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How to Calculate Your Bowling Handicap


Computer in bowling alley
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A bowling handicap makes leagues fair and competitive for everyone from an absolute beginner to an expert. With a handicap, a less talented bowler who achieves his average will defeat a better bowler who comes in under his own average.

The league secretary will calculate your handicap for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand how a handicap is calculated.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: A few minutes

Here's How:

  1. Determine your average. In league bowling, a minimum of three games is required to establish an average. To calculate your average, take the total number of pins and divide by the number of games. If you scored a total of 480 through three games, your average is 160 (480 divided by three).
  2. Determine the basis score. Ask your league secretary, as the basis score varies from one league to the next. Ideally, the basis score will be higher than the highest average in the league. A typical basis score might be 210. Many leagues will take a percentage, for example 90%. If you ask your league secretary what the basis score is, you might hear, “90% of 210.”
  3. Subtract your average from the basis score. If your average is 160 and your basis score is 210, subtract 160 from 210. 210 – 160 = 50.
  4. Multiply by the percentage. Take 90% (or whatever percentage your league uses) of the difference between your average and the basis score. 50 x .9 = 45. Your handicap is 45.


  1. Your handicap will fluctuate from week to week. The basis score won’t change, but your average might.
  2. Some leagues use 80%, some 90%, and some 100%. Always remember to subtract your average from the basis score before multiplying by the percentage.
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