What is an Open Frame in Bowling? Impacts on Score

Like all other games, bowling also has its terminologies, which you are supposed to know before going to play. There are many questions regarding rules and terminologies that new players ask often. One of the most asked questions in bowling is what is an open frame in bowling

Bowling is played with different variations and scoring systems; the open frame is one of those. It is the basic bowling structure that is most widely played worldwide. The system in which the player is granted two strikes for knocking down all ten pins; if they fail, an open frame comes in. 

In this article, I will guide you about an open frame, its scoring system, rules and ways to minimize it. 

What Does Open Mean in Bowling?

Like the term “open”, it gives us the idea that something is left or still there. It occurs when some pins are left standing on the alley after the player is done with their turn. 

The scoring system in open situations differs from that in strike or spare situations. Let’s understand the rule first and then move to an open scoring system. 

1 – Understanding Open Frame Bowling

Like a rule of 31 in bowling, the open frame is another rule followed in the bowling game. First, know that one frame means the turn players take in bowling. In that one turn player is granted two consecutive ball throws in which they are supposed to knock all ten pins down the alley. 

If a player fails to knock down all the pins in two strikes, there is still one or more left standing. Contrary to strike and spare, which give a bonus to the player’s score, the open frame gives a number equal to the pins struck by the player.

2 – Understanding Scoring Rules

The scoring rules in an open frame differ according to the number of pins originally knocked down. In strike and spare, the player gets a bonus, but in an open frame, the knocked pins are the only score player gets.

Suppose, for example, in the first frame, a bowler knocks down eight pins but leaves two standing. If they knock down seven pins in the second frame, the total score from two frames will be 8+7+15 points. 

In an ideal situation where a player knocks down all ten pins in the first frame and the second, too, they will get 20 points, and there will be no open frame. It would help if you practiced getting struck every time in bowling to avoid an open frame. 

Minimizing the Open Frame

Professional players who learn to strengthen their bowling game use various techniques to avoid open frames. Here are some tips for playing and knocking down all the pins in one or two to avoid an open frame.

1. Strong Technique

The key is to develop persistent techniques to enhance accuracy, stance, and delivery right to the target. It will help you to bring down all ten pins in a single frame. Exercise your shoulder muscles and wrist movements to achieve perfection. Read the 4-step bowling approach to better understand the correct approach to release the bowling ball.

2. Spare Shooting

Enhancing your spare shooting skills is essential. Spare is the second shot you get in a frame, Practice spare conversions; it will help you to knock the remaining pins after the first shot accurately.

3. Enhancing Focus and Keen Eye

Keen eye and mental focus are necessary to achieve accuracy in bowling. Keep an eye on the lane condition, its surface, and the ball’s movement; if there are some changes, adjust your balance and swing force according to it. Read a comprehensive guide on how to aim in bowling to enhance your game experience.

4. Use a Spare Ball

Always go for a spare ball; it has a straighter trajectory and less hook potential. So, it will aid you in improving accuracy when targeting specific pins for spare conversions.

5. Lane Strategies

Ensure that lane conditions are proper to complement your shot and launch. If not, make necessary adjustments before playing; look for an oil pattern and get the ball rolling. Mix and match angle, ball speed, or throwing force according to the conditions for better results.

Disadvantages of Open Frame

No bonus pointsOpen frames do not receive any bonus points.
Decreased overall scoreFailing to knock down all pins affects the total score negatively.
Missed scoring opportunityOpen frames result in missed chances to maximize points.
Reduced momentum and confidenceFailing to convert a spare can lead to losing momentum and confidence.
Allows opponents’ advantageOpen frames provide opponents with an opportunity to gain an advantage.
Increased pressureBowlers may feel additional pressure to perform well in subsequent frames.
Lower chance of a high game scoreOpen frames decrease the likelihood of achieving a high overall game score.
Team score impactIn team competitions, open frames can lower the team’s overall score.
Reliance on strikes and sparesMore strikes and spares are needed to compensate for open frames.
Mental focus and concentrationOpen frames can impact a bowler’s mental focus and concentration.

Wrap Up

Now you are fully aware of what an open frame in bowling is and how to escape from such a situation. Open frame occurs when you fail to strike down teen pins in a single frame, resulting in scores equal to the number of pins struck down. Practice and focus on lane conditions to avoid open frames in bowling games to score more.

Share your frequency of facing open frames in a bowling game and how you overcome it.


A bowling game with no open frame is termed a clean name; it makes your image strong as a bowler. The more skilled you are the chances of a clean game increase. 

Normally, a bowling game contains ten frames; every single frame allows two shots to one player; in those two shots, a player is supposed to take down ten pins. You can decide your frame turn order in a game with more than one player.

After completing nine frames, players receive extra strike after strike or spare in the tenth frame depending on the game conditions.

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