May 6, 2020

CONTACT: Terry Bigham
USBC Communications
On the Web:

FAQ: Reopening of leagues and tournaments


Changes include waiving alternating lane requirement and
approving use of isopropyl alcohol to clean bowling balls

ARLINGTON, Texas – The United States Bowling Congress Board of Directors approved waivers and modifications to USBC Playing Rules to allow certified leagues and tournaments more flexibility to return to bowling while adhering to local health guidelines related to COVID-19.  

The modifications allow certified competition to take place on one lane for the entirety of a game. Additionally, bowlers will be allowed to use isopropyl alcohol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol, to clean their bowling ball during competition. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists isopropyl alcohol as an approved disinfectant for use against COVID-19.

“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.”

The USBC Board has the authority to temporarily amend or suspend league and tournament rules in emergency cases. With the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, USBC reviewed its rules and policies to identify areas of concern relating to player safety and to determine how it could promote efforts while centers adjust operations to meet local guidelines.

Effective immediately, USBC has temporarily waived USBC Playing Rules 106a, 106b, 320a and 320b, which state two lanes must be used for competition and bowlers must alternate lanes – bowling five frames on each lane of the pair. It also waived the requirement that both lanes must be used for a bowler to be eligible for awards and average recognition.

The temporary waiver allows competitions to use one lane for the entirety of a game and allows recognition of scores bowled on a single lane for USBC High Score Awards and for a bowler’s official average.

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

USBC also created an exception for Rule 18, which restricts the use of liquid cleaners to clean the outer surface of the bowling ball during USBC certified competition. The exception for Rule 18 applies only to isopropyl alcohol – no other USBC-approved cleaners will be allowed during competition.

The USBC Board, which has the authority over General Playing Rules, was able to make the rules waivers following the adoption of General Playing Rule 14 – Emergency Authorizations. Rule 14 states USBC may authorize temporary modifications to the General Playing Rules, Award, League and Tournament Rules in cases of emergency and that such authorizations will be for a specified period.

Visit for more information on USBC Rules.

United States Bowling Congress
The United States Bowling Congress serves as the national governing body of bowling as recognized by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC). USBC conducts championship events nationwide including the largest participation sporting events in the world – the USBC Open and Women’s Championships – and professional events such as the USBC Masters and USBC Queens.

Founded in 1895, today USBC and its 1,638 state and local associations proudly serve more than a million members. USBC is headquartered in Arlington, Texas, working toward a future for the sport. The online home for USBC is

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  1. Terry Hoots.. Here’s one for you, how we gonna deal with/handle folks that smoke, and or Vape…you know your skin is the largest organ of the human body, and second hand smoke and vapors from vaping come directly from the lungs…anybody want to touch on this….to me its gonna be a “BIG” deal…SHALOM…/”\


    1. For one. Where are you coming into contact with vape or smoke in a bowling center? Every center here requires go out side or stand in a closet. Secondly, other people’s breath is there all around you, all the time. Vape and smoke doesn’t change that.


      1. The two bowling centers where I like to bowl nearest to my home is run by one person, but managed separate, and the management of one of them vapes and allows their employees to vape, they both allow vaping during league play, or whenever…I have made requests to both managers and owners to not allow vaping or smoking inside the building. I have asked for help everywhere I can think of and apparently it is of no concern to anyone except me….even have asked about Americans with disabilities with no help…I have drawn up a petition in one or two leagues asking bowlers not to vape unless outside, received many signatures, but all in vain. So I do not bowl on as many leagues as I would like because it really affects my nervous system and I lose my coordination, concentration like 100 pins less than normal…so bad I have had to leave the center. I do not know where to turn…funny thing is all the other centers in the area counties do not allow vaping inside their center.. If you know of any help please advise.


  2. Kevin Russell Avatar
    Kevin Russell

    This proposal is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! So you’re using only one lane, both teams balls still come back on the same return and end up on the same rack! Ridiculous! Let’s just bowl with common sense.


    1. onefrombills Avatar

      The bowling on one lane is an option, not a requirement. This provides an option for bowling centers/competitions that may be required to or choose to only operate with every other lane in operation while social distancing is needed.


  3. Kevin Russell Avatar
    Kevin Russell

    Every other lane? How can that possibly work? Suddenly your 16 team league needs 32 lanes? How many centers could accommodate that? None!


  4. That’s why it’s an option. Your preaching to the choir. What about a small 16 Lane center that has eight teams, it would work then, just not for all.


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About Me

Brian grew up in New York before moving to Phoenix, AZ in 1991. He has been involved in writing for his own bowling publication called “Striking Spotlight.” He has been published in the Desert Bowler Newspaper, Windy City News Newspaper and the Bowlers Journal. Hirsch is a Youth Director in the Kenosha USBC and a former Director for the Metro Phoenix USBC. As a Level 1 and RVP USBC coach, he can be found coaching his wife Amber and their son Masen each Saturday morning. Hirsch currently has (6) 300’s and (4) 800’s and is a member of the International Gay Bowling Organization where he is a five-time IGBO Champion and a six-time Arizona State Grand Canyon State Games Medalist. The Hirsch’s moved to Wisconsin to be closer to family and assist the Freedom Farm for Vets. Hirsch’s home bowling center is Sheridan Lanes, located in Kenosha, WI.


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