Professional Bowling Rules Questions

Okay, so I went bowling last night with a buddy and we started talking about the rules the pro bowlers have to follow. (yes, we are exciting people…) Anyway, I guess I could google and figure all this stuff out, but I know many other dopers MUST be interested in professional bowling, so here goes:

  1. How often can a pro bowler change bowling balls during a game? Can he/she change to a heavier ball or a lighter ball or whatever, whenever they want? Is there any possible advantage to this? (from my experience a heavier ball rolls “truer” and makes is easier to pick up 1 pin spares, but i’m not a great bowler)

  2. Is there a time limit for him/her to bowl within? Like 2 minutes from the time the frame is reset, or is it just common courtesy?

  3. you know when you hit a pin and it spins off its spot but stays standing? how is this treated for the pros? ie. move back to original spot on the reset or the nearest position? What is the machine knocks it down - guess it gets reset too?

  4. Is there a maximum/minimum weight allowed for balls? I’ve seen 16 pound balls but what if you wanted the big bertha 18 pounder, do they have 'em?


There is a limit to the number of balls that can be brought to a tournament (IIRC 16) and then from these they must pick the ones they want to use in the matches(IIRC 4.) Each ball must be weighed by the PBA prior to the tournament start. The advantage is that professionals usually have balls for different lane conditions. So they have a strike ball for oily lanes and then a different one for drier lanes as the match progresses and then a spare ball that they can throw straight for those one pinners.

There is a limit. I forget what it is but they cannot take as long as they please.

If the setter knocks it down then they have a pin marshall to reset it.

16 is the max limit - the lightest ball I have ever seen is a 5 pounder for kids. The heavier the ball the greater the pin action and the more likely to knock down pins. Those really light balls get stuck in the machines and crunched quite often.

On televised PBA matches, there’s a 25 second shot clock.

The penalty is a fine which doubles for each violation.

The American Bowling Congress has more information on bowling rules that you’d probably ever want to know.

Personally, I was surprised to learn that switch-bowling isn’t allowed. Or at least, you need to get permission from the other bowlers to do it.

Thanks for the responses - I scanned the records too, that Jeff Carter guy is a bowling STUD! 76 career 300 games, etc. etc.! I was shocked – shocked – to see that FIVE guys have had 3 perfect 300 games IN A ROW!!! During a tournament nonetheless! phew! Talk about being a robot and not letting the pressure get to you…


What is switch-bowling?