How to Calculate Your Bowling Average

It's Key to Figuring Out Your Handicap

Computer in bowling alley
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Bowling averages are essential in league play, especially handicap leagues, since your average is needed to determine your handicap. The United States Bowling Congress doesn't officially recognize an average until you've bowled 12 games, but you can calculate your average based on any number of games.

Finding Your Average

To calculate an average, you need some scores. So bowl three games to get the hang of it and figure out how you're doing.

To find your official average, of course, you will need to bowl a total of 12 games since that is what the Bowling Congress requires to calculate your average. Then add up your scores. Say you bowl three games of 150, 181 and 136. Add those scores: 150 plus 181 plus 136 equals 466. Divide by the number of games, which in this example is three. So you divide 466 by 3. 466 divided by 3 equals 155.3. You've come up with a fraction, and bowling scores are typically rounded down, ignoring anything on the right side of the decimal point. In this case, your average is 155.


Calculating Your Handicap

Now, about that handicap, for which your average is key. The same bowling scoring system is used by all leagues and in all tournaments, but leagues and tournaments might use different basis scores and percentage factors, which are used to calculate your handicap. The handicap basically levels the playing field a bit, or the bowling lanes, in this case, so that you can have a bit better chance when playing against bowlers or leagues who best you in the skills department.


First, you find out the basis score and percentage factor that's being used in your situation. A basis score is a very high score that is usually higher than a bowler's average, usually ranging from 200 to 220. The percentage factor ranges from 80 to 100 percent.

To calculate your handicap, subtract your average from the appropriate basis score and then multiply by the percentage factor.

So for example, if your average is 150 and the basis score is 200, your subtraction result is 50. You then multiply that by the percentage factor. For this example, use 80 percent as the factor. That result is 40, and that is your handicap. In scoring a game, you would add your handicap of 40 to your actual score to find your adjusted score. For instance, if your game score was 130, you would add your handicap of 40 to that score to find your adjusted score, 170.