1 – Introduction
1.1 General
1.2 Membership
1.3 Benefits
1.4 Equipment
1.5 Contact Information

2 – Universal Playing Rules
2.1 Game Definitions
2.2 Style of Play
2.3 Legal Pinfall
2.4 Illegal Pinfall
2.5 Other Pin Actions
2.6 Dead Ball
2.7 Bowling on Wrong Lane
2.8 Foul Definitions
2.9 Provisional Ball
2.10 Bowling Ball, Altering Surface
2.11 Approaches Must Not Be Defaced
2.12 Errors in Scoring
2.13 Protests
2.14 Additional Tournament and League Information
2.15 Requests for Rule Changes

Appendix A – Equipment Specifications
A.1 Bowling Balls
A.2 Drilled Bowling Balls
A.3 Two-Handed Techniques
A.4 Testing/Approval Disclaimer




1.1 General
The PBA League Bowler Certification program is a national membership program that will offer league bowlers a multitude of benefits. These league bowler benefits will fall under four key pillars - statistics, tournaments, awards and rules. These Universal Playing Rules are for PBA LBC Leagues and Tournaments, including the PBA LBC National Championships. For specific rules for the PBA Tour(s), please see the PBA Official Rulebook located on PBA.com.

1.2 Membership
Membership in the PBA League Bowler Certification program is on an annual basis and open to all league bowlers participating in organized bowling leagues at PBA Certified Centers.

1.3 Benefits

  • Official PBA Certified Average
  • Real-time league and individual bowler statistics 
  • Export and share league and individual bowler statistics
  • Unique digital awards program 
  • National tournament featuring unprecedented prize money with national TV and digital coverage
  • Exclusive virtual tournaments
  • Transparent and easy to follow Rules and Certifications
  • League prize fund bonding
  • Cloud based scoring software accessible anywhere at anytime
  • Customizable center and league communications
  • League Secretary portal to manage leagues and bowlers
  • League Lobby where bowlers can view and join leagues easily
  • Manage all your leagues on the go on mobile

1.4 Equipment.
All PBA LBC leagues, tournaments and centers approved by PBA shall be conducted with equipment and products, which have been certified by the PBA, to comply with all PBA specifications. Such approval is subject to and contingent upon laboratory examination, field testing, testing procedures and fees established by PBA.

1.5 Contact information.
A list of contact information for PBA League Bowler Certification leagues and tournaments as well as PBA Tour competition can be found online at PBALBC.com. Suggested updates to these rules can be submitted to the corresponding contact at PBALBC.com as well.


2. Universal Playing Rules

NOTE: This is a fluid document that may be amended or adjusted at any time as needed. Please check back often to verify you are using the latest version.

2.1 Game Definitions
2.1.1 A game of tenpins consists of ten frames. A player delivers two balls in each of the first nine frames unless a strike is scored. In the tenth frame, a player delivers three balls if a strike or spare is scored. Every frame must be completed by each player bowling in regular order.

2.1.2 Except when a strike is scored, the number of pins knocked down by the player’s first delivery is to be marked in the small square in the upper left-hand corner of that frame, and the number of pins knocked down by the player’s second delivery is to be marked in the upper right-hand corner. If none of the standing pins are knocked down by the second delivery in the frame, the score sheet shall be marked with a (-). The count for the two deliveries in the frame shall be recorded immediately.

Bowling Scores Demonstrating Rules

2.1.3 A strike is made when a full setup of pins is knocked down with the first delivery in a frame. It is marked by an (X) in the frame where it was made. The count for one strike is 10 plus the number of pins knocked down on the player’s next two deliveries.

2.1.4 Two consecutive strikes is a double. The count for the first strike is now 20 plus the number of pins knocked down with the first delivery following the second strike.

2.1.5 Three successive strikes is a triple, also called a turkey. The count for the first strike is now 30. Four consecutive strikes is called a four-bagger or a hambone. To bowl the maximum score of 300, also known as a perfect game, the player must bowl 12 strikes in succession in one game.

2.1.6 A spare is scored when pins left standing after the first delivery are knocked down with the second delivery in that frame. It is marked by a (/) in the small square in the upper right-hand corner of the frame. The count for a spare is 10 plus the number of pins knocked down by the player’s next delivery.

2.1.7 When a player fails to bowl down all ten pins after two deliveries in a frame, unless the pins left standing after the first delivery constitute a split, it is called an open frame.

