What do you do when the sweep bar is down on your bowling lane? Is it bad manners to scream words of encouragement from the seating area? How do you ensure a great bowling experience for your teammates and other people in your local bowling center?

Proper bowling etiquette isn’t about following the rules just to do so. It’s about making your favorite bowling alley a less dangerous and distracting place for friends and strangers alike!

The next bowler deserves just as much of a chance to enjoy their time as any other person that steps up to a foul line. To ensure that the game of bowling is inviting (and fun) for bowlers of all ages and skill levels, we all must pay attention and show common courtesy on the lanes.

With that being said, let’s dive into twelve of the key do’s and don’ts for strike artists and spare magicians around the world.

From Bowling Shoes To Good Manners, Here are 12 Tips To Better Bowling Etiquette

1) Good bowling requires concentration, so allow other bowlers to concentrate

While it’s fun to cheer on your friends and enjoy each other’s company at the lanes, it’s bad form to yell and scream during someone’s turn nearby. You don’t want other people to throw you off during your approach. Be mindful of your timing and let everyone hit their marks without getting distracted.

2) If two nearby bowlers reach the approach at the same time, the bowler on the right should get the first crack.

When two cars get to an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right should always go first. That’s the same thing in bowling! When two nearby bowlers cross into their respective approach areas at the same moment, the bowler on the right should get first dibs at taking their shot. It keeps the action going and limits pesky approach delays that throw everyone off their games.

3) Treat your local bowling alley with respect. Bowling centers are for everyone to enjoy!

Don’t make a mess and expect someone else to come and clean it up. When you drink, keep your cups together and either buy them yourself or make it easy for whoever busses tables later. Don’t throw your belongings everywhere, taking up space for other bowlers and making life harder on those managing and maintaining the bowling center experience. Be respectful of the space and those utilizing it and everyone will benefit.

4) Try to use no more than two bowling balls — one bowling ball for strikes and one for spares.

Don’t crowd the ball return for players on your lane and the adjacent lane. If you have your own ball and you use it for strikes and spares, don’t add house balls to the equation. If you need a strike and a spare ball, remove any other balls from the return area to be courteous to other bowlers around you. The more space on the machine for everyone, the better the entire bowling experience will be!

5) Always wear proper shoes in the bowler’s area

Wearing street shoes in the approach area is a big no-no! Even walking on the specialized area with outdoor shoes could end up dirtying or ruining the surface for other bowlers. Either spend the extra few dollars to rent some house shoes or invest in your own pair of kicks. You’ll be glad you did

6) Contact your bowling alley operator about equipment problems

Is the pin-setting machine malfunctioning? Are you waiting on the sweep bar to lift? Has the lane failed to reset after your latest come-from-behind win against your friend? Don’t risk causing damage to your local bowling center with an ill-time shot! Communicate with the operator on duty if any technical problems arise. They’re likely to be easy fixes.

7) Mind excessive movement that could become a safety hazard for other players.

If you’ve bowled enough games in your life, you’ve dealt with a haphazard bowler who veers into other people’s approach areas with reckless abandon. This isn’t just bad bowling etiquette. It’s a dangerous lack of awareness that can turn a game of bowling into multiple hospital visits. Bowlers are working with heavy equipment while performing unnatural movements. One slight slip or collision could lead to sprains, breaks, or much worse. Pay attention to the space of the bowlers around you to keep their safety and your safety as a top priority.

8) Casual bowlers deserve just as much respect as experts at the bowling center

Bowling is a sport, but it’s also a game. And, it’s a game that people of all ages and skill levels love to play. When you bowl on a certain night, you’re playing with and around people that are likely there for different reasons. Some people just want to drink and play. Some people want to test their skills. Some people are looking to make a career at the foul line. All reasons to play are valid and are worth respecting. Don’t shame someone or make them feel bad for not doing things as you do them. It’s a basic rule of bowling etiquette that can make or break someone’s night out.

9) Don’t bring food and drinks into the bowling area.

Beverages and food items don’t belong in the approach area or anywhere near a bowling lane. No one wants to step in something sticky when they bowl or deal with a ball return covered in fry grease. Feel free to eat and drink to your heart’s content in the provided seating areas of a bowling lane. Then, wipe your hands off as well and head to the approach area. Keeping food and bowling separate is cleaner and safer for all of us.

10) Stay off the approach until you are ready to bowl.

Wait until the bowlers in the lanes to your immediate left and right have finished their turns to enter your approach area. If you’re impatient and stand in the playing area during their turns, it could lead to major approach delays that slow everything down for everyone. You’ll get your chance to attack the pins. Just be chill and wait your turn.

11) Don’t use someone else’s ball without their consent.

This is Bowling Etiquette 101. Even if a fellow bowler on an adjacent lane is using a house bowling ball, it’s really bad manners to use their ball without asking first. And, it’s even a bigger faux pas if you use their personal bowling ball. It’s a matter of respecting personal property, regardless of whether they own the ball or not. It doesn’t hurt to ask if you really want to try a ball out. You might even build a connection talking about bowling by doing so. But, using someone else’s ball is a fundamental show of bowling disrespect that usually leads to unnecessary tension on the lanes.

12) Good sportsmanship means winning with class and being a gracious loser.

Be a good sport whether you finish in first, second, or last place. Talking trash is fun if everyone is on board, but acting like a jerk doesn’t do anyone any good. True bowling etiquette makes a bowling center worth coming back to for bowlers of different stripes. If you’re acting up and treating people disrespectfully, throwing a bowling ball becomes a chore for those who have to deal with you. And, that’s a pity considering how fun it is to play this game we love!