Although most bowling alleys have automatic scorekeeping computers set up to track players' scores, it can be helpful to know how to keep score yourself if needed. Plus, understanding how scores are calculated helps you develop a strategy for getting the best bowling score possible. A perfect score of 300 is when you roll 12 strikes in a row.
Keep track of your bowling score on a simple score card. The card has a row of 10 large boxes, called frames, each of which has two small boxes side by side in the top right corner. The exception is the last frame, which has three small boxes in the upper right corner. Most score cards also have space on the left to write the player's name and space on the right to write the final score. Each frame on the score sheet represents one turn for the player. The player gets a maximum of two balls in each turn, and if a player knocks over all of the pins with his first ball, he doesn't use the second ball that turn. The exception is in the last frame, when a player uses up to three balls, depending on how well he is doing.
Each time a player rolls a bowling ball down the lane, count how many pins the ball knocked over and write that number in the small box at the top of the frame. When no pins are standing after a player rolls his first ball of the turn, this is called a "strike", and is marked with an "X" in the first small box and nothing in the second small box. If no pins are standing after the second ball, this is called a "spare," and is marked with a slash in the second box
Add up the player's total running score after each frame, and write it in the box for the frame. For example, if a player had 23 points before the frame, knocked down five pins on the first roll and three pins on the second roll, add 23 plus five plus three to get a new total of 31, and write it in the box for that frame.
If a player gets a strike or spare, wait until after the player completes his next roll or two to calculate the score. This is because the number of pins you count for a spare is 10 plus the number of pins knocked down with the next ball. For a strike, count 10 plus the number of pins knocked over with the next two balls. For example, say a player had 23 points after frame 3 and then got a strike in frame 4. In frame 5, say the player knocks over eight pins with the first ball and knocks over the last two for a spare with the second ball. To score frame 4, add 10 for the strike plus eight plus two to get 20 points for the turn, plus the 23 points from before the turn for a running total of 43. You cannot score frame 5 yet because you need to add the number of pins knocked down with the first ball in frame 6.