Position Round in Bowling

What Is a Position Round in Bowling?

Ryan Ciminelli
Ryan Ciminelli was second after position round but won the championship. Photo courtesy PBA LLC

Ah, position round. Often the most exciting part of any bowling league or tournament, with the possible exception of the actual championship matches, position round is the final round that determines positioning. See how convenient that is? Position round.

Final Round of What?

tournament position round, depending on the competition format for that specific tournament, is the last game of match play or qualifying, meaning it's the last chance for bowlers to put themselves into position to make it to the stepladder finals, television show, or even win the title (again, depending on the tournament format). Note position round is, by nature, match play, so in an all-qualifying tournament that also uses a position round, players will have to adapt to one game of match play for that position round.

To use a practical example, let's consider the PBA Tour. In most tournaments, all entrants bowl a set number of qualifying games, with those cumulative scores determining the top 24 bowlers who make it to match play. In match play, bowlers compete in one-on-one matches, trying to get themselves into one of the top four or five spots (depending on how many bowlers will make the televised finals). Bowling high scores are obviously important, but so is bowling a higher score than one's opponent for that particular game, as the winning bowler receives 30 bonus pins added to his cumulative score.

The last game of match play is the position round. In this round, the bowler in the overall lead takes on the second-place bowler, third battles fourth, fifth battles sixth, and so on. This way, the bowlers who are in jeopardy of making the cut can earn their spots by defeating those who are also competing for those spots. After position round, the top four or five, depending on the rules of that particular tournament, advance to the television show.

Some non-PBA tournaments don't use stepladder finals, and position round will end up actually determining the winner of the tournament. Likewise, not all tournaments use match play but may incorporate a position round into qualifying. When bonus pins are involved, they add even more potential for excitement for position round, as players from further back in the field can bowl huge games, combined with bonus pins, and jump over players ahead of them who bowl small games and don't win. Bowling fans enjoy the chaos and barrage of math necessary to keep track of a position round as all the parameters change with each shot by each player.

In a league position round, the idea is the same. The final week before roll-offs, the top team is pitted against the team in second, third versus fourth, etc., giving teams one last chance to knock someone out and jump in themselves. While there are detractors to having a position round at all, usually saying it's not fair to make players bowl on pairs of lanes on which they've already bowled against opponents they've already faced, there is too much potential excitement involved for the fans to take it away.

Enough of the Conditions

Because it's bowling, everything depends on something else. Position round might be this unless it's that, but it could be this, and on and on. Put in general terms, position round is the final round of bowling prior to final seeding for a championship, and it always involves one versus two, three versus four, five versus six and so on, all the way down to the lowest place in the standings.