What Constitutes A Foul In Bowling – 3 Must Follow Rules

Bowling is a simple sport however there are some rules that if you break, you may create difficulty in your game. 

As a beginner or intermediate in bowling if you still don’t know what constitutes a foul in bowling then you seriously need to work on your basics.

Don’t worry anymore, this guide is only designed to solve all these queries related to fouls whether it’s crossing the foul line, illegal pinfalls, or shot knock fouls.

After reading this guide, you will able to understand what are the different types of fouls in bowling, and how to fix these violations that cause breaking the rules.

what constitutes a foul in bowling

Definition Of Foul In Bowling – What Constitutes A Foul In Bowling:

According to USBC mentioned in rule 5 of the book, the most common foul in bowling is that any player in the bowling touches or crosses the line that draws from one gutter to another will be counted as a foul.

After committing a foul, the knock pins score will not be credited on your scoreboard and you will have been given a second chance to bowl to continue the game unless you bowl it correctly on that play. 

Types Of Fouls In Bowling

Any sport becomes more interesting and competitive when the player is punished for breaking the basic rules of games.

Likewise other sports, bowling is straightforward and there are several rules to play the game correctly otherwise it will consider a foul.

Following are mentioned a few fouls of bowling

Crossing The Foul Line

Among the other fouls, crossing the foul line is considered a common and well-known foul among the bowlers however there is some misconception that needs to be understood.

Crossing the line foul will be considered when the bowler touches or cross the line that is just drawn between the gutter of the lane. If any of the body parts touch the lane while losing your motion will also lead to a foul unless anything(keychain, coin or wallet, etc.) that drops from your pocket will not count as a foul.

However, when you just cross the line but didn’t release the ball, now in such a scenario it will not be treated as a foul and the game will be redone to continue it again.

Shot Clock Foul

In bowling, it should be made sure that every player takes their time.

While bowler playing a game, there is a timer set for each frame, probably 30s but it depends on the bowling alley.

 In such case, the bowler should be ready for the next shot and release the bowling ball within the timer otherwise if you hear any buzzer then the shot will not be counted and you have to be ready for another one.

What Is A Frame In Bowling

There are 10 frames in each game and in each frame you have two chances to knock the pins. If you miss knocking all the pins on the first try, you can strike the remaining pins with a spare shot. The more you pin knock down the more you get score. 

Illegal Pinfalls

An illegal pinfall is also considered a foul when the pins knock without touching your bowling ball or other pins.

If your bowling ball touches the gutter, rear cushion or any inappropriate way that causes the pinfall will be treated as a foul but if the pinfalls by any error and there are no faults of bowlers then your game will be resumed.

What Are The Effects Of Foul On Game?

When the player common fouls during bowling, there will be no score credited on the scoreboard but the delivery of the bowl counted. 

If the bowler constitutes a foul in the first bowl of the frame then the game will be reset and you will have a second chance to bowl but somehow if you knock all the pins on the second bowl, the shot will be considered a spare otherwise it will be an error if the bowler strikes less than 10 pins.

What Is The Purpose Of Bowling Shoes?

To prevent fouls while bowling, bowling shoes can play a major role. Most importantly bowling shoes help to maintain the bowling lane from the mess, dust, grass, or anything that normal shoes can harm the lane texture. 

Furthermore, the normal shoes will cause an unexpected stop to your motion and may be brought to any injury. On the other hand, bowling shoes keep assist you to move smoothly with better sliding facilities also these should be specially designed for the bowling lane that keeps secure them.

Implement Appropriate Way To Bowl

There are some people who understand and know the several types of fouls but still unconsciously constitute a foul in bowling. 

Following is the method to play a legal way to bowl.

  • Pick the appropriate bowling ball weight, most of the time bowlers lose their motion just because of Choosing the wrong bowling ball weight. Select a bowling ball that is just 10% weight of your body.
  • Hold a bowling ball with a comfortable grip not tightly and release the bowling ball by straightening their arms near to your body.
  • Follow the 4-step approach and acquire aim in bowling by seeing arrows on the lane instead of pins.

Related Questions

Can You Throw A Bowling Ball From Behind The Foul Line?

In bowling, the bowler should release the bowling ball behind the foul line otherwise if the bowler cross or touches the line, it will count as a foul that will leads you to no score in that shot.

How Do You Record A Delivery If No Pins Are Knocked Down In Bowling?

The single game consists of 10 frames and each frame contains two chances to knock the pins if somehow you didn’t knock any pins on the second shot of the delivery, the scoreboard is updated with (-) right away.

What Are 3 Rules In Bowling?

To keep the game remain competitive, the USBC mentioned 3 rules in bowling and if you break these rules whether it’s crossing the foul line, shot clock foul or illegal pinfalls there will be no score counted for that delivery.


In bowling, you also have to strictly follow the rules and regulations just like any other sport and if you break these rules then this will count as a foul and the consequences of this result will have some penalty on your game.

In order to compete with the opposite player, you should know what constitutes a foul in bowling. These 3 rules whether it’s crossing the lane, shot clock foul, or illegal pinfalls each will consider a foul if break them.

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