2.1.8 A split (normally marked with an O around the number of pins) is a setup of pins left standing after the first delivery, provided the head pin is down and:

a) At least one pin is down between two or more standing pins; i.e. 7-9 or 3-10.

b) At least one pin is down immediately ahead of two or more standing pins; i.e. 5-6.

2.2 Style of Play
2.2.1 Dual lane style
a) A game shall be played on two lanes (a pair) immediately adjoining each other.
b) Members of competing teams, trios, doubles and individual entrants shall successively and in regular order bowl one frame on one lane, and for the next frame alternate and use the other lane until five frames are bowled on each lane of the pair.

2.2.2 Single lane style
a) A game shall be played on one lane.
b) Members of competing teams, trios, doubles and individual entrants shall successively and in regular order bowl one frame on one lane until 10 frames are bowled on the lane.

2.2.3 The rules for each specific league or tournament shall specify which style of play that applies.

2.3.2 Every delivery counts unless a dead ball is declared (See 2.6).

2.3.3 A delivery must be made entirely by manual means.

2.3.4 No device may be incorporated in or affixed to the ball that detaches on delivery or is a moving part during delivery.

2.3.5 A player may use special equipment to aid in gripping/grasping and delivering the ball if it is in place of a hand or major portion thereof lost by amputation or otherwise. If there is any question, this equipment shall be approved by a league or tournament official or by the PBA. 

2.3.6 Pins following a legal delivery - to be credited to a player, to be termed dead wood and to be removed before the next delivery - shall include
a) Pins knocked down or off the pin deck by the ball or another pin
b) Pins knocked down or off the pin deck by a pin rebounding from a side partition or rear cushion
c) Pins knocked down or off the pin deck by a pin rebounding from the sweep bar when it is at rest on the pin deck before sweeping dead wood from the pin deck
d) Pins that lean and touch the kickback or side partition.

2.4 Illegal Pinfall
2.4.1 When any of the following occur the delivery counts but the resulting pin fall does not;
a) A ball leaves the lane before reaching the pins
b) A ball rebounds from the rear cushion
c) A pin rebounds after coming in contact with the body, arms or legs of a human pinsetter
d) A pin is touched by mechanical pin setting equipment
e) Any pin knocked down when dead wood is being removed
f) Any pin knocked down by a human pinsetter
g) The player commits a foul
h) A delivery is made with dead wood on the lane or in the gutter and the ball contacts such dead wood before leaving the lane surface.

2.4.2 If illegal pin fall occurs and the player is entitled to additional deliveries in the frame, the pin or pins illegally knocked down must be re-spotted where they originally stood.

2.5 Other Pin Actions
2.5.1 When bowling at a full setup or to make a spare, if it is discovered immediately after the delivery that one or more pins are set improperly, but not missing, the delivery and resulting pin fall counts. It is each player’s responsibility to determine if a setup is correct. The player shall insist that any pin or pins incorrectly set be re-spotted before delivering the ball, otherwise the setup is deemed to be acceptable.

2.5.2 No change can be made in the position of any pins left standing after a delivery. That is, pins that are moved or misplaced by a mechanical pinsetter shall remain in the moved or misplaced position and shall not be corrected manually.

2.5.3 Pins that rebound and stand on the lane must be counted as standing pins.

2.5.4 No pins may be conceded and only those actually knocked down or moved entirely off the playing surface of the lane as a result of a legal delivery may be counted.

2.5.5 Should a pin be broken or otherwise badly damaged during the game, it shall be replaced at once by another as nearly uniform in weight and condition with the set in use. Center management or tournament officials shall determine whether pins shall be replaced.

2.6 Dead Ball
2.6.1 A ball shall be declared dead if any of the following occur
a) After a delivery (and before the next delivery on the same lane), attention is immediately called to the fact that one or more pins were missing from the setup.
b) A human pinsetter interferes with any standing pin before the ball reaches the pins
c) A human pinsetter removes or interferes with any downed pin before it stops rolling
d) A player bowls on the wrong lane or out of turn. Or one player from each team on the pair of lanes bowls on the wrong lane
e) A player is physically interfered with by another player, spectator or moving object or by the pinsetter as the ball is being delivered and before delivery is completed. In such case, the player has the option to accept the resulting pin fall or have a dead ball declared
f) Any pin is moved or knocked down as a player delivers the ball but before the ball reaches the pins
g) A delivered ball comes in contact with a foreign object/obstacle out of the players control.

2.6.2 When a dead ball is called, the delivery does not count. The pins standing when the dead ball occurred must be re-spotted and the player allowed to re-bowl the delivery.

