Do You Have to be Good to Join a Bowling League?

The Facts on Bowling Leagues and Talent Levels

New York City WTT KingPins
New York City WTT KingPins, the 2013 Elias Cup Champions. Photo courtesy of PBA LLC

Let's get the short version of the answer out of the way right now: no, you don't have to be good to join a bowling league. Some people are nervous about trying new things in general, especially anything competitive, not knowing if they're good enough to fit in with the group.

Leagues for Everyone

If you're not confident in your ability, you should ask questions about which league to join before signing up.

Your local bowling-center proprietor will be glad to help you with this.

There are leagues set up to be extremely competitive, and typically only the top bowlers in the area (or the people who think they're the top bowlers in the area) will participate. Typically, these types of leagues use scratch scoring, meaning a bowler with a 120 average is going to have an extremely hard time competing with a bowler with a 200 average.

If you're just in it to have fun and throw a few games a week, there are plenty of handicap leagues all around the world. In these leagues, your actual scores are added to your handicap (learn how to calculate your handicap), making every game winnable for you or your opponent. Even if your average is 120 and your opponent's average is 200, your handicap will be much higher, making it an even match. If you're not interested in receiving free pins on your score just because your average is lower than someone else's, you can look for a scratch league open to bowlers of all skill levels who simply bowl for fun.

The main decision you need to make is whether you want to bowl to compete or to have fun. If the former, you have to be willing to accept bowlers who want to crush you (metaphorically, of course). You'll need to be prepared for trash talk and the occasional flared temper.

Pressure-Free Fun

Because there are so many available leagues, you will not have trouble finding one that has just the right amount of competitiveness for you.

Some people love a lot of competition and some don't want any at all. Whether you're in either group or somewhere in between, you'll be able to find a league in which you can bowl for fun and thoroughly enjoy yourself without worrying about whether you're good enough or not.

Simply put: everyone is good enough to bowl. Find a league that has just the right amount of competitiveness for you, and it won't matter if you routinely throw perfect games or if you've never thrown a single strike. You will have fun.

Still Worried? What Does "Good" Mean?

If you average 120 and bowl in a league with a bunch of people who average 100, you are beyond good. If you average 120 and bowl in a league with people who average 200, you're not so good. The point: it's all relative. Because there are so many leagues available, most of which incorporate handicaps to level the competition among all bowlers, you should not use your talent level as a reason to join or not to join a bowling league.

Why should you join a bowling league? Here are the Top 10 Reasons to Join a Bowling League.