Editors Note

There have been a great many changes since the publication of this document. The USBC and the WIBC are now the USBC, United States Bowling Congress. Many more changes have been made in the blind bowling rules and procedures. I have left it up to the readers of this book to decide for themselves how they affect them.
Fred Nickl January 2013


This book was prepared at the request of the American Blind Bowling Association and is intended as a guide for sighted persons who will be working with the blind. The procedures outlined herein are what we believe to be the simplest method of teaching the blind. The procedures were decided upon only after much study and experimentation. The methods are not claimed to be the ultimate or the only way to teach, but will give the instructor a starting point.

I would like to express my appreciation to my two blind American University students, Maureen Sheedy and Seville Allen, who were so cooperative during all the experimental stages and still managed to learn to bowl. My sincere thanks to the American University Athletic Department and Bob Frailey, the Athletic Director for allowing the use of their bowling facilities for the tests and instructions. A special thanks to Oral Miller, and Earl Schary of the American Blind Bowling Association for their critical and helpful comments and suggestions. I am grateful to my friend Ron Morgan for his excellant art work and to Helen for her typing, art work and patience. Without the help of these special people, this book would not be possible.

Joe Zok
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Artifacts of the stone age indicating that people of primitive Europe rolled rocks at pointed stones or bones of animals, certifies bowling to be one of the oldest forms of recreation and competition. History records show that the ancient polynesians played Ula Maika, a game in which rounded stones were rolled at flat stone discs at a distance of 60 feet. While no exact date for bowling's beginning can be determined, the discovery of bowling instruments in the tomb of an Egyptian boy indicated the game had its beginning as far back as 5200 BC.

Modern bowling had its origin in Europe, in the northern provinces of Italy. Here, the Romans played a game similar to the present Italian lawn bowling game of Bocce Ball. Bowling at pins originated as a religious ceremony when parishioners rolled rocks at clubs, designated the Heide or Heathen. That ceremony was discontinued in the 5th Century. However, clerics modified the procedures and used the game for sport and recreation, hitting pins with a ball. Ultimately, rules were changed to include as many pins as there were players in the game. Later, larger balls were used and the game became popular with the nobility and upper class.

Variations of the game, such as skittles, shovel board, half-bowl, basgue and bowls soon spread throughout Europe, where the games were first played outdoors on grassy later on clay alleys.

By 1200 a single wooden board comprised the surface. Soon sheds were built over the alley to protect participants from the weather. In 1455 the first indoor wooden lanes were constructed in London. During this period the number and weight of pins and balls varied according to the materials available.

Martin Luther brought some order to the game when he wrote the first known rules for bowling and established the number of pins 9, thus standardizing this game which soon became the favorite game in his native Holland.

The Dutch settlers on Manhattan Island introduced the game of nine pins in the American Colonies in the 1620's, where the game flourished to the extent an official bowling green was established at Battery Park in New York City. This area is still known today as bowling green, and some games are still played there. Ninepins spread throughout the colonies and probably attained its peak of popularity by 1840. Until consruction of the Knickerbocker alleys in New York city in 1840, all games were played outdoors or under sheds.

the Knickerbocker was the first known indoor bowling lane in the united States. Because of heavy wagering on matches, gamblers eventually gained control of the game and regulated it rigidly. Rampant gambling caused the state of Connecticut to outlaw the game of ninepins in 1840, with New York, Massachusetts and other eastern states soon following suit.

No one knows who originated the game of ten pins, as the game suddenly appeared in new York in the early 1820's. It rapidly gained popularity when nine pins was outlawed. Nine pins were set in 3 rows of 3 in a diamond formation, with a point of the diamond facing the bowler. The additional pin was added, the back pin of the diamond moved, and the triangle we now know was formed.

 7 8 9 10  

  4 5 6   

    2 3   



While popularity of ten pins grew, the game lacked standardization until 1875 when the National Bowling Congress was organized. This group soon went out of existence, but historically it stands as the first organization to call for a set of specific game rules and standardization of equipment. It wasn't until 1895 when a regulatory organization, the American Bowling Congress (USBC ) was established that the game of ten pins was regulated and promoted. This organization, with headquarters in Greendale, Wisconsin, boasts a membership today of over 10 million male ten pin bowlers.

The Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC was organized in 1916 as the governing body for women in ten pin bowling. The WIBC is currently headquartered with the USBC in Greendale, Wisconsin and is still an organization of women operated by women for the benefit of women bowlers.

Both regulatory organizations have programs for junior, Senior and Collegiate bowlers. They also conducty annual tournaments and organize teams for international competition.

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When or where bowling by the blind started is not officially recorded. The first known record of bowling was sometime around 1910 at the Overbrook school for the Blind in Philadelphia where a limited program was conducted on a lane shorter than standard. Other residential schools for the blind were known to conduct limited bowling activities in spaces normally used for recreation and mobility activities. What guidance systems were used is not recorded, although it is thought that a variety of devices, such as string, ropes, bannisters, mats and walls were pressed into service as guides. For lack of a good guidance system, adequate bowling facilities, and lack of human understanding by sighted individuals, most bowling by the blind ended upon graduation from resident schools for the blind. The blind bowlers on the east coast, particularly around the Philadelphia, New York city and other large city areas managed to keep the sport alive and in the early 1940's a Philadelphia group banded together and formed a small league which traveled to various cities to compete with blind individuals and groups located in the area

The Delaware County, Pennsylvania Blind Bowling Association conceived the idea of a national tournament for the blind and finally got such a tournament underway in 1948 in Philadelphia. The first "NATIONAL" blind tournament drew only thirteen five man teams, most from the Philadelphia area The second tournament held in Brooklyn, New York in 1949, drew a few more teams, and interest in organized bowling by the blind started to grow.-

The thought of forming a National Blind Bowling Association was planted at the Third National Tournament in 1950, and in 1951 the American Blind Bowling Association was born. The basic concept was an organization to promote, encourage and regulate bowling by and for the blind. The ABBA has grown steadily and is now the largest organization for recreational activities devoted to the blind population.

