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The Unwritten Rules Of Bowling - Bowling Ettiquette
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When you sit down at a fancy restaurant you are not given a manual that says, do not eat with your fingers, do not slurp your soup. You know you are suppose to put your napkin in your lap. These are some of the unwritten rules you hopefully grow up knowing.

Bowling also has it's own unwritten rules. Some may seem quite obvious, some maybe not so much. The sport of bowling has no shortage of written rules that you can find in any USBC rule book. The unwritten rules that get broken so often and raise blood pressure is a whole different story.

Several basic etiquette guidelines are: 1) Don't get on the approach and bowl until the bowlers to the right and to the left of you have finished their turns. 2) Be ready to bowl when it is your turn. 3) Don't bring food and drink in to the bowler's area and 4) Don't use other people's equipment with out their permission.

The governing body of bowling which is the United States Bowing Congress does not specifically state any of these bowling tips in their rule book, but most sanctioned bowlers come to know and practice these unwritten rules. They are pretty standard in league play, much like my example above in a fancy restaurant. There is always exceptions, but generally speaking these rules do not need to be written.

Bowling etiquette gets a little tricky when different personalities meet. Much like the restaurant example, there are some obvious and some that depending on your lifestyle and views, not so obvious. For example, when you go to a fancy restaurant, should you bring a young child and if you do, what happens when that child gets fussy. That is an example of the gray area of etiquette, and bowling is no different.

How loud should you cheer in bowling? Should you take flash photography during competitive bowling such as league or tournament play? When and who should give bowling tips during competition, whether it is asked for or not? When and where should you use resin powder for your shoes or thumb? Where should you leave your bowling bag during league or tournament play?

Some suggestions to the above etiquette questions are: 1) Bowling should always be fun (frustrating at times, I concur, but always fun). When it stops being fun, that is the time to take up a new sport. So don't be afraid to cheer. You probably want to leave out the catcall whistle, but high fives and genuine claps are encouraged. 2) Once upon a time the ban of flash photography was actually a sanctioned rule. This is no longer the case. If you want to take pictures, be courteous of people bowling and point the flash away from the lanes or use a camera that does not require flash. If you are bowling and someone is using a flash camera, focus on your mark on the lane and chances are you will not see the flash. 3) Most bowling tips offered to beginner or lower average bowlers are usually well intentioned. When offering tips be careful that they are wanted. Also keep in mind any physical limitations they may have. They may even have someone that is already coaching them. Even if that coach is teaching them wrong, it gets confusing to hear conflicting advice. Sometimes, little corrective advice is very helpful during competitive play, such as "you are turning your shoulder during your back swing." The bowler may not be aware of this and it can be very helpful, but never try to change someone's game during league or tournament play. 4) Resin powder is helpful to a bowler but can also be a safety issue for other bowlers. Never leave powder on the floor where people might walk. It is safest to put some on a bowling towel and then put it on your shoe or thumb. 5) Bowlers are bringing more and more bowling balls to league and tournaments, which means the bowling bags are bigger and plentiful. This can also create a safety issue. Leave bowling equipment and bags not being used under tables and chairs. Do not put them in the bowlers area where people sit.

The big question is do these things really matter, or are they just little pet peeves of some people that are over sensitive or take the game too seriously. The bottom line, in bowling just as in life, use courtesy to your fellow neighbor whenever possible. Don't wait to see if you are irritating your fellow team mates or competitors. If your opponent is not offering you these same courtesies, don't let it affect your game. Calmly explain the unwritten rule. Chances are they didn't get the "manual!"


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