Honor Score Etiquette

Honor scores have become more prevalent over the last couple decades, chances are you’ve seen one or maybe several. However, to most that hasn’t diminished their lustre; 300 and 800 are still viewed as significant accomplishments. Depending on your own personal amount of success, you may or may not realize that there’s also an unspoken set of “rules” or an etiquette for how you should treat bowlers with a shot at filling out an awards sheet. Some bowlers may just have pet peeves or personal rituals that are disturbed by any attention or “consideration” they may be receiving, while other issues are more universal, but here are a few things you can do or avoid doing that will allow anyone with an honor score within reach to stay focused and in rhythm.

Even if you’ve seen or rolled your fair share of honor scores, they’re still fun to obtain or observe, but when it’s the latter, you have a few responsibilities whether you realize it or not. The closer a bowler gets to within striking distance of a 300 or an 800, the more the pressure builds, and the last thing you want to do is add to that pressure. If you’re several pairs removed from where it’s happening, you may not even realize it’s happening, but if you hear about it, chances are that you want to go see it, and who wouldn’t? However, most bowlers are trying to concentrate on the shots at hand, and observations of an ever growing audience certainly doesn’t aid them in doing that. Be discreet about participating in the audience, both with viewing and cheering.

Most people have either gathered or begin to gather when the bowler is within a few shots of the honor game or series, which is usually the 10th frame of a possible 300 or in the third game of a possible 800. While even I enjoy seeing the couple shots leading up to the definitive shot, you still have to realize that up until then, nothing is on the line yet, but those few shots can be the most pressure packed shots for a bowler. If they fail there, the result is nothing more than a good game, however some are able to relax slightly on the last shot, knowing that there’s only one more shot between them and an honor score, while for others, the final shot is just as nerve wracking as the few before it. Either way, an audience assembling, or premature applause and cheers can add a significant amount of pressure to the bowler, because now not only are they concerned about their achievement, but also about not disappointing the crowd. Save your applause or cheers for after the deciding shot has been released. Cheering after the shot that gets the bowler into the 280’s or 780’s serves no purpose but to add pressure or distraction for the final shots.

What if you’re on the pair next to this bowler or even on the same pair? The best thing you can do is go about business as usual. There’s a certain cadence or rhythm to everyone taking their turn when it comes, and if you break that to wait on a bowler or even wave them ahead of you, it disturbs that rhythm. Even if the bowler is up at the approach early and is ready, let them wait until it’s naturally their turn. They may be taking extra time to refocus or concentrate, and not taking your regular turn in favor of allowing them to go may be rushing them. If the bowler is nervous and making small talk about what they’re doing, engage them calmly. Say something encouraging or supportive, don’t reinforce their nerves. If the bowler appears as if they are just throwing any other shot, act the same yourself. Take your turn and concentrate on your own shots, you’ll still be able to watch the final shot with everyone else within lane courtesy range.

Most veteran bowlers with several honor scores or a lot of experience will most likely be unfazed by the pressure or an audience, but that still doesn’t mean that you can’t upset their rhythm or rituals. A change in flow or pace can disrupt them, even if their heart rate is normal and they are focused. The experienced bowler will have developed routines to enhance their concentration, and while pressure may no longer be a factor for them, any interruption could be a factor regardless of how sound their mental and physical game is.

If you’re a witness to a possible honor score, encourage everyone else to give the bowler some space and consideration. If you find yourself in position for an honor score yourself, you’ll understand and appreciate those that show you the courtesy of allowing you to simply do your thing. Have a beer and celebrate afterwards, but don’t count yours or anyone else’s chickens early, or no rings may hatch!

Extra: On a different tone, check out this user’s youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoHKCGy5V_AaM4Ezd5yCULw I wouldn’t recommend trying this yourself unless you know the bowlers well, but this is an excellent view of the lighter side of the game! Enjoy!