Bumper Bowling, When To Remove Them, And When You Should Keep Them


Bowling isn’t easy for everyone, especially children or adults with special needs. This is why many parents start teaching bowling to their kids while using the bumpers. Chances are, your children also started with bumper bowling and got the chance to hit some pins with every throw. It helps them gain confidence and get better at throwing the ball at the right angle. But, however good they are at bumper bowling, they cannot continue it for a long time. Ultimately, you have to train them to play without bumpers while avoiding the gutter. 

When should you use bumpers?

You must have noticed how your child wants to be a part of the bowling game, but every try ends up in the gutter. Their excitement and interest seem to diminish with every throw when they fail to hit the pins. 

This is where bumper bowling comes into the story. You can completely eliminate gutters from the play and let your child play to their heart’s content. Bumper bowling makes the game more accessible not only for children but also especially differently able-bodied people. The technique doesn’t guarantee strikes or spare, though. But at least the ball will be hitting some of those pins, right?

Though people consider it unfair, bumper bowling gives everyone a fair chance at the game. It can boost the player’s self-confidence and interest in the game. And if most of these players will grow out of using bumpers, there is nothing wrong with using them at the start. 

When can my kid bowl without the bowling ramp?

The smallest bowling ball weighs around 6lbs and can be heavy for little kids to pick up. Not only that, but the ball-throwing technique can also be difficult for younger players. This is why many parents use the bowling ramp to let their kids slide the ball into the bowling lane. 

If you want your kids to develop an interest in the game, there is no point in making it harder for them. Instead, it is better to let your children start playing with a ramp and bumpers. Let them have a good time, gain confidence, and learn about the game as they play. 

The right time to let your child throw the ball without the bowling ramp is when they are strong enough to pick the ball. At the start, they might need to use both their hands to pick the ball, but eventually, they will shift to just one hand. But, make sure that you stand with them, especially when they have newly started playing without the ramp. 

So, if your child is strong enough to pick the 6lb bowling ball, you can remove the bowling ramp. However, keep in mind that your child may take some time to develop hand-eye coordination during their throws. 

You will need to teach them some rules of playing; such as where to hold the ball, how to approach and stick the landing etc. They will need your help in learning about how to swing the ball and where to aim during the throw. You can teach them the “granny style” bowling where they can roll the ball between their legs. This will teach them where to aim for. 

At what age can I remove the bumpers for my child?

Most bowling centers have an age restriction on using bowling bumpers. Usually, it is allowed till children of 8 years in age, since older children can damage the bumpers with a fast or hard throw. 

However, age is not all that you need to consider when removing bumpers for your child. You need to consider the fact that everyone has different learning abilities and focusing skills. And one of your children might take a longer time on the bumper than the other one.

To shift to bumper-free bowling, your child must first learn how to bowl properly. And if they learn it soon, you can transition them to bumper-free bowling. Still, you shouldn’t try to forcefully shift them to bumper-free bowling, or it might discourage or frustrate them. 

What do I do if my kid won’t bowl without bumpers?

If your child is hesitant to play without the bumpers, they might not be confident with their skills yet. In that case, I suggest two things: consistency and practice. On the other hand, if your child is actually interested in the game and learning about how to play, you should spend more time in practice. This will build up their interest further and significantly improve their skills. 

Even if you continue practicing with the bumpers, make sure that your child is learning other rules of the game as he or she plays. Teach them how to hold the ball, how to aim for the pins, where to stick the landing, and when to swing the ball. In addition to this, you can teach them the following techniques:

  1. Bowling with a single hand

Many children start bowling with both hands. When transitioning them to use one hand, stand by their side, ask them to hold the ball, and stand with the opposite foot in front of the other. Start with the ball at the waist, push it, swing it, and finally roll it out. This technique will teach them how to balance themselves and the ball during a throw. 

  1. How to approach the foul line 

Ask your kid to walk back 4 steps from the foul line and use that as a starting point. This will teach them how to determine their starting point and where to stop. 

  1. Spot Bowling 

Ask them to focus on the target and try to aim their ball at it. Make them pick an arrow and throw the ball using it as a guide to the target. Spot bowling is helpful for new beginners and young players to learn how to set a target. 

Once they learn all these techniques, their throwing technique will also improve with time. They will realize that having the bumpers up doesn’t guarantee strikes or spares, but it is done through accurate hits. Eventually, they will be confident enough to play without the bumpers. 

Bumper bowling leagues

Even though many people suggest that bumper bowling is “cheating,” there are many people who still support it. Many bowling arenas also arrange bumper bowling leagues for children of age 5 and up to 15 years old. If your child still needs some time with bumper bowling, this might be a good option. Such competitions boost the players’ self-esteem and promote their interest in the game. If you want to encourage your child to play more, you can get them to participate in such leagues. 

Bowling with kids can be a fun activity to help them get over boredom and laziness. With the bowling bumpers, your child can easily participate in the family bowling nights. But at the right time, you will need to step up the game and teach them how to bowl without the ramp and bumpers. The process might take some time and a lot of practice. So make sure whenever you decide to give things a change, your child is ready for it. 

Regardless of what people say about bumper bowling, it has, no doubt, encouraged many people to play. If this innovation didn’t exist, many bowling centers would be empty right now. So don’t let guilt force your child into something they’re not ready for. Let them enjoy the game and help them move towards improvement in their own time.

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