How to Calculate Bowling Handicap and What Is Bowling Handicap

How to Calculate Bowling Handicap and What Is Bowling Handicap

Bowling terms and rules are almost entirely different from other sports. If you are new to bowling, you must be unaware of the term bowling handicap and how to execute it while making a precise calculation.

If you are searching for a brief explanation of bowling handicaps, then you are at the right place. In this article, I’ll try to break down all the questions related to bowling handicaps, the execution, evaluation, and everything related to the term.

Handicap In Bowling – Explanation

This handicap system is basically utilized in different sports to balance the possibility of winning for bowlers with various skills and capabilities. Handicapping is the method of assigning benefits with the help of scoring rewards or other benefits given to various bowlers to balance the possibilities of winning.

The term also applies to the different approaches by which the benefit is calculated. As a rule, a more proficient bowler is disadvantaged, or a less competent or only capable bowler is advantaged, with a view to making it feasible for the comparatively less experienced bowler to win while keeping fairness.

What is the Intent of Implementing Handicaps in Bowling

The main objective of a handicap in bowling is to allow a bowler to play against another bowler with various standards of proficiency, experience, and abilities. The intention is to make tournaments and games competitive and fair for other players, ranging from entry-level to professional players.

With the use of this method, a less experienced player who attains his or her average will beat a talented bowler who falls under his or her category of average.

The USBC explains the bowling league handicap ways or handicapping regulations in a way to provides a fair opportunity for different players and leagues to play against each other.

When a bowler joins a team initially, she or he will be given a number or a score of handicap showing the individual’s level of proficiency in bowling.

How Does Handicap System Operate in Bowling

When a player is given a handicap score, it seems the bowler is given a bonus score at the end of every game. The higher your handicap points, the more additional scores you can add to your original score.

For instance, if your points of handicap in a bowling game appear as 35 points, then if you bowl a game of 120, you will add those 35 points to your original result, giving you a total score of 155 points.

Every tournament or league will utilize its system of bowling handicaps so that the points may alter from one tournament to the other. But the concept remains the same.

The bowling handicap provides beginner or amateur players a lift in the score, permitting them to have an excellent opportunity to win the entire game, even if the players bowl against someone with a little more experience.

How to Evaluate Bowling Handicap

Here’s a little guide on how to calculate your points of handicap in bowling while adding it your original score:

Find Out the Base Score

For this purpose, you must ask the secretary of your league, as the base score might alter from one league to the other. Generally, the basis score will be more than the highest average score in the league.

A general base score for an entertaining league might be 220. most of the leagues will see a percentage value, for example, 90 percent, if you ask the league secretary about the base score.

You might get the answer of 90 percent for 220.

Find Out the Average Score

To create an average, you must bowl at least three games in bowling. However, a maximum of 12 games are needed to attain any league accolade or award. To evaluate your average, divide the original number of scores by dividing it by the total number of games.

If you are attaining a score of 480 in three games, then by dividing it, your average is 160 by dividing 480 by three. If you attain fractions in your average score, you can use it by rounding it off to the next digit.

For instance, if a player plays 4 games as follows:

  • 132
  • 138
  • 145
  • 150

The player’s average score is 132+138+145+150 = 565, and by dividing it by 4, we get the answer of 141.2, and we can call it the average of 141. While evaluating the average, we can drop the fractions.

Deduct Your Average from the Base Score

Now if you get an average score of 141 and your base score is 198, deduct 141 from 198.

198 – 141 = 57

Multiply By Percentage

Now multiply that percentage assigned by the bowling league with the result of the difference between the average and the base score.

57 x 0.9 = 51.3

Your handicap is 51.

Extremities of Evaluating Handicap

  • Your handicap score might change weekly; however, the base score remains the same. Your average can change too, which actually causes a handicap to vary.
  • The percentage factor varies from league to league, some leagues utilize 80 percent, and others might utilize 90 or 100 percent. Remember to deduct your average score from the base score before the multiplication step.

What is the Reason Behind Calculating Bowling Handicap

Generally, most players see the handicapping approach as a better way of inserting beginners and amateurs into the game. They interpret handicaps as a source of allowing players of different capabilities to bowl a challenging and recreational game against each other.

But some other bowlers see the handicapping approach as harmful to the sport. From the competitor’s perspective, the handicaps reduce the experienced player’s game as compared to others. They also believe that bowlers bowling in handicap leagues can cause ineligible wins.

Final Considerations

Now you know the term bowling handicap and how to apply it in different leagues. In my opinion, bowling handicap is an ideal way to introduce entry-level players to the sport while making them compete against each other.

You can easily calculate the handicap score by deducting the player’s average score from the base score and then multiplying it by the applied percentage factor. The main objective is only to provide a competitive, recreational, and challenging environment for bowlers to play in the bowling alleys.

A simple formula is needed to calculate the bowling handicap. I hope this article has provided you with a lot of insight into the calculation and application of bowling handicaps and has benefited you in different ways to proceed with your bowling games feasibly.


Is 210 a good score in bowling?

A general bowling score ranging from 180-220 is reviewed as the good score, and a score above 220 is reviewed as the best, and the games are called perfect games. In the case of an entry-level player, a bowler should aim to play between 120-150.

What is a percentage factor of 90% in bowling?

A handicap having a percentage factor of 90% is the difference between a player’s average score and a raw figure of 200. While starting the game, all the league participants will sustain an average score grounded on 3 games. A new player who enters the league after the first match will establish an average grounded on the first three games played.

What is the maximum handicap in bowling?

If you have an average of more than 220, most bowling leagues will not provide players with a handicap. So, accordingly, 219 is termed as the maximum attainable handicap for a player.

Is it possible to have a negative handicap?

The answer is yes. You can have a negative handicap in bowling. In fact, I have experienced it myself too.

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