Although membership in the ABBA is primarily in the industrial belt from Chicago to New York and the fringes, National tournaments have been held on both coasts and in Florida. Portland, Oregon and Tallahassee, Florida have both hosted National tournaments, as well as many cities in the rest of the United States and Canada. The growth of the organization was steady until 1978, when membership leveled off at about 3000 total members in 150 or so leagues throughout the US. and Canada.

The ABBA is currently embarking on an extensive program of publicity, instruction and organization to bring more groups into organized bowling and provide a proven avenue for mainstreaming many previously restricted visually handicapped individuals.

The ABBA provides general supervision and guidance for leagues and has instituted an awards system for its members.. In addition, they have created special categories for the totally blind and partially sighted as well as provisions for rewarding the sighted individuals who provide necessary assistance and compete with them on a regular basis.

The ABBA decided in the early 1950's that a simplified and somewhat standard guidance system was needed if blind bowling was to expand. The Association took the problem to Martin Mahler, a totally blind 'Brooklyn business man, who developed and produced the basic system currently in use. The size and design of the device has not been standardized for league operation as yet, although the National tournament calls for a 15 foot rail beginning at the foul line, with the option of a 12 foot rail being available. The present guidance systems are a great improvement over the improvized systems previously in use but still leave much to the whims of the various leagues as to location type and length. The ABBA is currently conducting research on guidance systems and is constantly working toward standardization of the game and equipment to be used

The main headquarters of the ABBA is usually located in the town of residence of the current Secretary/Treasurer The headquarters thus is rather transient as official changes of officers occurs. The current Secretary/Treasurer is located in Detroit, Michigan . The lack of funds to employ a permanent Secretary and the unavailability of a permanent location for a headquarters are two of the major problems the ABBA is currently working to solve.

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Instructing blind persons is an individualistic procedure, and many of the basic fundamentals of instruction must be modified or disregarded if the instructor is to get all points across to the student. In many cases you will be able to get the person in the proper position by verbal instructions, but most require some adjustment of positions, therefore, you must actually place the students feet and body in the desired position. You must then show the individual how you want the movement or exercise performed. This normally consists of actually moving the individual's body through the desired movements. Do not be afraid to touch blind students, as many times this is the only way they have of seeing what you want them to do


Before starting to teach blind persons to bowl, it is necessary to show, with care and detail, the bowling lane and all related equipment to each participant. This involves taking each individual on the lane and letting him feel or SEE each object or Item that will be used The instruction should start on the approach with the ball return, ball rack and retarder or ball stop. The orientation should include the safety procedures, particularly the finding and handling of the bowling ball MUST be conducted during this orientation. Explain that different manufacturers have different types of returns and stops and that all bowlers should become familiar with this mechanism before they bowl in any other establishment.. The next instructional item should be a walk on the approach to give the bowler an idea or concept of the distance to give the bowler an idea or concept of the distance allowed. Each student should then be shown the guide rail, ball return and the lane, the foul line, foul lights and head end of the channels should be shown and explained. If possible, it is recommended that each bowler be walked down the lane, from the foul line to the head pin. During the walk, they should be asked to note the number of steps and the approximate distance. Students should then be told the exact distance to better understand. After the walk to the pins, show the bowler the pin spots, the channels by the pin deck, the pin deck, the kickbacks and as much of the pin spotting machinery as is safe for them to see. Also let the student look at the pins to see how they are spotted and give them an idea of how far apart they are, how they fall and how much they weigh.

Following this, walk back to the bowling area, stopping at the foul line before returning to the bowler's benches. After this orientation, the student should be shown the bowling ball and shoes, and assisted in getting a properly fitting ball and shoes.

Additional orientation could include having them walk from their seat to the scoring table alerting them that the lanes they will bowl on are on either side of this table. Let them touch the telescores and score sheets. A complete tour of the bowling center is in order sometime during the early stages, so that the student will know the location of such things as the bathrooms, control counter, ball racks and other facilities that may be available .


Following the orientation and the proper fitting of equipment, students should be assigned to lanes, making sure that right handed students are together and left handed students are the same. This is necessary because of the positioning of the rail (see equipment specifications and placement) for each.

Initially one instructor should teach no more than two lanes at one time, with no more than two students per lane.

The student should be told what lane they are on, where the ball return is located in relation to the bowlers benches and guide rail, and the size and location of any obstacles on or near the approach and bowling area Each bowler should also be shown how to find their own bowling ball without getting fingers caught between balls. The students should be shown how to keep their hands and fingers on the tops and outsides of the ball closest to their body. Show them methods of turning the ball so identification can be made by each Individual. Methods shown will vary, depending on the type of equipment being used, but basically the tops and far and near sides of the ball should be used Advise each student to read the identification number on the ball if possible (HOUSE NUMBER OR LAST THREE DIGITS OF SERIAL NUMBER). If numbers are not legible, some other identification means should be used, such as nicks, or gouges. Initially different textures of tape can be pressed into service. The students should be taught to always check the grip on the ball before picking up from return to make sure it is the ball they have selected. Students should be taught to pick the ball from the return by the fingerholes as the other hand will be needed to find their lane, rail and position on the rail.

