New USBC Bowling Rules For 2020 – How they Affect You!

The new USBC bowling rules for 2020 have been changed to allow bowling centers to open safely and help reduce the spread the Covid 19 Pandemic. Many centers are dealing with the problems created by the highly infectious virus in different ways. Some Centers are placing a vacant lane between teams, while others are placing barriers between each lane. There is also a concern of handling bowling balls and allowing Isopropyl alcohol to be used during play to disinfect the balls. Here is the rundown on the new USBC bowling rules for 2020.

Changes To The New Bowling Rules For 2020

The United States Bowling Congress Board of Directors has approved rule changes for certified bowling leagues and tournaments some flexibility in dealing with local health guidelines and reopening bowling centers that were forced to close due to Covid 19.

League Bowling on One Lane Only Will Be Permitted

Because of social distancing and some leagues putting a dead lane between bowling teams, the USBC will allow certified competition to bowl on one lane for the entire game. Normally, the league competition is played on 2 lanes by alternating lanes and 5 frames on each lane is required. This is covered in USBC Playing Rules 106a, 106b, 320a and 320b. The USBC has temporarily waived these rules, effective immediately. The two lane requirement has been waived for high score awards and bowlers official average. All awards will be recognized for certified bowling the entire game on one lane.

Ball Cleaning With Isopropyl Alcohol Only Will Be Permitted

Last season the USBC eliminated the use of any ball cleaners during competition. However, this year Isopropyl alcohol will be permitted for use as a method of sterilizing the ball during play. Isopropyl alcohol has been listed and approved as a disinfectant for Covid 19 by the Environmental Protection Agency[EPA].

Isopropyl alcohol is the only cleaner allowed, no other ball cleaners will be allowed. Last season only a dry towel was allowed to be used. The USBC has allowed an exception to rule 18 regarding the use of cleaners during play.The

In emergency cases, the USBC Board has the power to make temporary rule changes. The pandemic raised some concerns about player safety and social distancing. In response, the USBC decided to relax these rules to help centers trying to adapt to local health guidelines.

USBC Statement On New Bowling Rules For 2020

“As bowling centers around the country are reopening, USBC intends to give operators the most flexibility possible to resume bowling within their local guidelines,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “We have been listening to proprietors and members as they prepare to resume certified play and made these changes based on that input. Our goal is to facilitate bowling again in a way that meets the need locally and USBC is ready to quickly consider and activate additional changes based on feedback from centers and associations.”

USBC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Upon any changes can rescind the waiver of Rules 106a,106b, 320a and 320b at any time.

YearUse Of Ball Cleaner In CompetitionLanes Required In Competition
2020Can Use Isopropyl Alcohol OnlyCan Bowl Entire Game on One Lane
2019No Ball Cleaner- Dry Towel OnlyAlternately Bowl Entire Game on 2 Lanes

Bowling Centers & The New Bowling Rules For 2020

A lack of specific rules on how to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic is resulting in bowling centers dealing with the social distancing in different ways. Some centers are investing in plastic curtain barriers between lanes. While others are leaving a lane vacant between teams bowling to keep people safely distanced.

Personally, I would prefer the vacant lane separating the two bowling teams. Along with that a mandatory mask rule would be much safer. But, some centers are not enforcing any mask rules. That is quite foolish for everyone. The people not wearing masks are likely going to infect their own teammates, because they will be sitting in close proximity[within 3 feet of each other] for 2 to 3 hours at a time.

Using Isopropyl Alcohol For Sanitizing

The use of isopropyl alcohol during competition for sanitizing the bowling ball is most likely a pretty good idea. But, I wonder about the approaches to the lanes. Each bowler is standing in the same spot, walking over the same boards for each frame, and for a 3 game total. The droplets are going to fall to the floor, and at the end of the night each bowler is going to take his shoes off, and put them into his bowling bag.

All bowlers in league competition normally have their own shoes, so this is a fact. Now, they will have the droplets on their hands, on their shoes, and inside their bag. Unless every bowler takes the time to wipe his shoes, and his hands with alcohol. And it will only take one person to infect the whole team.

Tragically, I think this will cause a lot of problems among friends, especially if you are the one who infects a team, and someone dies. That is exactly why I have decided to sit this year out, and wait for a vaccine. I am unfortunately in the high risk [65 and older] group with a few medical issues as well.

Bowlers Stay Safe – Wear A Mask

In my home state of Pennsylvania here in the USA, masks are mandated for businesses to be worn indoors by employees and customers. But, only small gatherings of up to 25 people indoors are permitted. Some bowling leagues are much larger that 25 people. If you have ten 5 man teams, you have 50 people. And, people are telling me that locally, masks are optional inside the bowling alley. I don’t think that is such a great idea, and I don’t agree with it.

People love bowling, and I understand that. I like bowling too. But, I don’t want to risk my life over it. I must not have the perseverance that some others have. However, some people say that “anything can be accomplished with perseverance.”

What Perseverance Can Accomplish

Here is an example of perseverance. In a recent film competition, folks were issues a 72 hour Challenge that included the following rules:

  • 5 minutes long
  • About “going viral”
  • Had to have toilet paper within the video
  • Storyline made sense
  • Be completed within 72 hours

Quite a task in such a short time, but here is one of the competitor’s video’s who said “anything can be accomplished with perseverance”



They accomplished a feat that seemed impossible. I look at my country and I think it is sad that the USA has such a mask protest going on in our country. We are the only country protesting the use of life saving masks because of the covid 19 pandemic.

Only a few years ago, we were a country that people around the world admired for our leadership. Now, the world laughs at us. I wish we had the perseverance for everyone to just wear a mask.


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4 thoughts on “New USBC Bowling Rules For 2020 – How they Affect You!”

  1. Hello Chas, I have so many things I want to learn about bowling and the funny thing is my wife is really good at it and I feel really left out when we go out and she plays very well. I am beginning to grow likeness for it and that’s how I came across this article when making a search on it. I feels good seeing these added rules and I really like the safety aspect. 

    • Hi Justin,

      You should take up the sport again. It is something you can do together. Don’t take it to seriously though, I have seen quite a few very good women bowlers. They are much better than I could hope to be! 

      These new USBC bowling rules for 2020 are just temporary and subject to change at any time. But, with the state of this virus getting worse. I doubt that will be anytime soon.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, and please stop back soon.


  2. I like that these rules were chosen by the USBC board just so we all can be safe while also being able to enjoy the good sport as the same time. I feel like being away from the sports for a long time has made me forget a lot about the sport like I used to know before. But with these rules, I can revamp everything again and still stay safe too.

    • Hi Suz,

      Yes, These rules are actually temporary and can be changed at any time by the USBC Board. These are challenging times for all of us. And, it is encouraging to see such fast action of the new USBC rules for 2020 to help the bowling center owners.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, please stop back soon.



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