How to Generate a Bowling Team Lineup

Put the Right Bowlers in the Right Order

Just like there’s strategy behind a baseball lineup (or at least there should be), rather than randomly inserting nine players into spots in the batting order, there is a strategy to creating your bowling lineup. Whether a three-, four- or five-person team, arranging your teammates in the optimum order can help you maximize your victories over the course of the season.

In almost every case, your best bowler will bowl last, known as the anchor position. How you fill your other bowlers in around your anchor could determine wins and losses for your team over the course of a season - a direct impact on your prize money.

Team Storm at the 2011 GEICO PBA Team Shootout
Team Storm from the 2011 GEICO PBA Team Shootout (l-r Ryan Shafer, Jason Belmonte, Wes Malott, Pete Weber, Norm Duke) is a formidable five-man bowling team. Photo courtesy of PBA LLC

A five-man bowling team is the most common team size in league bowling, and putting the right five people in the right spots in the lineup goes a long way in helping your team win. With a strong back end (your best bowler bowling fifth with another reliable bowler throwing fourth) and a quick-starting leadoff man, your five-man lineup can intimidate your opponents as early as the first frame of the night. If you start strong and your opponents start weak, your five scores can add up quickly and give you a large lead in the team total early on. Depending on the mentality of your opponents, such a quick start may be insurmountable. More »

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Forming a Four-Person Bowling Lineup

Getting ready for league bowling.
Getting ready for league bowling.

Four-person bowling teams are the next most common size, and the strategy is almost identical to that of a five-man team, with the obvious elimination of one bowler. Optimizing your foursome will not only help your team win points, but it can also help each bowler, when positioned correctly, to improve his or her average over the course of the year. That is, certain bowlers perform better in certain spots, and by learning where each team member performs best, then taking that into account with your lineup, it's possible for everyone to improve based on that alone.

As with five-person teams, a strong back end (your anchor and setup bowler) plus a quick-starting leadoff bowler will go a long way in helping you win points.

Pete Weber would make an excellent anchor for a trios team.
Pete Weber would make an excellent anchor for a trios team.

Not as common, but still available at bowling centers all over the world, are three-person teams, often referred to as trios. These leagues are often comprised of bowlers who like a quick pace and are usually less formal than four- or five-man leagues. The quick pace can play directly into your lineup, too.

The ideal lineup for a three-person team is fairly simple: put your best bowler last, your next best first and your third best second. Without a lot of bowlers to get in the way, your leadoff bowler can get your team off to a quick start. If he or she strikes, it will often inspire his or her teammates, and the anchor will be up in a matter of minutes to drive home the point your team is a trio to fear. More »