What Constitutes A Foul In Bowling – 3 Must Follow Rules

As a beginner or intermediate in bowling if you still don’t know what constitutes a foul in bowling whether you’re a pro or a newbie, knowing about fouls is important to keep the game fun and fair.

In bowling, a foul occurs when you break the rules, like stepping over the line or onto the lane. If you foul, your roll doesn’t count and you might lose points. To avoid fouls, remember to stay behind the line and on the proper part of the lane when you’re rolling the ball.

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.

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

1. Crossing The Foul Line

shoes for bowling

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.

2. Shot Clock Foul

Okay, so you know how you have a certain amount of time to roll the ball? If that time runs out and you haven’t rolled it yet, you might get a penalty. It’s like a little timeout.

To avoid this, try practicing how long it takes you to roll the ball comfortably. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to roll the ball within the time limit without any problems.

3. 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.

Tips to Avoid Fouls in Bowling:

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Try practicing your timing. Imagine you’re doing a dance move – you want to be in the right place at the right time. It’s the same with bowling. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at rolling the ball within the time limit.
  • Hold the Ball Right: Hold the ball comfortably, not too tight or too loose. And remember, the ball is your friend, so treat it nicely.
  • Look Where You Want to Go: When you’re rolling the ball, look at where you want it to go. Your eyes are like magic guides that help the ball hit those pins.
  • Bowling Ball weight: 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.
  • Appropriate Bowling Stance: By adopting the correct stance, you can minimize fouls in your game, significantly improving timing, consistency, and the balance of your throw. You can follow a 4-step bowling approach to significantly enhance your game.

What Are The Effects Of Foul On Game?

The effects of a foul include a score of zero for that throw, disrupting the player’s rhythm, and potentially affecting their subsequent throws.

Any pins knocked down before the foul are not counted, emphasizing the importance of accurate footwork. Foul rules contribute to sportsmanship and fair play in the game.

What Is The Purpose Of Bowling Shoes?


Bowling shoes are important because they help you slide and stay steady on the bowling lane. They have special soles—one for sliding and one for gripping—that make it easier to throw the ball accurately.

These shoes also keep the lane clean and safe, and they’re only supposed to be worn on the lanes. So, bowling shoes are like your special shoes for playing bowling, making sure you have a good time while staying safe and in control. Read in details why do you have to wear bowling shoes and other importance in the game.

Technology and Fouls

Now, here’s the cool part. Some bowling alleys have super-smart sensors and cameras. These things watch to see if you’re rolling the ball at the right time and if it’s hitting the pins. They’re like bowling detectives who make sure everything is fair.

Also, there are special balls with tiny computers inside them. These computers tell you how you’re doing – a bit like a bowling coach that fits in your pocket.

So, remember, bowling is about having fun, and with a little practice and help from technology, you’ll be a bowling champ in no time!


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.

Related Questions

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.

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.

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.

Similar Posts