After this portion of the orientation, the student should be encouraged to always obtain their ball by themselves, find their lane and their position on the guide rail with a minimum amount of assistance.

During the technique portion of the instruction, the instructor should allow each student to execute the separate movements four or five times before having the next student up on the lane. This will not only speed the learning process, but be a time saver for the entire period, as time is not wasted looking for a ball or finding the position on the approach.


To assist the blind bowler? it is necessary for a sighted Person to call where the ball hit, how many pins are knocked down and what pins are left standing. This call procedure should be uniform, since variations tend to confuse the bowler causing them to miss easy shots or cause confusion over the remaining pins This is especially true for beginners. Calls should be clear and distinct and always in the same order. The best system found to date consists of

  • Tell where the ball hit on the pins. EXAMPLE: 1-3 pocket
  • Tell them the number of pins knocked down. EXAMPLE: pins 4-7-8, the three on the left were knocked down.
  • The numbers of the pins left standing. EXAMPLE: 2-4-5-0, left


for a difficult pin grouping you might point out on the bowler's back where each pin is standing.


A typical call might be: Hit the pocket, eight down, 5-8 standing.

By following this procedure, the sighted persons are able to greatly assist the blind bowlers to score better and to adjust for spares. The blind bowler should be taught to insist that the sighted persons who are helping become familiar with calling procedures and practices and attempt to standardize the procedure.

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ABBA (The American Blind Bowling Association)
The sanctioning and guiding organization for blind bowlers
The portion of the bowling surface from the foul line to the pins on which the ball is rolled. Also known as the lane

In team bowling, the last man in the line-up, usually the high average bowler on the team

The fifteen feet of the bowling area in front of the foul line where the approach and delivery are executed

An indication of the bowler's ability. It is computed by dividing the total number of pins knocked down by the total number of games rolled

The 2-7 or 3-10 split

A reverse hook. A ball that curves from left to right on the lane (right handers, opposite for left handers)

the 7-10 split

Missing standing pins with the second ball in a frame. Also called an error

In scoring, one tenth of a game. Also called a frame

A hit to the opposite pocket. Also called a jersey in some areas

The 1-2-3-5 or 2-4-5-8 or 3-5-6-9 leaves

Modern term for the gutter

CHERRY picker
chop the front pin off of a spare leave. For example: leaving the 9 pin when trying to make the 5 & 9 leave

A game with no open frames. Strikes or spares in all frames

The number of pins knocked down on the first ball after a spare, or the total in two balls after a strike

A ball that moves in a rainbow type path on the lane; It begins to hook very early in its trip down the lane

Pins lying on the pindeck or in the gutters after the first ball of a delivery

The action of the pins on the ball after the ball hits them, causing the ball to veer and change direction

An illegally weighted ball. Ball is off balance

Two (2) strikes in a row during a game

The 4-6-7-10 leave

Two pins standing, one directly behind the other, so it appears as one, such as the 1-5 or 3-9

A 200 game accomplished by strikes and spares

A blow. Missing one or more standing pins on the second ball in a frame

The pins that are left that seem to create a wall. 1-2-4-7 on the left and 1-3-6-10 on the right.

Going beyond the foul line or touching the lane or stepping beyond foul line during a delivery

The black line that separates the approach area from the lane area. The bowler must stay on the approach side of the foul line during and after the delivery

A strike in the 9th frame of a game

One tenth of a game, also known as a box

Description of ball that hits the headpin square. Usually results in splits when on first ball. Could be description of hitting target dead center

The channels or deep grooves on either side of the lane used to keep balls in designated area and determine a legal or illegal felled pin

A ball that rolls off the lane and continues to the pit in the gutter

A mechanical device positioned on the approach to guide blind bowlers

An equilizer; a certain number of pins added to an individual's or a team's score to enable bowlers of unequal ability to compete together

The number one (1) pin. Pin closest to the bowler.

A ball that travels straight down the lane for a distance then breaks or turns sharply towards the pins

Another term for bowler, coming from the German word "KESEL

The high side partitions at the pit end of the lane

The number five (5) pin

Same as alley. Where the ball is rolled

The pins that are left standing after the first ball is rolled

A gamey the full ten (10) frames. Also used to designate area of lane where bowler is rolling first ball

Throwing the ball out on the lane so that it travels in the air about thirty inches or more before hitting lane

A strike or a spare

Same as blow or error. Missing the standing pins with the second ball in a frame

A ball that hits the headpin square in the middle

A frame without a strike or spare

A game of 300, achieved by rolling twelve (12) strikes in a game (1 in each frame+2 extra in 10th)

The space at the end of the lane where the pins fall when hit

Using the pins alone as a means of aiming the ball

The angles of the holes drilled in a bowling ball

The "strike zone" between the 1 & 3 pins for righthanders and the 1 & 2 pins for lefthanders

The same as a split

The track on which the ball returns from the pit to the ball rack on the approach

The same as the approach

The hidden or obscured pin in a leave. (See "DOUBLE WOOD")

The distance between the thumb and finger holes on the ball

Getting all ten pins down with both balls in a frame

Two or more pins standing after the first ball, with one or more pins missing in between. THE HEADPIN MUST BE DOWN

Using rangefinders or a spot on the lane as a point of aim for the ball

A ball that travels down the lane without veering to the right or left from the time of release

Rolling three (3) strikes in the 10th frame

Rolling three (3) strikes in a row during the game

The United States Bowling Congress, the controlling body for bowling in the United States

A ball with great spin that, when it hits, produces a great deal of pin action

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The equipment used in the game of bowling appears to be simple, but the manufacture, installation and maintenance demand precise measurements and careful handling. Bowlers should become familiar with the standards established for the equipment to fully appreciate the complexity of the game. Such understanding will also assist beginners in developing their proficiency as they proceed through the various levels of instruction and skill.

