What Is A Handicap In Bowling?

Are you curious to know what is a handicap in bowling? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about a handicap in bowling in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is a handicap in bowling?

Bowling is a beloved pastime enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a casual bowler or a seasoned pro, you’ve likely come across the term “handicap” in the world of bowling. But what exactly does it mean, and how does it influence the game? In this blog, we’ll explore what a handicap in bowling is, how it’s calculated, and its role in leveling the playing field for bowlers of varying skill levels.

What Is A Handicap In Bowling?

In bowling, a handicap is a numerical value assigned to a player to level the competition when bowlers of differing abilities compete against each other. The handicap provides an additional score to a bowler’s actual pinfall, increasing their chances of winning against opponents with higher skill levels. It essentially allows bowlers of varying abilities to compete on a more equitable basis.

Calculating The Handicap

The handicap is typically calculated based on the difference in average scores between bowlers. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Determine Averages: First, the average scores of all bowlers participating in the league or tournament are calculated. This average is usually based on a specific number of games (e.g., the most recent 10 games).
  2. Calculate the Difference: Next, the difference in average score between each individual bowler and the highest average in the league is determined.
  3. Assign a Handicap Percentage: A standard handicap percentage is established, which is often set by the league or tournament organizers. Common percentages range from 80% to 90%. This percentage represents the amount of the difference in average that is added to a bowler’s score as a handicap.
  4. Calculate the Handicap Score: The final step involves multiplying the difference in average by the handicap percentage. This calculation yields the handicap score, which is added to the bowler’s actual pinfall to determine their final score for the game.

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Role Of Handicap In Bowling

The primary purpose of a handicap in bowling is to promote fair competition by allowing bowlers of all skill levels to compete on an equal footing. Here’s why handicaps are important:

  1. Inclusivity: Handicaps make the sport more inclusive, enabling bowlers of varying abilities to participate in leagues and tournaments without feeling disadvantaged.
  2. Level Playing Field: By adjusting scores based on skill levels, handicaps create a level playing field where victory is not solely dependent on natural talent or experience.
  3. Motivation: Handicaps motivate bowlers to improve their game, as they can see their progress in the form of a reduced handicap over time.
  4. Encouragement: Novice bowlers often find encouragement and motivation to continue participating in the sport when they realize that their improvement can lead to better performance and competition.
  5. Enhanced Fun: Bowling is meant to be enjoyable, and handicaps contribute to the fun and camaraderie of the game by allowing everyone to have a chance at success.


A handicap in bowling is a valuable tool that enhances the sport’s inclusivity and ensures fair competition. It levels the playing field for bowlers of all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals, and fosters a sense of community and encouragement within the sport. So, whether you’re a casual bowler looking for a fun night out or a competitive enthusiast aiming for that perfect score, the handicap system in bowling ensures that the game remains an enjoyable and equitable pursuit for all.


How Do You Calculate Your Bowling Handicap?

Subtract your average score from the basis score and multiply the result by the percentage factor to calculate your bowling handicap. Suppose the basis score is 200 and the percentage factor is 90 percent. If your average is 147, you have (200-147) X 0.90 = 47.7. Again, drop the fraction.

What Is A Zero Handicap In Bowling?

The expert bowler would have a handicap of 0. The expert bowler also bowls well with raw scores of 230, 235, and 240 (also an increase of 10, 15, and 20 higher than their average like the first player). Since they don’t have any handicap we can simply add up their scores to find their total competition score of 705.

Is There A Handicap System In Bowls?

Handicaps are awarded on an increasing scale. Thus a novice will have a low, or even zero handicap, whilst a good or experienced player might have a handicap up to 7 shots.

What Is Scratch Bowling Tournament Vs Handicap?

In scratch bowling leagues, the team’s pin count is the actual score that team earns. This is the most straightforward way to score and involves no calculations beyond adding up pin counts. In handicap bowling leagues, on the other hand, the team’s score is made up of their pin count and a predetermined handicap value.

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