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How Long Does a Game of Bowling Take for 1 or More Bowlers?

This image is of a group of friends at the bowling alley.

New to bowling? It’s a unique sport with special rules, equipment, and more. So, it makes sense that newbies would wonder how long a bowling game lasts.

There are several things that determine a bowling game’s length, and knowing about them can help you plan your next bowling trip. In this article, we’ll tell you how long does a game of bowling take and six things that can stall the game.

How Long Does a Game of Bowling Take

How long does a game of bowling take? Professional bowlers can usually complete their turn in about a minute. Casual bowlers can complete a frame in about two minutes. However, it’s not uncommon for newer players to take as much as 5 minutes per frame.

Since there are 20 frames in a two-player regulation game, two professionals might only take 20 to 25 minutes to finish an average game of bowling. However, two newer bowlers might take much longer – between 40 minutes and an hour and a half to complete all ten frames.

The game’s length will also vary depending on the number of players participating. If we assume that the players are professionals and take about one minute per frame, we can estimate the following times:

  • For a single-player, a single game may last as little as ten minutes to 15 minutes.
  • For two bowlers, one game will take between 20 and 25 minutes.
  • Three players may take between 30 and 35 minutes to complete their game.
  • Four bowlers may take between 40 and 50 minutes to complete their game.
  • Six players might take as much as an hour and fifteen minutes to complete a game.

These estimated game times will be extended based on the players’ level of expertise. Newer/novice players may take two to five times longer to complete a game overall.

More experienced players will help to speed up the game when teamed up with beginners since their turns will be shorter, reducing the overall length of the game played.

They can also help beginners become acquainted with the game faster and speed up their play times.

Image is of a stop watch at 60 seconds. As it relates to the bowling, it signifies how long does a game of bowling take.

The Structure of a Bowling Game

A game of bowling is broken down into ten turns (called “frames”). In each frame, a player has two turns throwing the bowling ball down the lane.

The aim of the game is to knock down as many bowling pins as possible. Points are based on the number of pins knocked down. The remaining pins are considered an open frame.

A player’s turn is usually over after they knock down all the pins during a frame or roll twice and fail to clear all the pins.

The image is of a bowling ball striking ten pins.

7 Things that Could Stall Your Bowling Game

Casual and professional bowlers alike realize that some games go on for longer than others. If you belong to either of those groups, you probably want to know why that happens.

There are several things that stall bowling games, and we’ll get into each of them below:

1. Tactics

Some bowlers throw their bowling balls softly as part of their bowling strategy. These players see the game less as a strength-based affair and focus more on precision. This bowling tactic can lead to longer games, although they may only add a few minutes to the overall game time.

2. Breaks for Food and Drinks

Concession stands make a lot of money from hungry and thirsty bowlers, but getting food and drinks does add a bit of time to your bowling game. Bowlers may snack on finger food or opt for a meal with burgers or pizza to accompany their drinks. Depending on how long players take to eat and drink, the game’s time could be extended for quite a bit longer.

3. Focus

A casual game of bowling might not be important to everyone in attendance. When this happens, one or more players may not even be following the game.

In casual and social settings, bowling is just a backdrop for conversation, and there’s little real focus on the game itself. If you have to get your friend’s attention or look for them every time it’s their turn, it’s going to be a long game.

4. Strikes vs. Spares

While professionals might be able to bowl strikes and move quickly through their frames consistently, that’s not the case for everyone. Casual players usually need to take both throws to try to pick up spares.

The second throw in a frame will take a bit more time since you have to wait for the machine to return the ball and the pinsetter to remove the fallen pins. Strikes make a frame go by faster; the more strikes you and your friends score, the shorter the game will be.

5. Malfunctions

Sometimes, machine malfunctions might interrupt a game. In newer bowling alleys, this isn’t likely to happen, but with older equipment, it may be pretty common. Malfunctions could add some time to a game; if the bowling alley staff can’t fix the problem, the players might need to move to another lane.

Switching bowling lanes takes quite a bit of time since you need to re-input everyone’s names into the scoring machine and take your balls and belongings to the new lane.

6. Distractions

Many bowling alleys diversify, offering arcade games, billiards, and more to attract and retain customers. The downside of this diversification is an increase in distractions for casual players.

It’s not uncommon to find a player wandering off when it’s not their turn to play an arcade game. The other players will then need to find the lost player before continuing the bowling game.

7. Group Size

How many bowlers are in the group? Group size matters and the more people playing on a lane is more time each bowler has to wait until their turn. Each person adds roughly three-five minutes to the game, depending on their experience.

Each of the above timewasters can put a damper on your game if you’re not prepared. Even with a large group and searching for the perfect house ball and getting shoes adds time. It’s never fun to rush through a bowling game. So, it’s important to factor in a little extra time just in case.

This image is of 3 bowlers that are distracted. One guy is chatting while holding his bowling ball. The guy is sitting chatting and the third person is looking at the scoring console.

How to Reduce Your Bowling Game Time

The sheer number of timewasters you may encounter during a bowling match might make you wonder how anyone completes a game in the first place!

Luckily, players can speed up their playtime in a few ways.

Use More Than One Lane:

You’re not limited to a single lane. You could pay for two lanes to make the game move faster if you have the spare cash and there are lanes available. With two lanes operating in tandem, you’ll have speedier games.

Especially with larger groups of five players or more, players won’t have to wait very long for their turn to come around, and they’ll be less distracted as a result, further reducing the game time.  

Reduce The Number of Frames

Another excellent option for reducing your bowling game time is to reduce the number of frames you play. Instead of the standard ten-frame match, players can opt for a casual game of five or seven frames as a complete game.

This reduces the overall game time since players roll fewer frames in all.

Mix Up Skill Levels

One of the most effective ways of shortening your bowling game time is to consider everyone’s skill level. If you’ve got a mix of experienced and inexperienced players, split them up strategically.

Putting experienced players with inexperienced players saves time. If all the inexperienced players are all on the same lane, their games will take much longer.

Play Multiple Rounds

Reducing the number of players participating in the game will speed it up even more. If you have too many players for a single match, consider splitting them up into two different rounds with two to four players each.

Next Player Button

Most scoring screens have a skip or next player option. In times when a game needs to continuously move and the player is not available, they can be skipped.

How to Increase Bowling Ball Speed

Related Articles

Some bowling matches seem to go on forever. But as you have read, you can speed things up with just a few tweaks to your gameplay. Limiting the number of elements stalling your game will help you finish your games faster.

We hope that this article has been helpful to you, and we encourage you to have fun no matter how long your bowling games last.