The specifications for all bowling equipment are established and checked by the United States Bowling Congress. This consists of inspection at installation as well as annual inspection thereafter by the USBC representative to ensure proper maintenance of equipment. Verification of the inspection is the seal of approval issued by USBC and is displayed by each certified bowling establishment. This assures bowlers that the equipment in use is the same specifications in each establishment that they might use.


The bowling lane, or total playing area is constructed of maple and hard pine woody or other materials which have been tested and approved. Prior to the approval for synthetic lanes in the early 1970's, -all bowling lanes were constructed of wood.

The wood utilized was normally 1&1/4" X 3" boards, tongue and grooved to insure a solid fit, and nailed together. To facilitate construction, lanes were built vertically, then laid over to provide the surface that meets the eyes. Individuals are looking at the narrow side of boards that are at least 3" thick. A typical bowling lane is 41 to 42" wide, and 62 feet, 10 & 3/16" long from the foul line to the pit (underneath pins) with an approach area of at least 15 feet.

After basic construction and alignment, the lanes are sanded and a durable finish applied to protect the wood. The sanding process must produce a surface that is free of gouges and grooves and leveled to a tolerance of 40/1000. The sanding of a wooden surface is a periodic requirement to maintain the surface as required by USBC.

The synthetic surfaces, in most current applications, are applied on top of existing wooden surfaces that have become too thin to resurface. The installation of these surfaces usually requires the leveling of the wooden surface and installation of a sub-surface suitable for the application of a substance to hold the synthetic surface. The new synthetic lanes are usually glued to the sub-surface in sections. All sections are suitably marked to resemble the wooden surface they are replacing.

A new installation of the synthetic surface would require the construction of the basic framework for the wooden lane, plus some appropriate surface for the installation of the new substance.

The bowling area is separated by markings and designated for their purpose. The front portion on the spectator end of the lane is called "THE APPROACH AREA". This area must be at least 15 feet in length, measuring back from the foul line (the black line cutting across the lane) towards the spectators. Some lanes have a bit more, but regulations call for a minimum of 15 feet.

The "BOWLING LANE". begins on the approach side of the foul line and extends 60 feet towards the far end, ending at the center of the head pin (pin nearest bowler). The area from the center of the headpin to the end of the playing surface is called the "PINDECK" and is where the pins are set. On wooden lanes, this area could be of wood (usually maple), or some synthetic substance to withstand the constant pounding of the machinery and falling pins.

This area is 2 feet, 10 3/16" long, measured from the center of the headpin to the end of the lane. This does not include the plank used to close off the end of the lane which is called the tailplank. The total required length of the bowling area is 78 feet and 3/16 inch. This does not include space for score tables, or bowlers benches, only the playing area.

CHANNELS (gutters)

The channels or gutters are located on both sides of the bowling lane and pin-deck. They extend from the foul line to the pit. From the foul line to the headpin, they are rounded or concave to allow errant bowling balls to roll freely to the pit.

At the pindeck, they are flattened and squared off, as well as lowered to prevent excessive rebounding of pins and to keep the ball from accidentally rolling over the pindeck.

The width of each channel is dependant on the width of the lane, as the total playing surface measured from the outside of one gutter to the outside of the other gutter must be 60 inches.

The minimum width must be at least 9 inches and the maximum 9 1/2 inches. This is due to the tolerance at on the lane width of 41 or 42 inches and the GO inch requirement./p>

The channels are intended to keep bowling balls within their' playing area, and to determine legal pinfall Balls rolled in the gutter are legal deliveries, but no pins can be scored once the ball is in the channel. A channel or gutter ball counts as a ball rolled during a game.


The pinspots are placed in the pin deck to designate the position of the pins, to check the accuracy of the automatic spotting equipment and to respot pins when they are accidentally knocked down by the machinery. On wooden lanes, the spots are usually constsructed of a colored wood or fibre substance, then embedded in the pindeck On phenolic or synthetic surfaces, they are manufactured as part of the material when the pindeck is constructed. The spots are 21 1/4 inches in diameter and arranged in the shape of a triangle, with the pinspot nearest the bowler designated the headpin or number 1 pin. The remainder of the spots are placed 12 inches apart from their nearest numbered neighbor. It is 12 inches from the 1 pin to the 2 pin and 12 inches from the 2 pin to the 3 pin. The number 4 pin is 12 inches from the 2 pin and so on across and down the lane. We, therefore, have them placed in a 36 inch triangle, with it being 36 inches from the center of the head pin to the center of the seven and ten pins. It is also 36 inches from the 7 pin to the 10 pin. All measurements are from the center of each pin. The spots are numbered:

7  8  9  10

 4  5  6 

  2 3  


It measures 31 & 3/16 inches from the center of the head pin to centers of the pins on the back row.


The foul line is the dividing line between the lane and the approach area and is also the dividing line between a legitimate delivery and a foul call. It is normally made of a colored fibre substance or plastic material and embedded in the lane surface.

The foul line must be at least 3/8 of an inch wide but no more than one (1) inch wide. Measurements for length of lane and approach are made from the approach side of the foul line. The foul line is included in the measurements for length of lane but not approach

The modern foul detecting devise is an electronic eye or photo electric cell or tube positioned and focused on the foul line. The device consists of two units positioned at the outside edge of each channel sending a beam of light from one unit to the other. The beam is usually the same width as the foul line and about two inches high. Any encroachment upon the foul line will break the beam and activate the foul light's bell or buzzer. It is completely automatic.


