What Is a Strike and How Many Points Is It Worth? 

Bowling is more accessible than ever, with so many lanes dotted around what seems like every city it’s easier than ever to get stuck into the fun with a few friends and test your skills at rolling balls down the lanes.

There are a few important rules however to keep in mind especially when it comes to how many points you are scoring when hitting certain pins since this can dictate how you play and also proves to your friends just how skilled you really are at bowling.

What Is a Strike and How Many Points Is It Worth? 

A strike is one of the most common terms used in bowling and is what everyone should aim for when they are on the lanes regardless of if they are a beginner or more experienced. Here is everything you need to know about a strike and how many points they are worth if you hit one.

What Is A Strike In Bowling?

A strike is when a bowler knocks down all 10 pins with a single ball on the first delivery. This must be done on their first throw in a single frame, if a bowler misses at least one of the pins then they will get to have another ball to use for the frame to knock down the remaining pins which are then added to their score, but it will not count as a strike, instead this will be classed as a spare. 

The only time the 2 ball per frame rule does not apply is in the 10th frame where a bowler can get up to three balls bowled.

Strikes are generally considered to be the best result you can get in a frame since it is seen as quite difficult to knock down all pins in one with a single ball and so it is rewarded very highly.

How Many Points Is A Strike Worth?

A strike on its own will earn you ten points which will often show on the scoreboard as an X. However as a bonus, you will also earn the sum of your next two ball deliveries.

Therefore the points scored for the latter two balls after you made the strike will be counted twice and can net you a lot of points if your rolls remain accurate after hitting a strike. 

So say you were to bowl three strikes in a row but then gutter the rest of the game, your first frame would count as 30 points, your second frame 20, and the third 10 for a total of sixty points. 

Is A Strike Worth More Than A Spare?

A spare is knocking down all 10 pins in a frame similar to a strike, but with two balls instead of one.

This is usually considered a little easier to do and is why they are scored a little lower in terms of bonus points. If you knock down 10 pins with two balls you will still score 10 points, however unlike a strike you will only get bonus points adjacent to the first ball you throw after the spare has been recorded rather than the next two.

Therefore the total value of a spare would be 10 plus the value of the first shot you take after the spare itself, hitting a strike in this latter throw can earn you a maximum of 10 extra points. 

Best Technique To Hit A Strike

If you are a beginner, you should always prioritize having fun with bowling rather than trying to get too intense and pull off some techniques you may have seen some professionals use at some point.

However, if you are the competitive type and want to try scoring a few strikes in front of your friends, here are a few key pointers to help.

First, it’s very important to pick the right weighted ball, try a few out and try and find one that feels not too heavy to throw but still easy enough to roll at a good speed.

In fact, lighter balls are often the way to go when aiming for a strike simply because while heavier balls will cause the pins to fly in the air, lighter balls will cause them to hit each other which is the key to hitting a strike since the ball itself will not be able to curve and hit each individual pin.

Another key consideration is to focus on the arrows near the middle of the lane rather than the pins themselves. It is advised if you are a right-hand bowler to try and aim your ball for the second arrow from the right, and for lefties aim for the second from the left.

The reason this often works best is because lane oil is more often than not in the middle of the lane and throwing a ball near the outside will give it more traction when traveling down the entire lane.

This can take some time as so many bowlers will try this technique only for the ball to fall into the side gutters, but there’s no need to worry, after a bit of practice guiding the ball towards the middle from the sides can be picked up in no time.

And finally, always remember the power step. Usually, bowlers will take four steps leading up to the throw of the ball, and the power step is the second to last step which gives the body a bit more momentum and adds leverage to the arm swing giving a stronger release of the ball.

When taking a power step make sure your leg has a nice bend to it which will help you slide on the last foot you use to throw, just be careful not to cross the foul line while doing this as it can be an extremely easy mistake to make.

How To Calculate A Strike In Bowling

While most machines will handle the math for you at most bowling alleys, sometimes if you want to do the calculations yourself to work out how much more you need to get to beat other players, adding up strikes and their extra added points can take a bit more time.

The easiest way to think about it is to start with the strike in a single frame being 10 points, and on your consecutive frames simply add up the amount of pins you hit down with the 10 points from the strike.

What Is a Strike and How Many Points Is It Worth? 

So for example, if you hit a strike in frame 3 then this would be 10 points immediately, if then in frame 4 you hit down 4 pins with one throw and then 5 on the second, you would add this total of 9 to the standing 10 to make a total of 19 for frame 2.

The actual pins hit down in the frames after the strike frame still counts as their own scores, however. So in this case, for frame 4 you would still have a score of 9 which would be added to the final tally. 

This is what makes strikes so important to strive for in bowling, not only do they prove you know how to throw a ball with precision and efficiency, but they can also net you a huge amount of points by being able to pick up scores in multiple frames.

This is how professional bowlers can manage to reach points as high as 200 and 300 since they will try and score as many strikes as possible in order to ensure that their score gets multiplied as much as it can.

What Are Different Strikes Called?

A strike works the same in every bowling game and will net you ten points plus a bonus for the next two balls, however, the actual naming of hitting consecutive strikes in a row is quite interesting in itself.

Three strikes in a row are called a ‘Turkey’ and if this occurs in the first three frames it is sometimes referred to as a ‘Sizzling turkey’.

Four strikes in a row are called a ‘Hambone’ first coined by bowling broadcaster Rob Stone, while 5 in a row is called a ‘Brat’ referring to the number of bratwursts in a single pack. If you manage to hit six strikes in a row, this is often referred to as a ‘Wild turkey’.

12 strikes are extremely rare, even for the most renowned bowling professionals, however, if it is achieved it is labeled as a ‘Perfect game’ where you can score 300 points in total. 

A ‘clean game’ is when a player shoots at least one strike or spare in each frame.

Frequently Asked Question

What Is The Maximum Amount Of Points You Can Earn From Strikes?

Logistically, the highest possible score you can reach in bowling is 300 and this can only be done by playing a ‘Perfect game’ and scoring a strike on each frame.

This is extremely hard to pull off and even if you hit 10 strikes in a row, which is already incredibly impressive, you would still need to score a strike on all three of the 10th frame balls to reach 300.

Ben Ketola is the current world record holder for reaching a score of 300 in just 89 seconds in 2017 by using multiple lanes at once, a phenomenal achievement with precision and accuracy that most bowlers can only dream of one day. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you’re having a fun day out or are in a competitive environment, a strike is always the aim in bowling as it will not only net you the most points, but will show everyone around just how much your accuracy and technique have been improving, especially if you can hit a few in a row. 

Drew Kaufner