Calculating Handicap

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Calculating your handicap

Here’s how to calculate a bowlliards handicap.

A bowlliards handicap is calculated exactly the same as a bowling handicap.

Most amateur bowling leagues and tournaments utilize a bowling handicap system. Learning how to calculate your bowlliards handicap will allow you to compete against other players with varying levels of skill and ability and have an equal chance of winning.

A bowlliards handicap is a percentage of the difference between your average and a “basis average” multiplied by the “percentage factor”.

If you’ve never played in a league, don’t worry. Leagues assign you an average until you establish one or apply your initial average retroactively as soon as you play a few games.

Ask your league operator or tournament officials what basis average and percentage factor they use. The basis average is high intended to be more than any individual player’s average. Typically, basis averages range from about 200, 210, or 220.

The percentage factor is used to calculate your handicap and will usually be 80, 90, or 100 percent, but may vary in special competitions.


Play enough games to get an average score. In league a starting player’s average is usually calculated after your first 3 games. The average is the total number of balls scored divided by the number of games played.


Find out what basis average and percentage handicap are used by a league you are interested in joining. A typical basis average is 210 balls with a percentage factor of 90%.


Subtract your average from the basis average. Then multiply that number by the handicap percentage factor to get your individual handicap. For example, if your average is 150 and the league handicap is 210 and 90%:

(210 – 150 X .90) = 54 balls

Your handicap is 54.

In the event of fractions of balls you always drop the fraction. For example, using the above basis/percentage, if your average is 175:

(210 – 175 X .90) = 31.5 balls

Your handicap would actually be 31.

Now add the handicap to your actual score for each game. For instance, if you have a game in which you score 160 and your handicap is 54, your adjusted score is 214.


Any time your average causes a negative handicap, you are considered a “scratch player” and therefore your handicap would be zero.


The United States Bowling Congress (USBC), the sanctioning body for bowling making the rules and regulations of play, defines handicapping as the means of placing bowlers and teams of varying degrees of bowling skill on as equitable a basis as possible for competition against each other. wants the same sense of equality for bowlliards players/teams and therefore agrees that this is the most effective scoring system available in the billiard industry.

The object of a league is to enjoy yourself and have some fun with your teammates and with others in your league community. Handicap leagues usually bring out goodwill in most of the players and an atmosphere of friendly competition emerges. Playing in handicap tournaments can be rewarding both by remaining competitive because of the handicap system and because of the enjoyment brought forth by the spirit of competition.