5 things you need to know about joining a bowling league

5 Things You Need to Know About Joining a Bowling League


Late last summer, when a guy I work with asked if I wanted to be on his bowling league team, I just laughed because I assumed he was kidding.  “Seriously, Kat.  We need a girl on our team.”  Me?  On a bowling league?  I hadn’t been inside a bowling alley since my son was 8 (about 12 year ago) and I used bumpers.  When I told Noah that, he didn’t seem to care.  So, as I usually do when I’m not sure about something, I said, “What the hell.” (It’s not like I was super busy with other commitments at 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday night.)  Here is what you need to know about a bowling league, as told by a complete beginner:

It doesn’t matter if you suck

Thank heavens.  Because (especially in the beginning) my performance was dismal.  At first, I threw a very impressive series of gutter balls.  In fact, if bowling alleys had plaques on the wall for that, I’d be the proud owner of one.  I’ll just come right out and publicly admit right here that I threw a 33 one night.  (If you don’t know about how bowling is scored, suffice it to say that someone with severely impaired vision and two broken arms could roll a better score.)  I have also dropped the ball in my back-swing.  Yup.  I was that girl.  And the boys on my team were SO nice about it.  They kept encouraging me and the night I dropped the ball BEHIND me, all of their jaws dropped in unison, but they quickly recovered and assured me that everyone does that.  After 27 weeks of bowling I haven’t actually witnessed anyone else doing that, but I’m choosing to take their word for it.  Getting back to why it doesn’t matter if you suck at bowling- my contribution to my team is my GI-normous handicap.  My score always LOOKS good, even if it isn’t because I have a large handicap.


One of the cool things about bowling is you don’t have to have the equipment to play.  Those ultra sexy shoes are already there, as are “house balls” for your throwing pleasure.  After I had played a few weeks, Bryant (another guy on my team) GAVE me a bowling ball!  How nice is that? It was actually kind of hard to get used to, but I had it fitted for me and pretty soon my new ball and I were getting along quite nicely.  A few weeks later, Bryant said, “Kat, if I tell you something, do you promise not to get mad at me?”  I assured him I would not, and he confessed that my bowling ball used to be a dead lady’s.  Yeah, that seemed about right.  Of course I wasn’t mad- in fact in just made me laugh hysterically.  Bryant assured me that she was a very nice lady, and that she bowled well, so that was good enough for me.  So if you’re ever in the bowling alley at 8:00 on a Thursday night, I’m the gal throwing the dead lady’s bowling ball.


Noah swears he told me that being in a bowling league was a 33 week commitment.  I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that.  I’ve had to ditch a few times due to other obligations, but because this league has been running in the dead of winter, what else am I doing?  Exactly.  Since it’s at 8:00 p.m., that gives me time to come home from work, eat, nap, shower and show up.  It also gives me a chance to get to know and hang out with co-workers and friends that I ordinarily wouldn’t have a chance to get to know, so that’s cool too.



Ew-wee, some people take this game seriously.  I’m not one of them.  And neither are any of my teammates, even though they are really good bowlers.  We have captain meetings sometimes, I guess there’s a whole governing body associated with bowling and I think I even heard someone mention a bowling congress.  I don’t pay a lot of attention to those things.  I’m there to have a couple beers with my friends, and try to throw a score better than 33.  Those are my lofty bowling goals.  I don’t really understand the psychology of a serious bowler.  There is SOME money attached to finishing the league well, but not much.  Bowling is a game of basic physics.  You chuck a really heavy ball at tall, light objects that fall over.  We’re not solving world hunger or designing water filtration systems for third world countries, so sometimes I just don’t get what the fuss is about.  But hey, if someone is really competitive and wants the prestige of winning that $200 purse (or whatever it is) at the end of league, more power to them.  In case you haven’t gathered by reading this, I’m not terribly competitive, so I just don’t get too caught up in bowling drama.  It does give the guys and I something to make jokes about, so I appreciate it for that reason.

You’ll get better and you’ll have fun

Even when you don’t play that great, bowling is still a lot of fun.  Each roll down the lane is an opportunity for redemption.  The good news is your score WILL get better.  I’ve even broke 100 a few times (still nothing to brag about- all I’m saying is my numbers are moving in the right direction).

If you ever get invited to play on a bowling league, especially in the middle of a long Billings winter, do it.  Don’t beat yourself up if you stink at first.  If you look at it as an excuse to get out of the house and chat it up with friends for a few hours, you’ll have a great time and you’ll get better each time you play.

by Kat Hobza