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Bowling with people who have special needs

Page history last edited by Andy Chang 14 years, 6 months ago

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Writer 1: Bowling is a fun and relatively simple sport that people of all ages enjoy.  This sport can even be enjoyed by people with special needs by using some simple tools.  The first case of a special needs bowler is one who is visually impaired.  Blind people and those who have bad sight have been bowling since the 1940's.  Following are the steps needed to Bowl for a person who is visually impaired: 

  1. Bowling using a guide rail

  2. Step 1

    Assemble the guide rail. A guide rail is made of lightweight metal or wood, designed not to damage bowling lane surfaces. You can find information on obtaining a guide rails from the American Blind Bowlers Association

  3. Step 2

    Position the guide rail on the left side of the bowling approach (on the right for left-handed bowlers), with one end at the foul line. Stand facing the pins with his/her elbow hooked over the rail. The sighted guide should position the guide rail so the other arm is lined up with the center pin. Once it is in position, place bowling balls in the guide rail rack to anchor it in place.

  4. Step 3

    Hold the ball with the thumb at the 12 o’clock position. This produces a straight shot. Novice blind bowlers should not attempt angled shots, since imagining the correct angle is difficult for a blind person and takes a lot of practice.

  5. Step 4

    Hook the left arm over the guide rail at the elbow. This lines you up for a center pin shot. Allow the elbow to slide down the rail as you make your approach and roll the ball.

  6. Step 5

    Ask the sighted guide (usually a fellow bowler) to tell you what pins remain standing.

  7. Step 6

    Line up for the second (spare) shot if one is needed. For pins on the left (pins 4, 7, 8) hook the armpit over the guide rail. For pins on the right (pins 6 9, 10) hold the rail with the hand and the arm outstretched. If pins are in the center, the same position is used as for the first shot.

    Bowling without a guide rail or if partially sighted

  8. Step 1

    Stand with one leg touching the ball return if entirely blind. When bowling in the right-hand lane, take one side step to be in position for a left-side spare or three steps for a right-side spare (this is reversed for the left-hand lane). Take two steps for a center shot. It will take practice and the assistance of the sighted guide to learn the length of the steps needed.

  9. Step 2

    Line up with the markings (dots) on lanes if partially sighted. To use the dots as a guide, stand with the ball arm aligned with the center dot. Hold the ball with the thumb in the e12 o’clock position. The shoulders should be square (perpendicular) to the lane.

  10. Step 3
  11. Roll the ball over the center dot for a center shot. For spare shots, use the appropriate dot to the left or the right. For example, roll the ball over the first dot to the right for a 6-9 combination and over the second dot to the right for a 6-10 combination. 
  12. The information used is an exact quote from the website stated




A guide rail helps a visually impared bowler stay in the game.




Bowling can also be enjoyed by those in a wheelchair.  A father in Gardendale invented a device for his children in wheelchairs.  The device is a pole with a U shape on the end that fixes to the front of the wheelchair and holds the ball.  The person will roll their wheelchair forward and when they stop the ball will roll out.  



Heath Horne, 7, takes aim at bowling pins using his father's invention, The Wheeling Striker, as brother Seth, 5,  watches.




Writer 2:    

The special olympics has a bowling division and has some rules on how one would bowl competitively using a wheelchair. The rules are as follows:  



1. Individual

a.Singles (one bowler)

b. Ramp Unassisted Bowl (one bowler)

1) Athlete aims ramp into position unassisted

2) Athlete positions ball on the ramp with assistance and pushes ball down ramp toward target. An assistant must

have his/her back to the pins at all times.

3) A bowler may be allowed to bowl up to three frames consecutively

c. Ramp Assisted Bowl (one bowler)

1) An assistant may aim the ramp toward the pins, but must at all times have his/her back to the pins and aim based

on direction (either verbally or by physical cues) from the athlete.

2) A bowler may be allowed to bowl up to three frames consecutively.

2. Doubles

a. Male (two Male bowlers)

b. Female (two Female bowlers)

c. Mixed (one Male bowler and one Female bowler)

d. Unified Sports® Male (one Male athlete and one Male partner)

e. Unified Sports Female (one Female athlete and one Female partner)

f. Unified Sports Mixed (one Male/Female athlete and one Male/Female partner)

3. Team Bowling

a. Male (four Male bowlers)

b. Female (four Female bowlers)

c. Mixed (two Male bowlers and two Female bowlers)

d. Unified Sports Male (two Male athletes and two Male partners)

e. Unified Sports Female (two Female athletes and two Female partners)

f. Unified Sports Mixed (two Male/Female athletes and two Male/Female partners)

The information provided about special olymics events is word for word from the specail olympics rulebook. 



  1. http://www.ehow.com/how_2303743_compete-bowling-blind-partially-sighted.html
  2. http://www.afb.org/seniorsite.asp?SectionID=68&TopicID=320&DocumentID=3363
  3. http://blog.al.com/living-news/2009/05/gardendale_dad_patents_device.html
  4. http://www.specialolympics.org/uploadedFiles/bowling.pdf

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