis scores are sometimes seen in the 200 to 300 range.

Assume the league’s top bowler has a score of 203 points, which is average. A standard of 220 or 230 may be used as a benchmark or foundation. Please assume that the league or tournament officials have assigned a base score of 200 to our example.

Average Score

The average score is found by dividing the total number of games played by the sum of all of the bowler’s league matches.

Suppose a bowler had five games like this:

  • 135
  • 138
  • 142
  • 145
  • 150

710 divided by 5 produces a bowler’s average score of 142.

It’s best to remove any fractions from your average if it contains any. If your average is 153.2, you should use 153 as your average. As a result, in our scenario, the bowler’s average is 142.

Percentage Factor

A percentage weight is applied to a bowler’s performance when determining their handicap.

For example, one bowler assigned the percentage ratio of 80 percent, while another assigned the proportion factor of 100 percent. Assume that in our example, the proportion factor is 80%.


Let’s figure out our bowling handicap after we have our scores. Here are the numbers:

  • (200 – 142) = 58
  • 58 X 80% = 46.4
  • Drop the fraction = 46

In our example bowling league, the handicap is represented by 46 pins per game or a loss of two games.

For each game, you play, add 46 pins to your final score. A game with a total of 150 points will result in a score of 196, thanks to the addition of 46 pins.

The Formula For A Bowling Handicap

The formula for handicap is Percentage Factor X (Basis Score – Average Score).

The Basis Score is calculated using the league or tournament’s rules. The average score for all games bowled by a player is the average score. A handicap is determined by applying the Percentage Factor to the current situation.

Calculate your bowling handicap using the following procedures:

  • Ask your league secretary for the number they use as the basis score.
  • To compute your bowling average, divide the number of pins by the number of games you’ve bowled.
  • Take your average and subtract the basis score.
  • Multiply the result by the percentage factor the league gave you.


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What Is A Handicap In Bowling?

Now that you know how handicaps work in bowling, you can apply this knowledge when you next hit the lanes. Understanding how your handicap is calculated and what it means for your game can help you score better and have more fun while bowling. We hope this article has helped clear up any questions you had about handicapping in bowling – if not, be sure to reach out to us for more information!

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Picture of Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

I play bowling almost daily, and on the days I'm not? I'm writing about my day and what I need to do to improve myself as a better bowling player.

Picture of Shmulik Dorinbaum

Shmulik Dorinbaum

I play bowling almost daily, and on the days I'm not? I'm writing about my day and what I need to do to improve myself as a better bowling player.

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