The pins are constructed of all wood, a wooden core with a plastic covering, or a synthetic substance, usually some form of plastic. The pin most commonly used has a laminated wooden form covered with a nylon sleeve and plastic coated. It is 15 inches high and approximately 4.76 inches in diameter, with the shape of the pin being graduated in various degrees, and with certain measurements being called for at different heights on the pin

The USBC equipment specification manual gives complete details.

Pins may weigh as little as 3 lbs,2oz each, or as much as 3 lbs 10oz each. The pins used may not vary more than 4 ounces in a set of 10. You could not have both limits in the same set. The heaviest pin that could be used with 3lb 2oz would be 3lb 6oz The variance allowed is to prevent unusual pinfall and leaves.


Bowling balls are made of non-metallic composition material, usually with a base compound of either rubber or plastic, or some instances, a combination of both. The circumference of a bowling ball is approximately 27 inches, and the diameter approximately 8.59 inches. Bowling balls can weigh no more than 16 pounds.

At the present time there is no minimum weight prescribed, although the lightest ball currently manufactured is approximately 6 pounds and is used almost exclusively by children or disabled persons. The most common weights manufactured vary from 10 pounds to 16 pounds. Present regulations limit the number of holes that can be drilled to only those necessary for gripping and delivering the ball, with at for positioning two (2) different grips on the same ball. One hole is at for balancing purposes and vent holes to the finger and/or thumb holes not to exceed 1/4 inch in diameter, and one hole for inspection purposes not to exceed 5/8 in diameter and 1/8 in depth. Most bowlers use a 3 hole ball, although some find it more comfortable to have the additional holes drilled for other fingers. This is quite common with individuals who have arthritis, or have suffered some injury to the hand or arm.


The guide utilized by visually handicapped bowlers is an additional piece of equipment that is peculiar to the visually handicapped and is used exclusively by this group. It is not intended as a supporting device. The guide rail should be used for positioning and guidance by the visually handicapped.

Current ABBA regulations do not out exact specifications for the rail or the exact placement of the device for league and local tournament competition. The ABBA does utilize a 15 foot long rail for it's national competition,with an option of a 12 foot long rail if the individual or special group desires.

The 15 foot rail begins at the foul line and extends back the appropriate distance on the approach. The 15 foot rail have a trombone like portion on each end attached to the supporting uprights. This leaves the front upright approximately 18 to 24 inches from the foul line with the same clearance at the rear.

The 12 foot rail has the trombone at the rear portion, but ends at the forward upright with a curved end that is attached to the upright. A three foot extention can be purchased to extend the twelve foot rail to fifteen feet. At the present time there are no standard rails available for purchase although several styles are available from various sources. None that we know of meet the minimum standards so far established by ABBE. The ADDA currently has a group formed to study the problem of standardization and production, but as of this writing had not made any recommendation for adoption of a standard rail.

The exact positioning of the rail on the approach has never been approved for league competition as several different styles and lengths of rails are in use throughout the ABBA The only item that has been standardized is the position in relation to the width of the lane. The preferred position is to place the rail on the first board outside the exact lane surface. It is positioned to run parallel with the lane and should provide a straight guideline down the approach for the visually handicapped bowler.

the length of the rail used determines the placement from the foul line. Normally the forward upright is placed 18-24 inches back from the foul line, when the 15 foot rail is used, this should have the front trombone portion end exactly at the foul line. The 12 foot rail would end at the forward upright. The rail should be placed on the left hand side of the lane for right handed bowlers and on the right side of the lane for left handed bowlers. When both right and left handed bowlers are on the same team it would require the installation of two (2) rails on the same lane.

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Etiquette in bowling is common courtesy between bowlers There are, however, some specific rules that should be learned and observed.

FIRST: as in driving and the rules of the highways, there is a bowling right of way. If two persons on adjoining lanes are ready to bowl at the same time, the person on the right, as one faces the pins, should be given the opportunity to bowl first without any interference or distractions.

SECOND: those not in the process of preparing to deliver the ball should stay off the approaches, back in the player's area Individuals should not go to the ball rack for their ball when another is preparing to bowl.

THIRD: Persons should always use their own ball or the ball they have selected for use. DO NOT useANOTHER PERSON'S BOWLING BALL WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION.

FOURTH: Individuals should assist with scorekeeping when possible.

FIFTH: Heckling is permissible and is part of the game, however, persons should not engage in this activity when bowlers are delivering or in the process of delivering the ball, It is distracting and annoying.

Finally, the foul line is the dividing line between a legal and a foul delivery. Bowlers should never go beyond the foul line. A person who deliberately slides over the foul line on each delivery is abusing the equipment and is discourteous to his playing partners.


The equipment used in bowling is not normally dangerous, but careless handling and bad manners can make it very hazardous, especially for the blind and visually handicapped. The ball can become quite lethal when handled carelessly. When finding the ball on the rack persons should keep their hands on top of the ball or on the outsides away from the return track. Hands should never be placed between balls or equipment. When picking up their ball, the visually handicapped person should pick the ball up by the holes, as the free hand will be needed to position themselves on the rail. Turning the ball to position the gripping holes at the top of the ball will enable them to use this method. When waiting for their ball to return from the pits prior to their second delivery, the blind bowlers should find the last ball on the return, or the one closest to the pins, and place their hand on the top. When the previous bowler's ball hits his ball he will know that is now safe to pick up his own ball. After picking up the ball, it should always be gripped firmly because a bowling ball can cause personal injury when carelessly dropped or allowed to slip from the hand. Do not swing the bowling ball off the approach, especially when in a crowd. Bowling shoes can become dangerous if the soles are wet or damp. Bowling shoes will not slide when damp, so bowlers should be careful when walking around the bowling lanes. Bowlers should also observe rules regarding the placement and handling of refreshments, especially beverages. Spilled beverages cause most bowling accidents.

