Before we give you some tips on how to score more points in bowling, we first need to understand what an abat and a reserve are.

A strike is when you knock down all 10 pins on your first delivery of a frame. On the scoring screen, an abat is represented by an X. If you fail to knock down all 10 pins on your first throw, but knock them all down on your 2nd try, this is a reserve. The reserve is represented by a slash (” /” ) on the scoring screen.


An abat is worth 10 points for knocking down all 10 pins on the 1st throw, plus the sum of the pins knocked down on the next two throws. Here’s an example: an abat (10) followed by a throw that knocks down 7 pins and a 2nd throw that knocks down 2 pins will give a value of 19 points for the abat’s frame (10+7+2=19). If you make a 2nd strike on the 2nd throw and even a 3rd strike on the 3rd throw, the value of the 1st strike tile will be 30 points (10+10+10=30).

A spare is worth 10 points for knocking down all 10 pins in 2 throws, plus the number of pins knocked down in the next throw. Here’s an example: a spare (10) followed by a throw that knocks down 7 pins will give a value of 17 points for the spare tile (10+7=17). If you make a strike on the throw following the spare, the value of the spare tile will be 20 points (10+10=20).

So you understand that the values of the offal and the reserve are retroactive, and are based on the number of pins dropped on subsequent throws.


As in many sports, we’d love to make only the best shots and have perfect games. Imagine golf, curling, shuffleboard or darts; being able to throw straight down the middle every time. Yes, straight into the BoulZeye! On the other hand, succeeding on every shot and making off-cuts on demand could diminish your interest in bowling.

There are 5 reasons why your chances of making strikes every time are diminished. Here they are:

  • Anti-front. If you keep throwing in the middle of the lane and repeatedly hit the anti-front, you won’t make many strikes. So avoid the anti-front!
  • Speed. This has a big impact on small pins. Many people like to see the pins “explode” when the ball hits them, but this is a bad idea. It’s important to let the pins work on the lane after they’ve been hit by the ball. What’s more, the lanes are inclined towards the center, so if you don’t throw too hard, the ball will always tend to come back towards the center. As in billiards, when you hit the white ball on a coloured ball, it’s much easier at low speed than at high speed. It’s much more accurate! Bowling systems display the speed of your ball as it enters the pin deck, and generally speaking, speeds between 16 and 20 km/h are more effective.
  • Thumb. With small pins, your thumb is not necessary. It provides some stability when you hold your ball in the palm of your hand, but if you hold it in the air, it doesn’t impede the motion of the throw. So, does the thumb help rather than hinder your desire to make offal? That’s a question you have to ask yourself. There’s no hiding it: the thumb is definitely the strongest finger on the hand. When you throw, it tends to put weight on your ball. This weight, however small, can be detrimental to your shot. In short, take your thumb off the ball!
  • The hook. In small-pin bowling, players throw with the wrist upwards (inverted) or downwards (straight). A few use the hook as a throwing technique. This is more often seen on large pins, where the ball makes a big curve before hitting the pins. On small pins, it’s very difficult to make this throw and get a good result, as the lanes are oiled differently. The ball then tends to enter the pins towards one of the 2 corners at the end of the lane, taking with it several pins that were supposed to fall on the pins on the other side of the lane. This will leave more pins on the playing surface and often reserves that are difficult, if not impossible, to make. A word of advice: throw the ball in a straight line!
  • Full or thin. These two terms mean the result of a delivery that hits the first pin directly in the center of the lane (solid) or directly on one of the two ends (thin). On a full shot, the ball and pin travel in a straight line to the bottom of the lane, rather than knocking over all the pins. In a slim delivery, the ball and pin each deflect to one side, but at such a wide angle that they don’t knock down all the pins. Given that a small pin has a diameter of 8 inches, the ideal is for your ball to strike about 1.5 inches to the left or right of center.

To sum up, avoid the anti-front, don’t throw too hard, don’t throw too far into the center, throw straight and don’t play with your thumb. These are a lot of techniques to remember, but they can be achieved with concentration and regular practice. After all, no one gets better without effort! See you on the fairway!