Is Bowling a Sport? 5 Concrete Reasons Bowling is a Sport!

bowling define sport

The basic definition for a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

If you want to know “is bowling a sport,” then here is a post with 6 solid reasons that going to the bowling alley, is much more to some than others. It is indeed a sport and the game is played with passion. Bowling requires skill, physical exertion, competition, and more.

Read on to see if you agree that the game of bowling is a true sport.


1) Bowling Takes Skill (A sport requires Skill)

To get a strike (knock down all 10 pins) you must roll the ball 60 feet to hit a target between the headpin and the next pin. You must hit the target area in the correct spot and you must do this 10 times out of 10 attempts.

This takes a great deal of skill to accomplish. Having a good aim is not something that comes naturally to many people. To knock down all the pins in one throw is truly challenging.

When rolling the bowling balls down the lane, you must also be careful not to go past the foul line. Also if the ball rolls too far to the right or left you will get a “gutter ball.”

This target is called the pocket and is a little more than 1 inch wide. The entry angle into the pocket must be just right. The oil patterns on the lane can also be wrong. Many games played in bowling centers where the house condition is less than optimal, can add to the complexity of the game.

Pro bowlers are akin to this high-pressure environment and know how to spot oil patterns that are unfavorable.

You may accomplish everything mentioned above, and yet one or two pins may remain standing. In order to increase the score of your bowling game, you must use the bowling ball and the bowling lane very accurately, in order to knock those 1 or 2 pins over.

Bowling pins at bowling machine

Doing so, will not result in as high of a score as if you would have knocked them all down in one shot (a strike), but will at least get you the remaining points (a spare).

House balls and improper bowling lanes add to the complexity of the situation. If you are in a bowling league, chances are that you have your own bowling ball, and play in decent bowling centers.

However, if you are just bowling for fun with your friends or family, chances are that the house ball they have provided is not very accurate.

Additionally, there are many types of lanes that produce different amounts of hook (curve) in the ball’s path. This makes it more difficult to knock down all 10 pins properly.

In order to bowl a perfect game, the player must have both physical and mental abilities. That means that you need to train your muscles as well as your brain in order to achieve a perfect score.

2) Physical exertion (A sport requires physicality)

Man strength training with kettle bells

Wrist strength, physical stamina, and the strength of launching a 16-pound bowling ball are all factors that must be met in order to successfully bowl a perfect game.

Back pain and hand cramps are fairly common for experienced bowlers, but the physical activity they put in is another reason why bowling is a sport. Casual bowlers may bowl a few games while drinking beer with some friends. League bowling on the other hand is more than a recreational activity.

Many bowlers participate in weight training in order to improve their physical needs for the game. In addition, holding your hand steady through the release of the ball will increase accuracy and decrease the chance of injury.

3) Team Bowling (Number one participation sport)

Bowling team celebrate victory in the competition

Tenpin bowling (ten pin bowling) has become the number one participation sport in the USA. As a recreational activity, it encourages competitive aspects of the game when people team up and play against one another.

Bowling can be a very competitive sport. A Ten pin bowling league is composed of teams that compete against one another throughout the year at various bowling lanes across the country.

United States Bowling Congress.

Bowling ball on alley

If you polish your bowling skills to a fantastic degree through united states bowling congress leagues, tournaments, and coaching, you might be chosen for Team USA, an exceptional group of the top American male and female amateur and professional bowlers who represent the United States in international bowling competitions.

The team of bowlers participates in several major competitions across the world, including the Pan American Games, World and Zone Championships, World Games, QubicaAMF World Cup, and others.

Members are also prominent ambassadors for the sport of bowling, making public appearances and offering bowling tips on a regular basis. The sport’s leaders continue to strive toward their aim of including bowling in the Olympic Games program.

This world governing body is responsible for world bowling championships.

There's no competition

4) Competition (A sport requires competitive aspects)

Just as in any other sport, there are rules. These rules must be followed for the game to officially count. There are also people who have different scores and different abilities on the lanes. This makes it a competition between you and your opponent(s).

Bowling is a great way to compete with friends and family members, or even alone! Inside of every bowler, there is a competitor. Even if that competition is between you and the lane.

Bowling is a great recreational activity but it can be so much more. To many, bowling is life!

Professional bowlers (Competitive Bowling)

The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) has over 8,000 members. PBA members are divided into 6 divisions with an average annual salary of $210,000 for male bowlers and $115,000 for women.

According to recent estimates, PBA memberships typically bring in $45,000 to $50,000 a year in sponsorship money. The best bowlers, however, make considerably more than that.

Even amateur tournaments pay well if you are really good at tenpin bowling. Competition with oneself and others to be at your best when it really counts is a common trait among great athletes and why bowling is a sport.

Rented ten pin bowling shoes
Rented ten pin bowling shoes

5) League bowlers and League play (A sport requires teams)

A bowling league is a group of people who bowl against each other over the course of a season. A league may be organized by a bowling alley or by private organizations. They provide a framework that allows amateur bowlers to compete against other bowlers of similar skill levels and playing abilities.

Bowling alleys that know that to make bowling a sport they need to support league bowlers. League bowling has come a very long way from lawn bowling. Other sports have had to work very hard to get to where they are today, but none have had an arduous path as the sport of bowling.


The bowling proprietors association (BPA) (formerly the American Bowling Congress or ABC, and sometimes still referred to as such) is a nonprofit association that sanctions bowling leagues in the United States and some other countries.

Some bowling leagues are organized around mechanical duckpin bowling, while others use tenpin bowling (the most popular type). There is an organization BPAA (bowling center proprietors) that makes it easy for bowling centers to thrive and offer more to their customers.

