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Bowling Rules, Safety and Etiquette on the Lanes

One of the best parts of bowling is how easy it is to head to the lanes and get rolling without any special training. Despite this, however, you need to learn some of the rules of bowling so you stay safe and respect the other bowlers around you as well as the bowling alley staff.

Safe Use of Equipment

First off, you must be careful with the bowling ball and all other house equipment. Be sure to avoid lofting or throwing the ball as this can cause serious damage to the lane.

Also, you need to pay close attention to the automatic pinsetter so you don’t accidentally roll your ball too early and hit the bar that clears the pins. This can cause even bigger damage and the management might even ask you to leave.

When retrieving a ball from the automatic ball return, never reach your hand into the machine, and be sure to grip your ball on the sides, so your hand doesn’t get caught when another ball suddenly shoots out.

If you’re eating any food, be sure your hands are dry and clean before gripping the ball, as the ball might slip out of your hand and hurt you or someone else. Finally, keep all your bowling gear and personal items close to you so other bowlers cannot trip on them.

Bowling Etiquette: The Unwritten Rules

In addition to these important safety tips, there are also a few bowling courtesies and points of etiquette you will need to learn so you maintain an appropriate speed of play and don’t upset any other bowlers next to you.

First, don’t ever enter the approach area until it is your turn. If bowlers on an adjacent lane are in the process of making their shot, walking out can be very distracting, so be sure to wait until they have finished. This is sometimes referred to as “yielding the right of way.”

Once it is your turn, enter the approach area promptly and make your shot. Avoid getting engaged in a conversation with your lane mates or fiddling with your cell phone, as this will delay other bowlers who are waiting for you.

After you have made your shot, avoid making any loud noises or sudden movements and walk straight back to the seating area. Although it’s often tempting to celebrate a big strike, this will be very distracting to other bowlers next to you. Once you get back to your seat, then you can brag to your friends!

What to Do if Someone Isn’t Following These Rules

If you encounter an individual or group that is being disruptive or distracting, you can politely ask them to follow good bowling etiquette. If you’d rather not approach them or if they don’t listen, immediately inform a staff member. Your experience should never be negatively impacted by bowlers in other lanes, and the staff will be quick to remedy the situation.

With these rules and courtesies in mind, you will make your bowling experience safer and more fun; plus, you’ll have more confidence, which is key to getting better scores.

Next Article: How to Keep Score in Bowling

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5 Responses to Bowling Rules, Safety and Etiquette on the Lanes
  1. Steve
    August 2, 2012 | 9:31 am

    Does any one know of requirements for the Lane Conditioner, appliciation, what is it, where is in applied any safety issues associated with it. Reason, I slipped on the alley and have severly injured myself, possibility of never returning to work. Can any one help, it would be greatly appriciated.



    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      September 13, 2013 | 5:47 pm

      Steve, I’m sorry to hear about your injury. We aren’t aware of any standard guidelines relating to lane conditioner safety. The USBC does require that conditioner meets FDA standards, but that is more for the effects of the chemicals, not where it is applied. There have been some similar recent cases that might help you out:
      Talking to a lawyer would be your best bet to see if the alley might hold liability in your case. Best of luck with this tough situation.

  2. Howard Reed
    January 21, 2016 | 10:12 pm

    Great article about the etiquette of bowling, especially about yielding the right of way, so as not to distract any bowler next to you. I also like how you said not to take too long making the shot, and being courteous to other players. It would be great to be able to apply those two things to not only bowling, but in other aspects of life as well.

    • Joseph (BBT Writing Staff)
      January 27, 2016 | 8:17 am

      Thanks, glad you found it helpful.

  3. Denise Miller
    April 29, 2017 | 1:20 am

    Very nice article. One thing i want to share is that, a good pair of Bowling Shoes is required to keep the bowler safe from falling.

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