Bowling For Children with Disabilities
This article was developed through a collaborative effort between NCPAD and BlazeSports.
Bowling is a very popular recreational and competitive activity enjoyed by individuals of all abilities. It is an indoor activity with minimal equipment adaptations and is easily accessible across the country. Bowling is an official activity of the United States Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF), the National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA) , Special Olympics International (SOI), and the American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA).
A wide range of adapted equipment is available for individuals of all ability levels to participate and compete in bowling.
- Ball ramps: Several different models of ramps can be used from the standing and sitting positions. Ball ramps allow individuals who are unable to throw a bowling ball to participate in bowling. The most popular ramps are made of tubular aluminum that is lightweight and disassembles easily for storage. Some commercial ramps have swivel bases that allow directional control. Non-commercial ramps work just as well and can easily be made from wood.
- The Poss-I-Bowl is a switch-controlled device that attaches to any tubular bowling ramp. The user presses a switch, which releases the ball. The ball then travels down the ramp and onto the lane.
- Ball Pushers: Ball pushers or bowling sticks can also be used from a standing or sitting position. Ball pushers provide the participant with increased control over the force of the throw and the angle at which the ball travels down the lane. These come in two popular forms: the adjustable model and the triangular model. Each is fitted with protective coating to prevent scratching the floor.
- Aids for persons who are visually impaired: People who are visually impaired need only to stay oriented toward the pins to participate in the fun of bowling. There are three commonly used aids to help visually impaired bowlers obtain a straight throw: (1) a commercial bowling rail, (2) a makeshift guide rope, or (3) a carpet strip.
Organized Bowling for People with Disabilities
Special Olympics Bowling
Special Olympics bowling teams are grouped into divisions according to the athletes’ ability levels, ages and genders. There is also a Unified Sports® division composed of athletes with and without mental retardation competing on the same teams. There is a wide range of events in Special Olympics bowling, including singles, doubles, four-person team bowling, Unified Sports® doubles and team, target bowling, and frame bowling. For more information, contact Special Olympics International (SOI)
United States Deaf Bowling Federation
The United States Deaf Bowling Federation (USADBF) is the national sports organization that represents bowling for the United States Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF). Anyone interested in becoming a member should contact USADBF and must be a member of USADSF. To make the U.S. Deaf Bowling Team, USADBF members must try out and qualify. For more information, contact the USADBF.
The National Disability Sports Alliance (NDSA) offers organized bowling in four divisions: A, B, C, and D. Participants in divisions A and B use ramps as aids in bowling. Division A bowlers are allowed limited assistance from a coach while division B bowlers are not. Division C is composed of wheelchair and ambulatory athletes with classification levels 3 to 6. Division D is composed of classification levels 7 and 8. For more information, contact the NDSA.
American Wheelchair Bowling Association
The American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA) encourages bowling as an excellent activity for rehabilitation and recreational exercise for all individuals who use wheelchairs. The AWBA sponsors league and tournament competitions. It also offers instructional books and videos to help interested persons get started in wheelchair bowling or improve their skills. For more information, contact the AWBA.
American Blind Bowling Association
The American Blind Bowling Association (ABBA) publishes a newsletter three times a year. Interested individuals can become members for a $9 annual fee. For more information, contact ABBA.