So that fun night out last year where you went bowling has started a hobby. You now own your own shoes and are playing more than once a month. But from time to time, you spot these people in matching shirts, having a good time who are all part of a bowling league. So how do you find a bowling league and join? Do you walk up and ask? What if you are new to town?
To join a bowling league, ask about what leagues are in your area to your nearest bowling alley or a pro shop. There are also many websites that can help you find and join bowling leagues such as leaguesecretary.com, bowlero.com, etc.
Before joining a league, think about what you hope to get from a bowling league and your comfort level. This is as important, if not more than your skill level. This will help you pinpoint which leagues will be a good fit for a person such as yourself. There is a league out there that is the perfect fit. And if there isn’t? Consider starting your own.
Types of Bowling Leagues
Bowling leagues come in about as many varieties as people who play the game. Everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or a beginner, advanced, or highly skilled bowler, has opportunities. Some leagues have a narrow scope, i.e., only women senior citizens. Others are pretty wide open, such as mixed leagues that welcome any adult.
Teams will be made up between 4-5 bowlers (adults) or between 3-4 bowlers (youth). Leagues usually play three games, which will generally work out to two and half hours of your time. Some leagues are geared to socializing with bowling. Others are focused on the game and are incredibly serious. You just need to find what suits your skill level and personality.
Here is a selection of types of leagues that are out there:
Mixed leagues included people of all genders. They are typically handicap leagues that, similar to golf, adjust the score by adding pins. This helps level the playing field, providing everyone a chance to win.
These leagues do not play with handicaps. Therefore, these are a good fit for experienced and highly competitive bowlers.
Youth leagues involve young people. Sometimes it is through their school, but sometimes it is through a church, after-school program, or run through the local bowling center.
Senior Citizen Leagues
By its name, these leagues have older players, generally retired. Some leagues are through VA centers, assisted living centers, and retirement centers. But some began with just a group of friends, church group, or club that wanted an active pastime.
How to Find a Bowling League
Lookup Your Nearby Alleys & Ask About Leagues
The most common and easiest way to locate a bowling league is to ask your local bowling center or pro shop and inquire what options are out there in your area. Some centers, such as Fox Bowl League and Zone Bowling, even have pages already set up to help on their websites.
Once you have the names, you contact them directly, or you can look them up at LeagueSecretary.com and decide if their stats fit your competition level.
However, there are plenty of other resources online that can also help guide you to finding leagues. Here are three examples.
Bowlero.com has a league finder for AMF, Bowlero, and BOWLMOR Lanes.
The site is incredibly user-friendly. So say you are using the AMF section of the website to help find a league near you. They split the searches into three broad categories: social clubs, leagues, and tournaments. You enter where you are and how far you are willing to travel and hit “search.” It is that simple and easy.
The National Bowling Association, Inc
The National Bowling Association is a non-profit that began in 1939 in Detroit with a mission to encourage Blacks to develop their skills. Back then, the main bowling leagues did not allow Blacks and other non-Caucasians to play. TNBA has no racial, religious, or gender restrictions to its membership, although 80% of its current membership is Black.
You can obtain membership and search for senates and affiliates in your area on the main website. For example, I went to their Senates and affiliates and clicked on the listings for the Western Region.
Then I clicked Phoenix and was taken to the TNBA Phoenix Senate. There I found the tab for their PBS Certified Leagues where they list all the TNBA leagues in their area, their contact details, and the contact details for the Phoenix TNBA secretary who can provide information and advice.
Leagsecretary.com also has its own search page for bowling leagues with their contact details. The page has all fifty states, Canadian provinces, and eleven other countries, including Mexico and the United Kingdom.
For example, I clicked on South Carolina. There was a list of bowling centers and the number of leagues registered. I clicked the first one, which listed two. Then I clicked on the first of the two and was taken to their league Dashboard.
Once there, I can do a number of things, including contacting their league admin, downloading their flyer, and viewing their tournaments.
How to Join a League
Once you’ve found a league that looks like a potential fit, you contact their league secretary to see if there are openings to join an existing team or form your own. The secretary can also provide further information about the league, such as their fees and schedules. The secretary should also be able to help you obtain membership to the United States Bowling Association.
How to Start Your Own Bowling League
Starting your own bowling league isn’t terribly difficult if you already have a group of people ready to bowl. There is, however, some admin and scheduling involved. How much depends on how much help and guidance your bowling center provides. For example, AMF has a dead easy website page to help get you and your mates started.
Generally speaking, starting a league requires:
- Contacting the bowling centers in your area and finding out if they have any specific requirements.
- Ensuring you have enough people, and if not, recruiting them. General guidelines are at least six teams made up of at least four players each.
- Creating dates and times for your season, which should be at least ten weeks.
- Make sure you have people in place to help with any admin, such as helping keep track of stats and fees.
- Be sure to have a league name (this is the fun part).
6 Things You Should Know About Bowling Leagues
If you will be joining a bowling league for the first time, here are some things that you must know.
You do not have to be any good
Really. If throwing a gutter ball is your signature move, that’s okay. Nobody is born playing a perfect game, and your fellow members will have their own gutter ball stories. Promise.
You will get better.
The more you bowl, the more you will improve. But the nice thing about being part of a league is fellow members will encourage you and give you tips. Soon you’ll discover yourself doing the same for some newbie who is right where you began, throwing gutter balls. Just wait. It will happen.
Not all leagues are weekly.
Yes, some leagues meet every week, but some only meet every two weeks. You can find one that will work for your life. Well, just so long as you are prepared to have fun. But who knows, there might be a “Grumpy Sods League” out there, and…they’re probably secretly having fun.
You don’t need to own all your own equipment.
Look, not going to lie; owning your own shoes is nice. Also, if you are joining a league, you’ll probably save money by not constantly renting a pair. But if you are intimidated by buying your own ball, wait. In all likelihood, you can borrow somebody’s old spare until you have the funds and a better idea of what you want to buy.
Be nice to the bartender.
Even if you are not a drinker, the bartender will be a familiar face. So make nice, tip, and who knows, you might even make a friend.
Be prepared to make new friends and have fun.
Bowling is a social sport. You are going to meet people, and a lot of these people like to socialize and cut loose. So we are really, really, sorry, but you are probably going to discover that your friend list has grown and fun is a more routine part of your life.