Bowling Etiquette 101 ( Dos and Don’ts on the Alley)

Bowling Ettiquete

Having mutual respect and true sportsmanship is an integral part of every sport. Be a professional bowler or an occasional one, maintaining basic etiquette is a must. You need to be respectful to other players and not go too overboard while playing the game.

Bowling etiquette refers to being polite and following the rules of the game. Whether you’re playing with a bunch of friends or in a tournament, the basic manner codes should be followed at all times.

We have come up with the bowling etiquette guideline that will help you have a fun-filled bowling session.

Dos and Don’ts on the Alley

Manners are not subjected to dinner tables. Bowling surely comes with tons of fun but there are some factors that you should follow on the bowling alley. There are some dos and don’ts that you should be following to make the most out of the game.


  • Being polite to your fellow players is a sign of true sportsmanship. Always avoid unnecessary banters and don’t go too overboard teasing other bowlers. Have as much fun as you want but be sure not to insult or hurt someone’s feeling in the process. It shows unprofessionalism.
  • Try to carry your own bowling shoes, towels, etc. to the alley. Also, if you use custom-made bowling balls then make sure you carry them with you. This will ensure that you play with the utmost accuracy and precision throughout the game.
  • The white bar that takes away the pins and sets them up from the next delivery is known as the sweet bar. Wait till the sweet bar sets up the pins properly and then make the delivery. If you make the delivery before the pins are set then it may cause damage to the pins or the bowling ball.
  • We are only humane and it’s okay to get carried away at times. However, respecting the lane boundaries is an important part of the game. As you approach to deliver the ball, try to stay within your designated approach area. Also, once you have delivered, clear out the area and let others make their shots.
  • Wearing proper footwear will not only help you bring your A-game but it’ll also help you have a proper grip. You may face severe accidents if you’re wearing the wrong footwear during the game.
  • Controlling your language and emotions are important to maintain a healthy environment in the game. Winning or losing both are a part of the game. Accept defeat and try to be generous if you win the game. This basic etiquette will help your opposition feel better about the game.


  • It’s a basic manner to ask for permission if you’re using someone else’s gears or equipment. Never use another bowler’s equipment without their permission. No matter how good your intentions are, it’s always better to ask for permission beforehand to avoid any conflict.
  • Do not talk to the bowler while he/she is on the verge of making a shot. This will disrupt their thinking process and they might not be able to make the throw with their full potential. Wait until the shot is made and then talk away.
  • Bowling is indeed a social activity. However, never make chaos around the player who is about the make a throw. This will hamper the concentration of the bowler. Reserve the chit-chat sessions for the seated area or after the shot is done.
  • Always wait for your turn on the alley. Be respectful to the bowlers next to you and do not cut off lines. We understand the anticipation can be overwhelming. However, you need to stay patient until your turn comes up.
  • Never bring food or drinks near the lane. We understand that snacks and munchies are hard to resist. Make sure you keep them away from the approach lane to ensure a clean and safe environment in the bowling area.
  • Don’t take a restroom break or a food break when it is your turn to make the delivery. There are other players involved in the game. So, making them wait for your purpose may seem uncouth and hamper the enjoyment of others. Try to take the necessary breaks when it is not your turn and be back by the time it is your turn to deliver the shot.
  • Don’t just go straight at the pins; wait for the machine to complete its cycle. Throwing a ball before the machine is ready may damage your ball and your bowling equipment.

Some Rules to Follow

You might be a top-notch player but all your efforts will go in vain if you’re not showing proper manners and etiquette on the bowling alley. Here are some basic rules that you can follow to have a great experience in the alley.

Wear Proper Shoes

This is one is a no brainer and it’s applicable for most sports out there. A wrong pair of shoes may knock you down instead of the bowling pins. You can encounter fatal accidents and broken bones if you fall down in awkward positions.

Always wear a pair of shoes that fit you well so that you can take down the steps comfortably on the alley. Also, bowling alleys are quite slippery, make sure the shoe offers a proper grip that will help you make the strike with ease.

Don’t Cross the Line

Bowling games are indeed very fun and exciting. Your eyes are locked at the target and the excitement to knock down the pin skyrockets as you take the steps forward towards the alley. However, amidst all the excitement, we often tend to cross the boundary which is known as the foul line.

Crossing the boundary line is a big no-no during the game. Your points will not be counted if you cross the foul line. Also, the lane is extremely oily after this territory which makes it quite risky as that can cause severe accidents.

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue. The saying is true for many aspects of life and for bowling as well. It’s the basic courtesy to wait for the ball to come back to the rack before making another attempt. This will also give you the time to plan the strategy for your next move.

Sometimes we tend to miss the last or two pins due to overexcitement and wrong moves. Plan your throws strategically and weigh out the possibilities of success of the throw. Don’t rush or be overexcited as that may hamper your performance.

Pick the Right Bowling Ball

All your expertise will go in vain if you keep on playing with the wrong bowling ball. Many have the tendency to pick the heaviest bowling ball as that will hit the pins with a greater impact. Well, that’s where you’re wrong.

Choose the weight that you’re most comfortable with. A heavy bowling ball will easily make you fatigued and deteriorate your performance after a while. The trick is to pick a ball that conforms well to the contours of your finger and helps you play with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You need to wear a face covering whilst bowling?

No, it is not necessary to wear face covering when bowling for vaccinated persons. Just you have to show vaccine proof to the concerned authority.

Final Words

Be it the bowling alley or a black-tie event, following proper etiquettes are a fundamental part of living a decent social life. You need to respect the fellow players and the equipment to have an exciting bowling session.

Following some basic etiquette and manner will help you excel in the game. If you are a winner or loser in a bowling game, that does not make any difference because at the end of the day someone will be a winner and someone will be a loser. But what makes you guilty in front of your competitors or audience is not to follow bowling etiquette properly.


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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