2.7 Bowling on Wrong Lane
2.7.1 A ball shall be declared dead and the player or players required re-bowling on the correct lane if no more than a total of 4 individual frames have been bowled on a pair of lanes by the players.

2.7.2 If more than four individual frames have been bowled on the wrong lane, that game will be completed without adjustment. Any succeeding game must be started on the correctly scheduled lane.

2.8 Foul Definitions
2.8.1 A foul occurs when a part of the player’s person encroaches on or goes beyond the foul line and touches any part of the lane, equipment or building during or after a delivery.

2.8.2 A ball is in play after a delivery until the same or another player is on the approach in position to make a succeeding delivery.

2.8.3 When a player deliberately fouls to benefit by the calling of a foul, the player shall be credited with zero pin fall for that frame.

2.8.4 When a foul is recorded (as an ‘F’), the delivery counts but the player is not credited with any pins knocked down by that delivery. Pins knocked down by the ball when the foul occurred must be respotted if the player who fouled is entitled to additional deliveries in the frame.

2.8.5 A foul shall still be declared and recorded if the automatic foul detecting device or foul judge fails to call a foul that is apparent to;
a) Both team captains or a player from each team
b) An official score keeper
c) A tournament official.

2.8.6 No appeal shall be allowed when a foul is called unless
a) It is proved that the automatic device is not operating properly
b) There is preponderance of evidence the player did not foul.

2.9 Provisional Ball
2.9.1 A provisional ball or frame shall be bowled by a player when a protest involving a foul, legal pin fall or a dead ball is made and cannot be immediately resolved by league or tournament officials.

2.9.2 When a dispute occurs on a player’s first delivery in any frame, or on the second delivery in the tenth frame after a strike on the first delivery
a) If the dispute is over whether the player fouled, the player shall complete the frame and then bowl one provisional ball at a full setup of pins
b) If the dispute involves alleged illegal pin fall, the player shall complete the frame and then bowl one provisional ball at the setup that would have remained standing had the disputed pin(s) not fallen
c) If the dispute is over whether a dead ball should have been declared, the player shall complete the frame and then bowl a complete provisional frame.

2.9.3 When a dispute occurs on a spare attempt, or on the third delivery in the tenth frame, no provisional ball is necessary unless the dispute is over whether a dead ball should have been declared. In that case a provisional ball shall be bowled at the same setup, which was standing when the disputed ball was bowled.

2.10 Bowling Ball, Altering Surface
2.10.1 Any use of chemicals must be on the ‘Acceptable list” as listed on the PBA approved website. It is not allowed to use anything not listed on this list. The ball must be wiped clean after any cleaning.

2.11 Approaches Must Not Be Defaced
2.11.1 The application of any foreign substance on any part of the approach that detracts from the possibility of other players having normal conditions is prohibited.

2.11.2 This includes, but is not limited to, such substances as talcum powder, pumice and resin on shoes; also soft rubber soles or heels that rub off on the approach are prohibited.

2.12 Errors In Scoring
2.12.1 The league secretary or responsible tournament official immediately upon the discovery of such error must correct errors in scoring or errors in calculation. The league official or Tournament Director shall decide upon any questionable errors.

2.12.2 Protests on scoring errors shall follow the protest requirements of 2.13.

2.12.3 Each protest under this rule must be specific in itself and this rule shall not be construed to cover a previous or similar violation.

2.13 Protests
2.13.1 All league protests shall be filed in writing with a league officer within a 72-hour period. Certain protests must be timely - A tournament or league shall require a protest be filed one hour from the end of the event or block of games for each day of tournament/event, but must be before the prize presentation or the commencement of the next round (in an elimination event), whichever is sooner.

2.14 Additional Tournament and League Information
2.14.1 A tournament or league may have a special rule limiting the number of re-racks a player may have in a game and/or block or series.

2.14.2 A tournament or league may have specific rule(s) as approved by league members, center management or tournament officials. These rule(s) should be published/posted as approved.

2.14.3 A tournament or league may have a specific rule to cover tardy players, addressing unfair tactics by a player, bowling ball restrictions (number, type, etc.), lane patterns or similar special situations.

2.14.4 The tournament or league management should make provision(s) for enforcement and penalty, if any, for special rule violations.

2.15 Requests for Rule Changes
2.15.1 PBA League Bowler Certification members may submit a formal request for rule changes to the Rules Committee. Requests must be made in writing and submitted to the Committee on PBALBC.com. All requests will be reviewed at the next committee meeting.