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In bowling, as in any other sports activity, there are certain standard movements and procedures to be learned before attempting to compete with others. These movements and procedures are what we call "BASIC FUNDAMENTALS", and should be practiced to become familiar with game and competition procedures. Experts will concede that there is no one correct method of delivering the ball; however, research has found that most bowlers, including the professionals, have incorporated certain basic movements and techniques into their delivery in efforts to improve their game.

These basic movements are the basic fundamentals that should be learned and practiced.

Becoming proficient in the execution of these fundamentals will not guarantee a top bowler but it will enable the individual to bowl better consistently with a minimum of practice. Higher scores make for more enjoyment of the game and competition.

In this section, the fundamentals are broken down or separated into individual components, along with the teaching and learning techniques to enable the instructor and the student to better understand and master each component. We urge that the beginning bowler learn the movements and techniques in each component before moving to the next segment, especially before trying to put all components together in an approach and delivery.

It is not necessary to become proficient in each segment, providing the beginner knows and understands what should be done and how. The beginner can practice each movement separately and thus achieve desired proficiency before moving to other movements.


Before beginning any bowling instruction, the instructor must show the individuals the correct method of determining the correct ball to use. For most visually handicapped persons, you must show them the procedures, and find the best fitting ball available.

To fit a bowling ball, you are concerned with two major items:


To measure the thumb, have the student start with a straight thumb (no crooks) Insert the thumb as far as possible into the ball. Turn the hand while the thumb is in the hole. The student should just be able to feel the sides of the hole without any movement of the thumb. If the skin on the thumb pulls, try a larger ball. If students cannot feel the sides of the hole, try a smaller thumb hole. Use this method as a start, and caution students that they may have to try a larger thumb hole later, as the thumb has a tendency to swell slightly during bowling due to friction.

To measure the span (distance between holes), insert the thumb into the thumb hole as far as possible. Lay the hand flat across the span and the two finger holes. Use the crease under the large knuckle of the middle finger as a guide in measuring.

This crease should extend 1/4 to 1/2 inch over the hole. If the crease does not reach the finger hole, the span is too long. If the crease extends past the center of the finger hole, the span is too short. Do not bother fitting the ring finger, as the holes are pre-drilled at the factory to give the correct fit on the ring finger if the middle finger is correct.





Instruction on the shoes should be limited to the difference on the soles of personal shoes and the difference between personal shoes and rental shoes. When using rental shoes, the student should be shown the marking system for sizes and instructed to try the same size shoe as he wears normally. The student should have comfortable shoes and should try different sizes until they are comfortable.

Instruction should point out that the private shoes have rubber soles on the shoe opposite the sliding foot. This rubber should be on the same foot as the arm the student uses to bowl.

The sliding foot, or the foot opposite the bowling arm will have a leather sole for ease of sliding.


All bowling begins with the stance, regardless of the type of ball rolled, number of steps taken (if any), or the physical capabilities or abilities of the individual. The stance is the attitude assumed by the individual prior to start of a bowling delivery. Included items to be aware of are:

    Li>The manner you stand on the approach
  • The way the ball is held
  • The position of the feet, hands, shoulders and arms

A good stance should be consistent at all times to assure correct execution of all fundamentals. The body should be placed in the same position each time the individual steps on the approach to deliver the ball. Where the individual stands determines the direction of approach and ball path. The individual should always check feet, hands, knees, ball, head, hips, shoulders and arms each time the stance is taken until the position is automatically taken each delivery. Where the individual assumes the approach will vary for individual shots and changing lane conditions but the positioning should never change. Where the ball is held and how the hands and feet are positioned is an individual preference as long as the bowler is comfortable and able to assume the stance consistently.


To achieve consistency in bowling it is essential that a consistent and effortless swing be developed. The swing should require the minimum muscle effort of the individual. The pendulum swing is the easiest to achieve and the most consistent in execution as it provides accuracy with the least muscle involvement. Development of the pendulum swing only requires that the ball be used as a weight on a straight arm swinging from the shoulder, with the ball providing the inertia for the swing.

The initial exercise for learning the pendulum swing takes place at the foul line. The student should assume a position approximately 3 to 5 inches behind the foul line, with the foot opposite the bowling arm slightly ahead of the other and the feet slightly apart for balance, and pointing straight down the lane.

the student should bend at the waist as far forward as possible without losing their balance. The knees should be bent to allow the bowler to swing the ball as close to the approach and lane as possible without hitting the lane. The bowling ball should be held at the side, with the arm fully extended. The fingers should be under and slightly behind the ball. The thumb should be in towards the body and held somewhere between the 9 - 12 o'clock position. The wrist and elbow should be straight and firm. Most of the weight of the ball should be felt on the middle two fingers with the other two fingers there for support and the thumb gripping to provide proper balance and control of the ball.

The only muscles that should be used are those necessary to commence the movement. The swing should start with a forward motion (towards the pins) using only the necessary effort to start the ball in motion. At this point let the weight of the ball start your arm swing backward (towards player's benches) as far as comfortable. On the forward motion, the weight should again be allowed to provide the inertia necessary for delivery of the ball.