Most leagues consist of four-player teams that meet up once a week or once every other week, usually on the same day and time. Teams of three or five players are also common.

Leagues can be set up as male-only, female-only, or mixed. Four-person teams tend to be used in mixed leagues, while three- and five-player teams are more common in male-only and female-only leagues.

Leagues were established soon after the most modern types of bowling were created in the late 1800s. Leagues may be organized by bowling alleys or started up by people with a connection outside of bowling such as company, church, or labor union leagues.

Each session, each team in the league faces one other team. In most sport bowling leagues, each team plays three games per scheduled match. The players on a team usually bowl in a specific order and across two lanes, switching lanes after every frame. This way the bowlers on each team are equally exposed to favorable or unfavorable lane conditions.

After the first week of the league, the average for each player is set, and the average can go up or down after each subsequent session as more games are bowled. Though there are “scratch” leagues where only actual score counts, most leagues use the bowler averages to determine team and/or individual handicaps.

The handicap is the difference of the sum of averages between the two teams that are facing each other (sometimes then multiplied by a percentage, such as 90%), or an amount calculated from a score that is above the highest team average in the league so that each team gets a handicap amount. The handicap gives teams with lower averages a chance to compete against teams with higher averages.

What’s the difference between league bowling and sport bowling?

Bowling team celebrate victory in the competition

When people ask this I feel like saying “well, bowling is actually a sport!” But of course, there are differences between the two.

League bowling is done on special oil patterns designed to extend the lives of lane surfaces and help bring up scoring averages so that team averages are competitive. There are usually only two to three of these patterns in a bowling center, and they get changed after each league night.

In sport bowling, there is no oil pattern on the lanes at all – the center prepares the lanes for every new session by scrubbing them clean, applying a “lane dressing” which brings out more hook in the oil, adjusting the amount of oil applied to the lanes, and heating up the lane surface.

The first time a sport shot is made, especially one that’s not freshly cleaned, can be very different from what happens when it gets broke in on the league patterns.

Check out this short video on how to bridge the gap between sport bowling and league bowling.

6) Entertainment (A sport must be entertaining for spectators)

Is bowling a sport? It certainly is! Many spectators watch tournaments of ten pin bowling. They are challenged by the game. They watch their favorite bowlers compete against other top-notch bowlers at various bowling venues for ultimate bragging rights. The top-notch bowlers live in both professional and amateur divisions.

However, when you enjoy other sports like going to a basketball game, you normally can’t be anything but a spectator. The cool thing about bowling is that anyone can join in on this fun activity.

Your favorite bowling center will have you bowling in no time. Just head up to the desk and get your shoe rental and start tossing bowling balls. They will have all sizes of bowling balls there for you to choose from, so if you are new to the game (sport) they will have you covered.

It is an individual and/or team competitive activity in which you throw a ball down a lane to roll and knock down as many pins as possible so that your score will be better than your opponents! The game of ten pin bowling has transformed into quite the competition over time.

It is fun and something you can do with your whole family. It’s also a sport that you can take to the next is bowling a sport?

In short, I would say yes! Bowling is a sport that tests your skill and dexterity to the max! It can take years of practice to be able to experience a high average, but when you get there it’s all worth it. And if you’re someone who just enjoys spending time with friends and family at a

So… Is Bowling a Sport or not?

Bowling is a sport by the very definition used for the word sport. It takes skill, physical exertion, teams can play and compete and people watch competitions.

Even ninepin bowling is a sport. Nine-pin bowling is a type of bowling game that is popular in Europe. Championships are held each year in Europe. Check out some of the bonus content in this post and leave a comment about your favorite sports. If bowling is one of them, tell us the best game you ever played.

Bonus (Learn More About Olympic Games)

At one point, the bowling industry lobbied to have bowling recognized as a potential Olympic sport. However, this was not successful in the end.

A negative factor about bowling is that it can be expensive to learn how to do it well. And, sadly, bowling is not considered an Olympic sport.

However, bowling became an official demonstration sport with full medal status on August 2, 1991, at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba.

The medal-level competition has been held at every Pan American Games since then, including the 2019 Games that were recently hosted in Lima, Peru.

Ten Pins Vs Duckpins (Both are considered to be a sport)

So, what are the differences between 10 pin bowling and duckpins? 10 pin bowling is played with larger balls (usually weighing around 16 lbs) while duckpins use a smaller one. The pins in tenpin are also bigger while the pins in duckpins are smaller.

Tenpins bowling has 10 pins set up in a diamond shape with the apex of the ‘V’ pointing towards the bowler while duckpins have just five pins.

Extra points are given for strikes in tenpins while there is no bonus point in duckpins (so the game ends when all five pins are knocked down on the second roll).

Tenpin bowling is a lot more popular than duckpins but, still, bowling is a sport that can be enjoyed equally regardless of which game you decide to play.

Lawn Bowling

Tenpin bowling alley

Lawn Bowling is a game that you need to concentrate on to play well. It may look easy from the outside, but it takes years of practice for people to be good at it.

The balls used in Lawn Bowling are unbalanced, which means they are not symmetrical. It is a very challenging game because one side of the ball is not proportioned and the ball travels in a curved path.

The objective of the game is to place the ball near the target, called the jack.

So why do people think it’s not a sport?

Empty lanes in bowling alley

I would say it’s because you can do it while drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes while playing the game. Those 2 traits alone are not found in many other sports. You will find drinking less in sport bowling. And in collegiate tournaments, this is not a phenomenon that occurs in the game.

If you target bowling as a non-sport, then you are missing out on the clear path the game has taken to become one of the best sports in the country.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a little off the top to help me keep this website running. 

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