USBC 2020-2021 RULES

Tournament Best Practices

The new bowling season has begun, and while we are excited to see everyone hit the lanes for some great local and state competition, we also want to help make sure it is done as safely as possible.


USBC recently published the following "best practices" documents for its own events and to offer guidance to bowlers and tournament directors as they return to competition in a COVID-19 world. While these “best practices” were created with USBC events in mind, they can be applied to all tournaments.


USBC Open Championships and Women's Championships


USBC Short-Duration events 


USBC Association events


Complete details about USBC and COVID-19 can be found here.


More information regarding tournament rules can be found here.


New Rules

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, USBC has enacted several rules that impact bowlers. Rule 14 - Emergency Authorization allows USBC to temporarily modify the General Playing, Awards, League and Tournament Rules under specific circumstances. Information regarding any active authorizations will be posted on


Rules effected under Rule 14 include:


Rule 18 - USBC will temporarily allow the use of isopropyl alcohol, aka rubbing alcohol, on the outer surface of the ball at any time during USBC-certified competition.


Rules 320a and 320b - USBC will temporarily allow individual teams to compete on a single lane without the requirement to rotate lanes after each frame.


USBC High Score Awards and Average Recognition - USBC will temporarily extend recognition of scores bowled on a single lane for USBC High Score Awards and for inclusion in the individual’s official average records.


No Balance Holes in Balls Starting Aug. 1

The rule eliminating balance holes in bowling balls takes effect Aug. 1, the start of the 2020-2021 bowling season. The rule states all holes in a bowling ball must be used on every delivery; any hole not used is considered a balance hole, making the ball illegal.


Bowlers who do not use their thumb no longer can have a thumb hole, as it now is considered a balance hole. They also need to mark their ball by scribe, engraver, or tool near the intended center of the palm with a plus (+) mark to show where they place their palm on delivery.


Click here for an FAQ on balance holes and gripping holes.


USBC Coaching Program Changes

The United States Bowling Congress has made changes to the USBC Coaching program. 


USBC has replaced the word “certify” with “train” across its coaching instruction series. Instead of taking a USBC (Level I, Bronze, Silver, Gold) “certification” class, members will be taking a USBC Level I “training” class. USBC is making this change to reflect the relationship more accurately between USBC and members who take coaching classes.


Similarly, USBC will no longer use the word “certified” as it relates to member coaches who have completed classes.


Tournament Manager’s Manual

USBC’s Tournament Manager’s Manual is a quick reference for everything you need to run your tournament, from the beginning to closing out your tournament.


For a copy of the Tournament Manager’s Manual, click here.


SMART Expands Policy Relating to Use of Scholarship Funds

The Scholarship Management and Account Reporting for Tenpins (SMART) policy recently was updated to expand the use of SMART scholarships for student-related expenses.


Under the new guidelines, a student can use their SMART scholarships to be reimbursed for expenses related to tuition and certain related student expenses, or to have a payment made for such expenses as off-campus housing and/or student-loan debt.


Click here to read more.