About 3/4 through the return forward motion, the ball should be delivered out on the lane as far as the bowler can reach comfortably.

The arm should then be at the farthest point to complete the natural movement of the swing in a follow through.

During this exercise and in all practice, the feet and body of the student should remain motionless and the body be as still as possible as movement or use of muscles will defeat the purpose of the exercise and cause a bad pendulum swing. Movement other than of the arm will cause inconsistencies in development of a good swing.


The one step approach and delivery is a prelude to a full approach and delivery, as well as a good position and exercise for learning a push-away, a good stance, and the basics of sighting and aiming. The one step approach and delivery is in use by many visually handicapped persons and others with different disabilities.

To learn the one step approach and delivery, the student should take a position approximately 3 feet behind (spectator side) the foul line. Students should assume the same stance as for learning the pendulum swing, The pendulum swing should be executed as learned with the modification of taking a step with the foot opposite the bowling arm as the ball comes forward on the delivery portion of the swing. The step should be started as the ball begins it's forward motion and be completed with the delivery of the ball on the lane. During the movement forward, the weight of the body should be allowed to move forward with the swing until the weight is on the foot opposite the bowling arm.

Learning this movement will teach coordination between feet and arms, and also increase the momentum of the ball. Some students may find it difficult to attain this coordination, but practice will enable them to overcome this difficulty.

The instructor can assist the student by swinging the bowling ball and verbally instructing the bowler on when to take the step.

The instructor will need to stand beside the bowler and actually make the movement with them to correctly execute the movement.

After most of the students have become comfortable with the one step approach and delivery, modifications to the stance may be made to allow the student to begin in an upright position and execute the delivery. Many times, this will enable the student to better execute and become familiar with the movements involved.

A further instruction that should be carried out at this time is the basics of sighting and aiming, and instructions should be given to the student on pointing the body at the pins and going in a straight line towards what they are trying to hit. To bowl consistently, a student should understand that the ball goes in the direction the body is facing. Instructors should position the bowlers in the middle of the lane and have them step straight ahead.

If the movements ar executed correctly, the ball should go approximately down the middle of the lane. Next, move the students to the right on the approach, and have them face slightly left, then execute the movements, again stepping straight ahead.

The ball should then go towards the seven (7) pin if correctly done.

Next, move them to the left and repeat as above, except face to the right. The ball should go in the direction of the ten (10) pin this time.

Stress that accuracy at this time is not important, rather understanding the concept of facing what you are trying to hit, execute the fundamentals, and the ball will go in that direction.

This concept holds true regardless of number of steps taken or pins that are standing. This concept will be refined and practiced later in the course, but the understanding can better be taught with the one step approach and delivery as not too many principles are available at this time to confuse the student.


The walk to the foul line involves a slight modification to the normal walk. The bowler should walk on the balls of their feet as much as possible as this will keep the weight of the body over the feet and defeat the normal procedure of the heels hitting the ground before the rest of the foot. Learning to walk correctly is not difficult, but could feel awkward to some individuals as weight distribution and balance have a different feeling. Learning to keep the weight over the feet will eliminate the danger of the student hitting their ankle as the ball is delivered. With the modification, the only thing required is a normal walking pace at a slightly faster than normal cadence.

To learn the walk, the student should be told that it is executed by starting with small steps and at a slow pace, and increasing the length of the step as well as the speed of the steps as the delivery is executed. The FIRST STEP of a walk should be approximately a HALF-STEP, taken with the foot on the same side as the bowling arm. the SECOND STEP is approximately a 3/4 length step, naturally with the opposite foot. The THIRD STEP IS a normal length step, and the FOURTH AND FINAL STEP IS a normal length step that ends IN A SHORT SLIDE OF 4 to 6 INCHES.

The exercise to learn the walk should be started with the student approximately 12 feet from the foul line, with the feet in the opposite position as used for the one step approach. This should place (for right handers) the left foot slightly ahead of the right (2 to 3 inches) and the feet slightly apart for balance.

For group instruction, the students should hold hands during the execution. The instructor should call the sequence of steps by right or left, ending with the slide. The initial speed should be rather slow, as some persons have difficulty starting off with the correct foot. An aid to teaching the walk is to have the student pick up the heel of the foot that is to move first and put all the weight on the remaining foot. This sometimes solves the incorrect foot problem. During the initial exercises the instructor should caution students about bobbing up and down, and sliding with the foot in front of the body. The weight should always be above the feet. After three or four times going through the walk, the speed of the walk should be increased to approximately that amount required for the walk and execution of the swing and delivery.

At this time, the students who require the use of the rail should be taught to slide their hand on the rail and not attempt to grip the rail either before or during the walk. The student can either run the fingers on the top of the rail, the outside of the rail or the back of the hand on the inside (toward student) of the rail. Any method is acceptable, as long as the student does not use the rail for support and balance.


The approach and delivery combine all of the elements that have been taught and become familiar to the student. It involves putting the ball in motion, executing the swing, the walk, slide, delivery and follow through. Some instructors prefer to have a complete review of all these techniques before starting the approach and delivery.

In executing the approach and delivery, there is one key that should be taught. THE STUDENT AND THE BALL START MOVING TOWARDS THE PINS AT THE SAME TIME In other words, the pushaway, or motion used to start the ball in motion and the beginning of the first step should be executed at the same time. Once the swing is started, the student should continue to walk during the swing, attempting to end up in the correct delivery position when the ball does. The student should be taught that THE LENGTH AND SPEED OF THE STEPS ARE ADJUSTED, NOT THE SPEED OR THE MOTION OF THE SWING. THE SWING SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE SAME, WITH THE WALK BEING THE ONLY VARIABLE.

