107c. Substitutes and/or Replacements


A substitute is a bowler who replaces another who is scheduled to participate in a USBC league, or bowls for a team with an incomplete roster.


The following shall apply to substitutes and/or replacements:

  1. Scores bowled by a substitute shall count for the games bowled.

  2. A substitute must be a member of USBC, a state association and a local association, where required.

  3. A substitute may bowl with any team in the league, but may not compete on more than one team in the same league for any regularly scheduled games each week, unless otherwise provided by league rule. (See Rule 107a.)

  4. The average of a substitute shall be kept. Should a substitute later be added to a team’s roster, his/her average shall be continued.

  5. Scores bowled through the efforts of more than one individual player shall not qualify for league or USBC individual awards. (See Rule 118a for average information.)

  6. In mixed leagues, a substitute or replacement may be of either gender, unless otherwise provided by league rules.

  7. A player removed from a game cannot return to bowl in the same game.

  8. Substitutes are not entitled to attend league meetings.

  9. A team must be allowed to add a replacement when its roster is less than the playing strength of the league.

  10. Unless otherwise provided by league rules:

  1. Substitutes are not required to pay league fees.

  2. A captain may replace any player at any time during a game with another eligible player.

  3. When substitutes are made during a game, the score counts only for team score.

  4. A team using a substitute is eligible for all high team prizes.



NOTE:  When a substitution is made during a game in a handicap league, each player receives 1/10 of his/her single game handicap for each frame bowled. For example, an original player with a single game handicap of 19 pins completes six frames and a substitute with a single game handicap of 22 pins completes the remaining four frames:


Original player 1/10 of 19 = 1.9 pins x 6 frames = 11.4 or 11 pins. Substitute player 1/10 of 22 = 2.2 pins x 4 frames = 8.8 pins or 8 pins.


The fraction is dropped from each individual’s handicap, not from each frame.


In leagues using the team method of handicapping, the same procedure is used. Determine the team handicap with the original player and with the substitute in the lineup. Then apply the handicap based on the number of frames completed by each player.


Youth leagues:

  1. Leagues may allow substitutes present and not needed on a team to bowl for average and USBC awards.



Commonly Asked Questions – Rule 107c.




In my league, there are five members on each team, we would like to carry six members so we can rotate each week. We were told that another bowler would be considered a substitute. Can we add another member who bowls only for us and is a full-fledged member?

Rule 100a, Item 1(b) indicates the league decides the team playing strength, but each team is allowed to determine if there will be additional members, unless league rules limit the roster. If your league did not adopt a rule limiting each team to five members, additional member(s) could be added to the team roster.



May a substitute bowl one game with one team and bowl the remaining two games with another team?

If a league did not adopt a rule to allow a substitute to bowl with more than one team in a match, a substitute cannot compete on more than one team in the same scheduled match. For example, a substitute could not bowl with a team at the regularly scheduled time and then again with another team that may have been granted permission to postpone that match.




Our team has six members on its roster, but only five members bowl each week. Can the additional member on our roster bowl with another team on league night?

Yes, additional roster members may bowl with other teams as substitutes when they are not scheduled to bowl with their team, unless league rules state otherwise or the league has a past precedent of not allowing these substitutions. If there is a question on the past precedent of the league, the league’s board of directors must meet and make a decision by majority vote.



May a league adopt a rule stating no new members be allowed for the last few weeks of the season, the position round or for the playoff?

Yes, however, according to Rule 107c, Item 9, a team must be allowed to add players when its roster is less than the playing strength of the league. For example, if the playing strength is five, teams must be allowed to have at least five members. A rule limiting additions or replacements to a team after a certain date may not be enforced if the team does not have the full playing strength on the roster. After the playing strength is reached, the league rule should be enforced, and a team is not allowed to add members to the team.




Can a league adopt a rule that limits each team to naming two substitutes who bowl only for a particular team during the season?

Yes. There are two types of substitutes: designated and roving. A designated substitute generally bowls for one team as needed. A roving substitute is allowed to bowl with any team.

Although USBC recommends roving substitutes be used, league rules may be adopted for using designated substitutes, and for setting a substitute limit. However, without a league rule, a team could have any number of designated or roving substitutes.



What is the difference between a roster member and a substitute?

Roster members generally pay league fees when they bowl and receive a prorated share of the team prize money. They have the same status in the league as other regular members and are eligible for individual awards offered by the league if they bowl the required number of games. A substitute usually does not pay league fees. Some leagues require the sub to pay bowling fees, but the regular members pay the prize portion. A substitute is not eligible for individual league prizes unless the league rules state otherwise. A league may by rule designate additional roster members as substitutes.



May a league adopt a rule that substitutes not be allowed?

Yes, however it is not recommended as it can place undue hardship on a team when members are absent due to illness or other reasons beyond their control. If a league believes a team might bring in high average bowlers as substitutes, the league may set eligibility requirements. For example, leagues may adopt a rule stating a substitute’s average cannot exceed the absent member’s average, or the substitute’s average must be within a specified number of pins of the absent member’s average.