How Long Is A Game Of Bowling?

So, you’re planning on going bowling with your friends, family, or even your date – but you’re not sure how long it takes to play one game of bowling.

How Long Is A Game Of Bowling?

Will it take hours, or will it only occupy you for 30 minutes? Will you have enough time to squeeze in another game? Who knows! 

Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re a professional bowling player looking for the average time it takes to complete all ten frames or if you’re looking for a fun afternoon activity with the kids, here’s everything you need to know about how long it takes to play a game of bowling. 

Average Length Of One Game Of Bowling 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. After all, there are so many variants that can change the length of a single game of bowling. 

On average, however, a single person playing a single game of bowling will take roughly between 15 and 20 minutes. This counts for setting up the scoring machine and completing the ten frames. 

If you have more people playing a game of bowling, then the time is inevitably going to increase.

For example, if a group of 4 or 5 people is playing a game of bowling, it should take up to or over an hour to complete a single game. 

Of course, there are several variables that alter the average length of a game of bowling. Let’s take a look at these variables. 

Number Of Players

Inevitably, the more players you’ve got on a single lane, the longer it’s going to take to finish a game.

This is because you’ve got to consider that everyone is going to have at least two shots per frame, with ten frames per game. 

You’ve also got to consider the bonuses from scoring strikes. For example, if a player shoots a strike in the tenth frame, then they will be entitled to a third shot in that frame. 

So, for one player in a game of bowling, it should take around 15-20 minutes to complete the frames. 

For two players, it’s going to take around 30-45 minutes. However, this time will be considerably shorter if both players consistently score strikes. 

If you’re intending to play in a group of six players, you can expect to spend about 90 minutes to 2 hours playing a single game.

This is especially true if you’re bowling with kids, who might spend time trying to use the ramp or choosing the right ball weight

Time Socializing 

Bowling is a surprisingly sociable sport. When you’re not bowling in a frame, you’re going to be sitting with your fellow bowling buddies, chatting away and comparing scores.

The more people you’ve got playing in a game, the longer the game will take because of the amount of time spent socializing. 

It’s not just about chatting. Of course, you can socialize when it’s not your turn, because frames don’t take too long to complete, but you’ve got to consider other variables, including:

  • Going to the bathroom 
  • Choosing the right ball
  • Waiting for food and drinks
  • Helping children, beginners, the elderly, and the disabled with aids like ramps and bumpers

You’ve also got to consider the possibility of waiting for something to be fixed by the staff. Bowling alleys are all controlled by mechanics, but that doesn’t mean something won’t go wrong.

If the ball is stuck in the gutter or the scoring monitor has frozen, you might need to spend time waiting for that to be fixed in order to play again. 

Skill Level Of Players 

The aim of bowling is to knock down as many of the ten pins as possible in the fewest shots.

This means that if you are playing with skilled bowling players, the game is likely to finish far faster than if you are playing with beginners. 

So, if you’re going to play with a bunch of beginners (or people who simply go bowling once or twice a year for fun), odds are that nobody is going to be scoring perfect strikes in every frame. 

How Long Is A Game Of Bowling?

Breakdown Of Bowling Time 

If you’re really worried about being pushed for time (say you’re going to the movie theater, or you’ve got a dinner reservation after the bowling game), then here’s a general breakdown of how long it takes to complete a game of bowling. 

It takes roughly 30-40 seconds for a player to pick up a ball, roll it, and knock down the pins twice in a frame.

It then takes about 30 seconds for players to switch over and wait for the pins to be placed down again.

If you’re doing it manually, it takes about 20 seconds to write down the scores from every frame. 

You could, in theory, record the time it takes to roll a ball down the lane, too.

However, this figure fluctuates depending on skill level and arm strength, so it’s not going to make a difference to the overall time.

Even if you’re a slow bowler, it’s still only going to take a matter of seconds for the ball to hit the pins.

So, let’s do some math with these timestamps. Say you’ve got about 80 seconds per player, 10 frames per player, and 4 players altogether.

This will amount to roughly 3,200 seconds of gameplay, which is around 53 minutes.

Keep in mind that this figure is a rough estimate, and a highly optimistic one at that, as it doesn’t count for variables like socializing.  

Taking in all the variables, you can expect to spend around 75-90 minutes per game of bowling. 

If you think about it, bowling is actually a very fast game.

The only reason a game of bowling takes a while is usually down to the social aspect, but if you’re playing in a group of professionals and avid bowlers, then the game isn’t likely to take long at all. 

How Many Games Can I Play?

You can play as many games of bowling as you have time for. Just keep in mind that bowling alleys typically book you in for a specific number of games to allow others to play. 

If you wanted to go bowling for an hour, then you can realistically only really play one game depending on how many players you go with.

If you go with fewer people, then it’ll take less time. Of course, it all depends on the speed of the players, so you might be able to squeeze in another game if you have enough time for it. 

The math itself is simple – the more people you play with, the longer it’s going to take to complete a game.

So, if you’re going with a large group of people, then you might want to only book one game at a time.

Booking two or three games might take far longer than you might think unless you want to spend a whole afternoon in the bowling alley!


So, there you have it! Bowling is an immensely fun activity for people of all ages, skill levels, and abilities.

A single game doesn’t take too long, but make sure to consider how many players are participating, as this will increase the time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Rounds Does A Bowling Game?

There are 10 rounds in a bowling game, with each round being known as a “frame”. Within each frame, players are given two shots at knocking down the pins.

Not only does this allow for a potential strike (when all ten pins are knocked down in a single shot), but also a spare, where all the pins are knocked down by the second shot. 

If you score a strike in the final frame, this will add another bonus shot to the frame. 

Drew Kaufner