HomeBowling LeagueBowling Handicap (What It Is And How To Calculated It)

Bowling Handicap (What It Is And How To Calculated It)

What is Bowling Handicap?

How to figure bowling handicap?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our bowling knowledge!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is A Handicap In Bowling

What does handicap mean in bowling?

Handicap in bowling is a means to level out the playing field allowing players of different caliber to fairly play and compete against one another in a challenging way.

In essence, the objective of a bowling handicap is to allow a player to compete against other players with different levels of experience, skill, and abilities.

The idea is to allow the player to have a fair chance at winning a game regardless of who they are playing against.

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) defines the bowling league handicap methods or handicapping rules in a way to give a fair chance to different bowlers and teams to compete against one another.

When a player joins a league for the first time, he or she will be assigned a handicap number or handicap score reflecting the person’s level of skill in bowling.

In this article, we’ll look at how handicap bowling works and the easiest way of calculating bowling handicap.

Keep reading!

How Does Handicap Work In Bowling

Let’s see how bowling handicaps work.

When you are assigned a handicap score, you are given like “bonus” points at the end of each game.

The higher your handicap score, the more extra points you can add to your final score.

For example, if your handicap in bowling comes out to 45 points, then if you play a game of 130, you will add 45 points to your final result (giving you a final score of 175 points).

Every league or tournament will use its own bowling handicap system so the numbers may vary from one league to the next.

However, the idea remains the same.

The bowling handicap gives amateur bowlers or beginners a boost in score allowing them to have a decent chance at winning a game even if they play against someone with more experience.

Why Calculate Bowling Handicap

In general, most bowlers view the handicapping system as a good way of introducing amateurs and beginners to the game.

They view the handicaps as a means of allowing bowlers of varying skills to play a fun and challenging game against one another.

However, others view the handicapping system as detrimental to the sport.

From the opponents’ point of view, the handicaps dilute a good player’s game compared to others.

They also argue that players playing in handicap leagues can “sandbag” undeserving wins.

Bowling Handicap Calculation

How does a bowling handicap calculation work?

It’s important to understand how to calculate bowling handicap if you are an amateur looking to participate in leagues and tournaments.

The bowling handicap is essentially a percentage of the difference between the bowler’s average and a basis average.

Here is the formula to calculate your bowling handicap:

(Basis Score – Average Score) X Percentage Factor

Basis Score

The basis average is a score intended to be higher than any individual bowler’s average.

The league will take the average score of its best bowler and increase that number further to get the basis score.

For example, you may see basis scores starting at 200 and up.

If the best player in the league has an average of 203 points, the league may assign the basis or standard to 220 or 230 (number greater than the best bowler’s average).

For the sake of our example, let’s assume that the league or tournament officials have assigned a basis score of 200.

Average Score

The bowler’s average score is the average of all the games played by the bowler in the league divided by the number of games played.

For example, if a bowler played five games as follows:

  • 135
  • 138
  • 142
  • 145
  • 150

The bowler’s average score is (135 + 138 + 142 + 145 + 150 = 710) divided by 5 games = 142.

If you get fractions in your average, you should just drop them. 

For example, if your average calculation comes out to 153.2, you should use 153 as your average.

So, in our example, the bowler’s average score is 142.

Percentage Factor 

The percentage factor is a percentage assigned to the bowler to calculate the player’s handicap.

For example, a bowler may be assigned a percentage factor of 80% whereas another may be assigned a factor of 100%.

In our example, let’s assume that the percentage factor 80%.


Now that we have our numbers, let’s see how to figure out bowling handicap.

The formula is (Basis Score – Average Score) X Percentage Factor.

Let’s do the math:

  • (200 – 142) = 58
  • 58 X 80% = 46.4
  • Drop the fraction = 46

In our example, the bowling league handicap comes out to 46 pins per game.

For every game that you will play, you will need to add 46 pins to your final score.

This means that if you play a game of 150, you will add 46 points to your game giving you a total score of 196 points.

Bowling Handicap Formula

The formula is (Basis Score – Average Score) X Percentage Factor.

The Basis Score is a number assigned by the league or tournament.

The Average Score is the bowler’s total average for all the games played.

The Percentage Factor is a percentage used to assign a handicap.

To calculate your bowling handicap, you’ll need to:

  • Determine the basis score by asking your league secretary the number they are using 
  • Determine your bowling average by calculating the total number of pins divided by the number of games you played
  • Subtract your average score from the basis score
  • Multiply the result with the percentage factor given to you by the league 


What is a handicap in bowling?

How to calculate bowling handicap?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Bowling Handicap:

  • You calculate bowling handicap by subtracting the bowler’s average score from the basis score, the multiply that by the percentage factor
  • The objective of bowling handicaps is to provide a challenging, competitive, and fun environment for players to play bowling 
  • Figuring bowling handicap is simple and requires a formula: (Basis Score – Average Score) X Percentage Factor
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Editorial Staffhttps://bowling.zone
Hello Nation! My name is Amir! I started this blog to provide all you bowling fans and enthusiasts with useful content, information, and resources on bowling. No matter if you are doing this as a hobby or professionally, I hope you could find what you're looking for. Enjoy!


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