Appendix A – Equipment Specifications

A.1 – Bowling Balls
A.1.1 – Specifications. Ball manufacturers are required to meet the following specifications at the time of manufacture for any ball model of 13.0 pounds or greater (excluding house balls). The PBA will conduct laboratory tests at room temperature (70-77 DegF) on new in box (NIB) samples to verify compliance. See “PBA Testing Procedures” for additional information regarding PBA testing methodologies and requirements.

Manufacturer Specifications Minimum Maximum






+/- 0.010”

Hardness (HD)(average)



Radius of gyration (RG)



Differential radius of gyration (RG Diff)



Surface Roughness – Ra


65 μin

Top Weight (10.00 pounds and greater) 


5 oz.

(Note: For all PBA Tour level events, Urethane and Urethane-like bowling balls (balls above 60-minute Oil Absorption time) must be manufactured at an average minimum Hardness of 78.0HD. This is not required for PBA LBC League play.) 

A.1.2 – Material. At time of manufacture:

  1. The ball shall be constructed of solid material, i.e., no liquids and without voids in its interior.
  2. There shall be no pure metals or high-density materials. The density of any piece/component in a ball (e.g. core, coverstock, weight block, etc.) shall not exceed 3.80 g/mL.

Following the approval of a ball, the introduction of substances that are not comparable to the original material used in manufacturing of a bowling ball is prohibited. Likewise, introducing liquids or voids is prohibited.

A.1.3 – Balance for a Ball Weighing More than 10 Pounds: Manufactured balls may not have more than 5 ounces of difference between any two halves of the ball.

A.1.4 – Markings. Each ball must be marked with:

  1. Center of Gravity (CG) Marking Location. The center of gravity of an undrilled ball must be clearly identifiable by a unique mark or indicator.
  2. Pin and Low RG Axis. The pin of a bowling ball indicates where the top of the weight block is within the ball. One end of the low RG axis of the ball must be located within a 1” radius of the center of the pin. Exceptions to this would include certain “pancake” type core designs.
  3. Preferred Spin Axis (PSA), High RG Axis. The PSA is the axis that a ball will migrate to and spin around when rotational energy is continually applied to the bowling ball; this will always be the high RG axis of the ball. For ball manufacturing specifications, this term applies to only undrilled balls with asymmetrical core designs. The PSA of a bowling ball should be clearly identifiable (if applicable) by a unique mark or indicator. The PSA should be within a 1.5” radius of the center of the marking or indicator on the ball. Balls with a measured intermediate differential of 0.010” or greater must have a PSA marking or indicator.

A.1.5 - Identification. Each ball must be uniquely identifiable with a brand name and/or logo along with an individual, distinct serial number. 

A.1.6 - Testing. Each ball model that a manufacturer wishes to be used in any PBA type competition (including PBA LBC) must present the ball for testing and/or verification. Verification of conformance will be done in a variety of ways including Lab Testing as well as Real-World or Field Testing. All testing will be conducted in accordance with Lab and Field Test Procedures as published in the Rules section of PBA.com.

Some releases may be verified upon submission of proof that said releases are considered non-high performance or previously verified cover and core samples. Non-high performance bowling balls includes equipment that are made of polyester or simple urethane coverstock with a hardness greater than 78D and an RG Diff of less than 0.025”.

A.1.7 – Testing and Listing Fees. All previously approved equipment shall remain allowed in PBA LBC competition. In the future, unless a manufacturer is product registered with the PBA, the PBA may implement testing and listing fees to offset costs in doing so.

A.2 – Drilled Bowling Balls
A.2.1 – Specifications. Balls to be used in any PBA type competition (including PBA LBC) must meet the following conditions. It is the player's responsibility to make sure all bowling balls used in PBA League competition are cleared for use and meet all weight and drilling specifications. See “PBA Testing Procedures” for additional information regarding PBA testing methodologies and requirements. 

Field Specifications



Total Weight


16.00 lbs.

Hardness (HD) (average, +/-2.0HD)





A.2.2 – Bowling Ball Size and Weight. The total weight of a bowling ball may not exceed sixteen (16.00) lbs. The circumference of a ball is 27 inches and the diameter must be between 8.500 and 8.595 inches at the time of manufacture.

A.2.3 – Bowling Ball Holes. The following limitations shall govern the drilling of holes in the ball:

A.2.3.1 – Holes or Indentations for Gripping Purposes. Holes or indentations for gripping purposes shall not exceed five and shall be limited to one for each finger and one for the thumb, all for the same hand, with no drilled holes exceeding 1-9/16” diameter and 4-1/2” deep. (Note: This includes holes required to install removable devices). The player is required to use all the gripping holes on every delivery with the same hand.

