All About Strikes and Spares In Bowling [Score Guideline]

Strikes and Spares

Scoring is one of the most important things to learn after you gain bowling skills. Bowling scoring is a tad bit critical than other indoor games. Hence, you need to know everything in-depth so that you don’t have to rely on the computer screens of the bowling centers. Indeed, those automatic scoring system has made bowlers’ lives easier, but you still need to learn the fundamentals of bowling scoring. This would help you to set your goal better, and as a result, you’ll do better. So, continue to read further to know about strikes and spares and more extensively.

How many frames in bowling?

A single game in bowling ball consists of 10 frames. Except for the 10th frame, the rest of the 9 frames let you deliver the bowling ball twice- which means, to knock down 10 pins you will have two chances. As mentioned before, the scoring rules of the 10th frame are different. Suppose, you made a spare- you will get one more delivery. On the other hand, if you can score a strike, you’ll get two extra deliveries. If you leave the frame open (no spare or strike) after the first two deliveries, there won’t be any additional ball delivery.

How are points determined in bowling?

Your goal is simple. You just have to knock down as many as pins possible. The highest score is 300 if you score all strikes. 

What is Strike in Bowling?

A ‘strike’ takes place when a bowler knocks down all of the 10 pins with the bowling ball on the first delivery of a frame. After a strike, a bowler can throw the ball 2 more times, and the scores of the 2nd and 3rd shot get added with the strike’s score.  

How much is a strike in bowling?

When there is a strike, you earn 10 points with the addition of the sum of the next two ball deliveries. By doing so, the points scored for the latter two balls after you made the strike, are counted twice. A strike is typically rendered as an ‘X’ on the score screens or score sheets. Let’s say you knocked down 10 pins on your first delivery of the first frame. Then, you’ll have two more additional chances where you knocked down 10 pins in both of them. Your total score in a single frame will be 30.

Are strikes worth more than spares?

Yes, strikes are worth more than spares. This is because, when you strike on the first delivery of a frame, the score of the next two rolls is added with the 10 points as a bonus. Whereas, when you roll the ball twice and make a spare that is worth 10 points, you get only one roll and the number of the pins you knocked down gets added with the spare points. To clarify- if you strike every time you deliver the ball in your entire game, the highest score will be 300 (30 scores on each frame). But, what if there is no strike? Well, if you score spare every time you shot the ball, the highest score will be 190 points.

What are 3 strikes in a row called?

Bowling has one of the most unique terminologies when it comes to naming strikes and spares scores. Three strikes in a row mean you knocked down 10 pins with your bowling ball consecutively three times. When there are 3 strikes in a row, bowlers call it a ‘Turkey’. If the 3 consecutive strikes take place in the first three frames, they are sometimes called ‘Sizzling Turkey’.

What are 4 strikes in a row called?

When a player scores 4 strikes in a row, we call it ‘Hambone’. This terminology was first coined by bowling broadcaster Rob Stone. Four consecutive strikes are often called “Four-bagger” as well.

What are 5 strikes in a row called?

Let’s say, you have rolled strike 5 times in a row and the scoreboard is showing 5 consecutive ‘X’s. Well, what do you call that? Well, as per bowling lingo, you will call that ‘Brat’- named after the five bratwursts in a pack. In some places, 5 strikes in a row are called ‘Yahtzee’ or ‘Five-bagger’ as well.

What are 6 strikes in a row called?

Well, if you scored six strikes in a row, congratulations, you’re unbeatable! Six consecutive strikes are called ‘Wild Turkey’. Some bowlers love to call it ‘Six-pack’ or ‘Sixer’ or ‘Six-bagger’ as well. The name Wild Turkey explains a lot how your game is going- WILD, indeed!

What are 7 strikes in a row called?

Keep up the energy, and aim the same if you have already scored Wild Turkey. This is because you will be served with metaphoric dinner after the seven consecutive strikes. As you can recall, 3 strikes in a row are called ‘Turkey’, and 4 strikes in a row are called ‘Hambone’. If we combine 3 and 4, we get 7. Hence, seven strikes in a row are called ‘Ham-Turkey Dinner’. It can also be called ‘Seven-bagger’ or ‘Front seven’.  

What are 12 strikes in a row called?

You may have heard the term ‘Perfect Game’. A bowling game can be called a ‘perfect game’ when you can successfully score 300 points in total, which is very rare and one of the greatest achievements of a bowler. To score 300 points, a player needs to perform strikes 12 times in a row. Hence, it is called a ‘Perfect Game’. Nothing can be more perfect than 300 points, right?

Do you bowl again after a strike?

During your first delivery in a frame, if you knock down all of the 10 pins at the end of the lane, you get a strike. The scoreboard will show an ‘X’. As a reward for the previous strikes, you get 2 more chances to roll the bowling ball on the lane. The points of the next two deliveries are added with the first 10 points. So, yes, you bowl again after a strike.

What is a Spare in bowling?

The term ‘spare’ is used to indicate that bowlers have knocked down 10 pins on the second delivery. In other words, when you knock down all the 10 pins on two consecutive and separate deliveries in a single frame, it can be defined as a spare.

How much is a spare worth in bowling?

For a spare, you also earn 10 points (similar to strike) along with the sum of the next ball delivery. Unlike strike, you get a chance to roll again, but only once, instead of twice. So, for example, in a frame, first you knocked down 8 pins, and you can see there are 2 more pins on the end of the lane. So you throw your ball again and this time, you knocked down the remaining 2 pins. Congratulations! You just got yourself a spare. This will be marked on the score sheet or score screen with a ‘/’ (slash mark) in the small box of the frame.

What is your bowling score with all spares?

Let’s say, you didn’t strike, not even once in the full game. And, you also didn’t keep any frame open. So, without any strike what do you think the highest score can be? Well, it’s 190 points. As mentioned above, you do not get 2 extra chances in a frame when you score a spare. Instead, you get one chance only. Therefore, if you bowl spare in every single frame, your total score will be 190 points and that is the highest you can get without any strike. In order to get 190 points, you have to knock down 9 pins first, and then the remaining one in the next delivery. And, you’ll have to repeat the same during the whole game.

What happens if you bowl a spare in the 10th frame?

As mentioned before, the scoring system for the 10th frame is not the same as the previous 9 frames. So, let’s assume you have rolled a spare on the 10th frame. What do you think will happen? Well, first, let’s clear out one thing, which is – it takes 2 shots to score a spare. So after a spare, you will get one additional shot. This extra shot will be the last shot of your game. Whatever you score will be added with the 10 points you got from rolling a spare. 


Oftentimes the beginners or learners jumble up the bowling scoring system, especially the strikes and spares. Due to the unclear concept of the bowling scoring system, the miscalculation often leads to a wrong final score which isn’t good for your future progress. For a better goal and a better result, you need to understand all the bowling lingo and scoring processes well so nothing can stop you.


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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