How We Bowl

@ Whirlyball Chicago

Some more about how we get our bowl on!​

S3 Leagues are first and foremost FUN and SOCIAL leagues.

Our goal is to have a good time with friends and meet new people.

– Games start right at 6:30 pm SHARP. Please arrive early so you have enough time to get shoes, grab a drink and find your lane. If you do happen to come late (please plan on coming early!), you can catch up on your frames ONLY if your team hasn’t completed the 5th frame, which is a standard bowling rule. If you come after this time, you’ve gotta hang out til the next game.

– We have the lanes reserved from 6:30-9:00 pm. If you finish your 2 official games before then, you can keep bowling and having drinks together until our time runs out! It’ll be fun to practice that spin you’ve been working on or bowl when it doesn’t matter anymore. And chat up the other team!

 – When you arrive, first grab a drink. Then go to the shoe person and say “Hey shoe person! I’m with S3, can I please have some shoes?” and they’ll give you shoes. Then head to your lane. Lane assignments are posted in the Schedules & Results section of our site. Once you get to your lane, simply enter in your name. You do this for each roster player or sub in attendance.

– You will be bowling in a match (2 games) against the team in the lane next to yours. Lane 1 plays Lane 2, Lane 3 plays Lane 4. Etc.

– Substitute players ARE allowed in this league. If you cannot make it one week, tell your team AS SOON AS YOU KNOW. Then you or your team can find a replacement of the same gender for the night. We want to keep the gender ratio of each team at 50/50 each night. But if a guy can’t come and for some reason no one can find a guy to fill in, bringing a girl is better than no one. The same applies for girls. When the substitute arrives, simply have them grab shoes, go to the lane and enter their name on the lane.

– This entire league is played using scratch pins to determine the winning team. What this means is that we are playing normal bowling with no tricks or bells and whistles. We’re doing it this way because when you get a good score and say “Yes! I got a 100!” you actually did. When joining as an individual or with friends, you tell us how good you are, and we use this to make all teams fairly evenly matched. We once tried to use handicaps where you never knew who won the games til the day after we played, the math was insanely complicated, and no one really knew what the heck was going on. Doing it this way makes it simple. You show up, enter your name on the lane you’re bowling on, and bowl. Then figure out who won by which team did better. Sounds fun!

– To determine who wins each game you take the total score for your lane and divide it by the total number of people on your lane that bowled that game. There can be up to 8 people bowling on each lane (which is a full team). For example, if 8 people show up to bowl on Team #1 and the total team score is 1200 for a game, you divide by 8 and Team #1’s average for that game is 150. Then say Team #2 has 7 bowlers and their team total score for the game was 1120. You divide that by 7 people being there and Team #2’s average for that game is 160. So Team #2 wins the game. You play the same team for two games each week and play a new team around your age range each week.

– Teams must have a minimum of 2 total bowlers to have a legal team for the night. You can bring subs in situations where many players cannot come, so you should hopefully always have at least 2 that can attend! If you cannot find substitute players, it’s not a problem at all because you are dividing the team total each game by the number of people bowling on the lane to determine your team average for that game. We do not have a fill-in list of players.

– There’s a decent sized parking lot next to and behind the building for those of you that drive. If that’s ever full, there’s pretty easy and open street parking around the area. We recommend taking public transit. If you drive, please be safe, responsible adults and DO NOT drink and drive.

– If you ever need ANYTHING AT ALL, can’t figure out how to use the computer score machine thingy, or if your pins get stuck or whatever, ask the venue staff at the front counter and they will help you out. If you have other questions feel free to reach out via email to us!


Playoffs tourneys are the final week of games. For the way we run playoffs, teams are placed into multiple independent divisions based on regular season records. The tiebreaker for playoff rankings is your team’s overall average throughout the regular season. Because these are totally social leagues, some players and teams won’t be as good at bowling as they are at consuming drinks and being social butterflies. While we try to balance team skill levels, it’s not always a perfect science so this method of running playoffs allows similarly skilled teams to play each other in playoffs, which means any team can win a prize in the end! The winner of each division’s championship the final night gets a bowling party to schedule another time!

One final thing

Some players will be freakishly awesome, some embarrassingly terrible. Whichever you are, come knowing that no one cares how good you are and that we’re all here simply to hang out and meet some cool people. This is the most rec league you’ll ever play in with how we run it, which is kind of what bowling is meant to be anyways, so make sure to drink plenty of beer, be super social, and don’t think too hard about winning games. After a few weeks it’ll just be you and your friends are hitting the lanes to bowl and winning becomes an afterthought. Also remember that all teams of individuals are put together at random by age (and friend requests). So while your team is your team for the season, make sure to meet others too! That’s the whole point of S3 Leagues!