No-Tap Bowling Scoring

It's the same as regular bowling with a small difference

Bowling alley and pin
David Sacks/The Image Bank/Getty Images

In standard bowling, it's pretty plain and simple—a strike is a strike. Your ball smashes through all 10 pins on a single throw. You not only get 10 points for that frame, but you also receive scoring bonuses for the next two rolls you make.

But that's standard bowling. In no-tap bowling, the scoring rules change a little. 

How No-Tap Bowling Works 

In no-tap bowling, strikes are awarded for any pin count at or above a certain score.

For example, any bowler who knocks down nine or more pins on his first ball is awarded a strike when you're playing nine-pin no-tap. Nailing all 10 pins is not necessary. Either nine or 10 pins will count as a strike, and likewise, if you knock down the remainder to get all nine with your second throw, it's a spare. 

Nine-pin is the most common form of no-tap bowling, but it's not unheard of to come across eight-pin no-tap competitions where any score of eight or above counts as a strike. There are even seven-pin no-tap competitions. Technically, you could set up a no-tap event all the way down to zero-pin, but there would be no point in doing so.

There's also a variation out there known as "suicide" no-tap bowling. If you do actually manage to knock down all 10 pins, this is effectively the same as a gutter ball—zero points. Only the determined pin count is scored as a strike.

What's the Point? 

No-tap formats effectively give weaker bowlers a handicap.

They're occasionally used for pro-am tournaments or during recreational leagues or events. No-tap bowling is often used to help those who are not as talented bowl with more skilled bowlers on a level playing field. For example, a youth league might have an end-of-year party in which the kids bowl with their parents in an eight-pin no-tap format.

This gives the kids a better chance of keeping up with the adults.

The same theory is used in pro-am tournaments when regular schlubs try to compete with PBA bowlers. A no-tap format makes it less lopsided and potentially embarrassing. It's not uncommon for good bowlers to achieve a 300 game or better with this type of format, and bowlers of less experience and talent can also do quite well. 

Scoring a Game of No-Tap Bowling

The scoring method is exactly the same as for standard bowling scoring when the no-tap rule is in place. Assuming you're not playing suicide no-tap, if you're participating in a nine-pin game and you throw a 9 or 10, you're given the strike and your turn is over. That frame is then added to your score as a strike and you are entitled to the regular scoring bonuses that would come with a strike in a regular game.

If you fail to knock down the requisite number of pins in a no-tap game, it's the same as if you had done so in a regular competition. You scored an open. Not good. 

Obviously, the difference in points between a no-tap challenge and a regular bowling competition increases as fewer pins are required for a strike. Scores can skyrocket in seven-pin competitions, but not as much in nine-pin challenges.

And, of course, suicide matches tend to lower scores considerably.