Is Bowling Considered A Sport?

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Is Bowling Really a Sport?

This question has been an ongoing debate for many years. On the one hand, some view bowling as a leisurely activity, while others indicate the game is an excellent example of mental focus and athleticism. In fact, you can make compelling arguments both ways.

For example, go to your local bowling alley on a weekend afternoon and observe. Some groups of people will show up, rent their shoes, take any house ball off the rack, and play without a care in the world. Their snacks and conversation with their friends are more important than their scores, which often leaves a lot to be desired. There is nothing wrong with this scenario. It’s a fun afternoon for people, but credence to the first argument.

Take a look a few lanes over, and you may see a league starting where serious players show up with their shoes and a bag of several balls. These players will try different balls during practice to see which best suits their shot to the house oil pattern for the day. These players will put many strikes on the board and routinely score well over 200 for a game.

Professional Bowling

The personalities seen on the PBA Tour range from funny to wacky and wild, making the sport all the more interesting to watch. But how much skill and physical stamina are required to bowl at the elite level? First of all, bowling balls aren’t easy to throw, particularly one that is 16 pounds. Try exerting the force needed to create enough spin to hook the ball into the pocket, causing massive pin action. 

Imagine competing in tournaments every week. Not only do you have to recover from the previous week’s matches physically, but you have to adjust mentally. The task is to decipher and conquer the tricky oil patterns, keeping close attention to the pin action.

Whether trying to be the king of your local league or succeed at the professional level, bowlers must eat well and participate in a strength training regimen to add extra power and endurance through shot after shot.

Skill & Repetition

Bowling isn’t just about power; a significant amount of hand-eye coordination is necessary to hit your spot consistently. This is the same time of hand-eye coordination that a pitcher needs to succeed and power and hand-eye coordination. Watching a top tour professional smoothly throw strike after strike is like watching a sharpshooter in the NBA drain three-pointer after three-pointer.

Just like sports have become a significant business, even amateur tournaments can draw big business to bowling centers. In fact, bowling centers across the country advertise top amateur events to attract more customers for both leisurely plays and joining competitive leagues. Those events sanctioned by the United States Bowling Congress created even more significant interest and more income. 


It’s not difficult for a person to pick up a ball and roll it down the lanes. However, even getting to the level of competing successfully in a top local league is something to witness in awe of the average player.  

To perform at the very top level requires a tremendous amount of skill, precision, concentration, and strategy. Bowling is more than just a game. It’s certainly a sport that can test the upper limits of a person’s mental fortitude, physical endurance, strength, and ability to deal with pressure-packed situations. 

The best players in the world push each other by continually raising the bar of excellence. Players must constantly keep up with the latest equipment to the latest nuances in technique and approach. To get an edge, bowlers will spend extra time and money to get the best equipment in an attempt to get a few extra points added to their scoring average.

Difficulty To Master

Be aware that even those top local amateur league players that average around 220 are on lane conditions that are significantly easier than those played by PBA Tour professionals. Those players are trained to hit averages in the 235 to 240 range in the most challenging conditions possible. To repeat a shot consistently in the most difficult conditions requires elite skill and concentration.

The answer to the question about how difficult bowling is it’s straightforward. Bowling is challenging to master. Sure, anyone can have a few laughs with friends, share a drink or two, and have a good leisurely time. But performing at the highest level, individually or as a team, is just as difficult as in any other sport.

Olympic Bowling?

Bowling wasn’t recognized in the Olympics until Seoul’s 1988 Summer Olympics. It was just a demonstration sport, but 12 male and 12 female competitors from 21 countries went to the Seoul Royal Bowling Center and put on a great display of bowling. 

A preliminary round cut the field to three men and three women by competing in an 11-game full league. During the afternoon, after the field was cut to three competitors on each side, who battled for the three medals. 

On the men’s side, Kwon Jongryul of Korea took the gold, Loke Chinto of Singapore won the silver, and Tapani Peltola of Finland won the bronze. Arianne Cerdena of the Philippines won the gold for the women, Asai Atsuko of Japan earned the silver, and Annikki Maattola of Finland earned the bronze.

Bowling was considered for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. Unfortunately, bowling, squash, and wushu were left off the game’s event list. However, the fact that bowling continues to be considered for the games is encouraging!

Bowling as a Recreational Sport

The beauty behind bowling is that it can serve as anything you want. You can even have a friendly game of lawn bowling with friends and family at a picnic. While it might not match the skill level needed to be a PBA Tour bowler, it is perfect for a nice, relaxed, recreational activity that can still give some health benefits.

You can find duckpin and candlepin bowling in parts of the far northeastern USA and Canada. These different variations of the game are fun and taken quite seriously and competitively. Bowling is a serious sport for top amateurs and professionals looking to be the best. At the same time, it is a recreational sport for those who want to exercise, relax, and ease their mind.


Without further ado, I will unequivocally say that bowling is a sport in every way, shape, and form. The top local league bowlers and the best professional bowlers in the world can show how bowling is a sport. There are mental and physical demands far beyond leisurely activity.