Proper Bowling Etiquette

Part 1 – Strikes, Spares, and Opens
An important, but often undiscussed aspect of competitive bowling is how to follow proper bowling etiquette. It’s good to become familiar with the do’s in reacting to your teammate’s and opponent’s various successes as well as their disappointments. A fist bump to a struggling colleague can be a powerful motivator, just as a high-five when your rival gets a strike can be seen as a respectful gesture and win you possible bowling mates in the future. As such, here are some tips and tricks for following proper bowling etiquette while on the lanes.

Teammate Strike: A high five is preferred, perhaps with a hearty ‘heck, yeah!’ or ‘you da man, (insert teammate name here).’ A fist bump is acceptable depending on if the teammate is a high average bowler and just ended a long string of non-strikes.

Teammate Spare: Fist bumps only! Unless your teammate is a child, in which case high-fives are recommended.

Teammate Open Frame: An open after a big split deserves a fist bump, especially if the pick-up attempt was close. Adding a, ‘Ooo, nice try!’ can be quite effective as well. For any other open, your teammate deserves the dreaded ‘low five’. It will let them know that they should be worried about you replacing them on the team.

Opponent Pocket Strike: A fist bump is entirely appropriate in this situation. Throwing an occasional high five into the mix is good too, but don’t overdo it. You are not friends.

Opponent Brooklyn Strike: This also receives the dreaded low-five. Proper verbal responses include: ‘didn’t know you were a lefty (righty, if the opponent is left-handed)’; ‘better to be lucky than good’; and the ever popular, ‘Hey! Get off my line!’ However, do not make eye contact with your opponent. You won’t acknowledge such blasphemy on your bowling lane.

Opponent Spare: Fist bump and move along. This is business as usual.
Opponent Open Frame: No matter the open (split or not), try to gauge how upset your opponent is prior to offering condolences. If they smile and have an ‘oh well’ look, give them a fist bump; if they seem down in the dumps, offer a low five and a ‘you’ll get ‘em next time’; if they put their fist through the monitor, maybe just quietly let them walk by.