Note. Any gripping hole that does not have the thumb or fingers inserted into it throughout the approach would be classified as a balance hole, which is not allowed. Any secondary hole drilled inside of a gripping hole that is not intended for gripping purpose is considered a void and not allowed except for vent holes.

A.2.3.2 – No Thumb Hole. If a bowler does not have a thumb hole, there must be a scribed or engraved “+” near the center of the palm to indicate the grip orientation. The ball must be delivered in the marked orientation (i.e. palm must cover the “+”).

A.2.3.3 – Balance Hole. Balance holes are not allowed.

A.2.3.4 – Mill Hole. One mill hole may appear periodically in older bowling balls. Mill holes are no longer used for inspection purposes. They are not to exceed 5/8” in diameter and 1/8” in depth. The location of a mill hole shall be just above the center of the finger holes.

A.2.3.5 – Vent Hole. No more than one vent hole for each finger and/or thumb hole not to exceed ¼” in diameter at any point throughout the depth of the hole. PBA considers a vent hole to be any non-gripping hole that intersects with a gripping hole at any depth.

A.2.3.6 – House Balls. House balls are not required to meet the drilling specifications if they meet the following:

  1. They/it is supplied by the center in which the competition is being held.
  2. Having a polyester or basic urethane coverstock with a hardness of at least 78D.
  3. Having a differential RG less than 0.025 inches.
  4. The ball is not specifically drilled to fit the bowler.

Note: A ball left in a bowling center by a bowler for public use is not considered a house ball.

A.2.4 – Ball Plug and Designs.

A.2.4.1 – Ball Plug and/or Slugs may be used for re-drilling a ball. When a slug is used, there must be a hole drilled completely through the slug leaving no void at the base.

A.2.4.2 – Interior Voids. In all cases, there shall be no interior voids.

A.2.4.3 – Plugs and Designs Material must be made of material like, although not the same as, the original material out of which the ball was made. Plugs and designs must comply with other specifications of a bowling ball.

A.2.4.4 – Plugged Equipment. Plugging material may be used in accordance with current PBA specifications. No foreign matter may be placed within the plug area and all equipment shall otherwise comply with PBA regulations.

A.2.4.5 – Density must be within a range of 0.9 g/ml and 1.5 g/ml.

A.2.4.6 – Foreign Material may not be placed on the outer surface of the ball, including but not limited to paint, marker or whiteout.

A.2.5 – Altering the Surface of the Bowling Ball. The use of chemicals, or other methods, to change the hardness of the surface of the ball after it is manufactured is prohibited.

  1. If the surface friction of the ball is altered by sanding or polishing, the entire surface of the ball must be sanded or polished in a uniform manner.
  2. Bowling balls coated with anything other than approved polishes may not be used.
  3. A player may not alter the surface of a ball during a league or tournament in which s/he is competing.
  4. Acetone and acetone-based products may be used only for the removal of excess glue around the gripping area by a pro-shop professional.
  5. No foreign objects may protrude from or beyond the surface of a ball (including grip and slugs).
  6. Foreign material (such as rosin, powder or lane conditioner) may not be applied directly to the surface of the ball.


A.2.6 – Gripping Devices.

A.2.6.1 Gripping Material. Material used solely for gripping purposes may be used provided it may readily be removed for spot checks and complies with current Product Registration guidelines.

A.2.6.2 Removable Devices. Removable devices may be used provided such devices are:

  1. Approved for use by the PBA.
  2. Only used for changing the span, pitch or size of the gripping holes.
  3. Constructed of a non-metallic material.
  4. Locked in position during delivery
  5. Not used to alter the static balance of the ball.

A.3 – Two-Handed Techniques
A.3.1 – Two-Handed Approach. Not to be confused with the two-handed delivery, this style places both hands on the ball and are left on the ball throughout the swing until the release. An evolution of the thumbless technique, this can be done with or without the thumb on the dominant hand in the ball.

A.3.2 – Two-Handed Delivery. Both hands impart force on the ball to get it down the lane; historically done by swinging the ball between one’s legs. Differing greatly from the two-handed approach. Individuals who deliver the ball from the chest using both hands are typically using a two-handed delivery.

A.3.3 – Holes. The limitations governing the drilling of holes in the ball can be found in Drilling Specifications. Note that for two-handed techniques, all holes or indentations for gripping purposes must be used by the same hand.

A.4 – Testing/Approval Disclaimer
PBA has the inherent right to refuse for testing and/or approval anything that PBA believes to be offensive to a portion of our membership or which could involve the PBA implicitly condoning a violation of local laws.