After the student becomes familiar with the approach and delivery, instruction should be given on finding the correct starting position on the lane in relation to the foul line.

Students should be taken to the foul line, faced towards the players benches and instructed to use the rail and take FOUR AND ONE-HALF (4 1/2) STEPS AWAY FROM THE FOUL LINE. They should then position them selves on the rail by finding a joint, upright or some spot on the rail that can be used as a guide for finding the starting spot. A piece of tape or some other material may be used initially until the student has time to become familiar with the rail and accustomed to finding the correct position from the end of the rail.

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Although scoring the game seems complicated, it is quite easy to learn once you become familiar with the symbols utilized and the symbols associated with multiple scoring.

A bowling game or line consists of ten frames of rolling one or two balls in each frame to knock down all ten pins. The game score is kept progressively by adding each frame to the previous frame. The score is the number recorded in the tenth frame, and is the total number of pins knocked down in all ten frames.

A bowling score sheet has markings across the sheet for each person and down the sheet for each line or person bowling. Each game is marked with the correct number of frames, with two boxes in each frame to record the happenings within that frame. You must record the results of each ball rolled within these boxes.

The easiest method of learning to score is to go through a sample game, using all the symbols and giving the rules for each symbol as we come to use it A sample game might be


A strike is scored when the bowler knocks down all ten pins with the FIRST ball in any frame. It is indicated by marking an "X" in the first little box in the frame. When a strike is scored, the bowler is automatically credited with 10 pins for the ten that were just knocked down and given the bonus of crediting the number of pins scored on the next two balls to the ten pins scored on the strike. This number (10 plus total of 2 balls) will be written in the first frame after the next two balls are rolled. It can be seen that scoring cannot be completed on the first frame strike until at least completion of the second frame and possibly not until after the first ball in the third frame.


A spare is recorded when all ten pins are knocked down with the two balls in a frame. A spare is indicated by recording the number of pins knocked down with the first ball in the first box in the frame, and the symbol "/"; in the second box. A SPARE counts as the ten (10) pins knocked down, PLUS the bonus of the number of pins knocked down on the next ball the bowler rolls.

Again, scoring in a frame with a SPARE cannot be completed until the bowler rolls in the next frame.

Now that the individual has rolled two balls after scoring the strike in the first frame, we can complete scoring in the first frame. The score recorded would be The ten (10) knocked down in the first frame, PLUS the ten (10) knocked down with the two balls in the second, or twenty (20). This number is recorded in the space below the two boxes in the first frame.


A SPLIT is recorded when the bowler fails to score ten pins on the first ball, and two or more pins remain standing with pins missing in between and the headpin down. EXAMPLES: 5 7 pins 3 10 pins and 4 5 pins.

A split is indicated by drawing a circle around the number placed in the first box in the frame indicating the number of pins knocked down on the first ball. If the split is converted and the bowler knocks down all ten pins in the frame, a spare is indicated. If the split is not converted, mark in the number of pins knocked down on the second ball in the remaining box in the frame. Now that we have completed the frame, and the bowler did not convert the split, we can go back and score the second frame.

The bowler is awarded the ten pins for those scored in the second, plus the eight pins knocked down on the first ball in frame three, or a total of 18 pins. This number is added to the 20 recorded in frame one, so the bowler has 38 pins through the second frame.

When an individual does not score a strike or spare in a frame, the total number of pins knocked down in the frame is simply added to the preceeding frame. In this case, we had 38 in the second frame, so we take the 9 pin total knocked down in the third frame and add to the 38, making a total of 47 pins scored through the third frame.


A gutter ball is indicated whenever ball falls in the channel/gutter. No pins can be scored if the ball should accidentally jump out of the gutter. indicate the gutter ball by making a "-"in the small box of the frame that it occurred. Should the gutter occur after a foul it still counts as a ball rolled.

If it happens on the first ball, the bowler is entitled to ONE (1) more ball in which to score in the frame. If it happens on the second ball, the bowler is credited with ONLY THOSE PINS KNOCKED DOWN ON THE FIRST BALL ROLLED IN THE FRAME. THEY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO ANOTHER BALL.

Let's suppose that our bowler rolled the first ball in the gutter and knocked down 9 pins on the second ball. Since the individual did not score a strike or spare, we again would simply add the 9 to the previous total of 47 and record 56 in the fourth frame as the game total.


A foul is recorded when any part of the bowler's body goes beyond and touches the lane, building or equipment at some point beyond the foul line during or after the delivery of the ball.

A foul counts as a ball rolled in the game, but no pins can be credited. A foul is indicated by placing a "F" in the box in the frame in which it occurred. When the foul happens on the first ball in a frame, the bowler is again allowed one (1) more ball in the frame to score pins. The entire set-up or all 10 pins are reset and the bowler then bowls their second ball. The individual is NOT credited with any pins for the first ball even though some or all of them may have been knocked over When the foul occurs on the second ball in a frame, the bowler is credited with only those pins knocked down with the first ball in the frame. Suppose our phantom bowler scored 9 pins on the first ball, but fouled. All ten pins would be reset and the "F" would be recorded in the first box in the frame.

Our bowler, now scores 7 pins with the second ball in the frame. The number 7 would be written in the second box of the frame. Add this total to the previous frame, making a total of 63 in the fifth frame.


An error, miss or blow is the terminology used to indicate that the bowler did not knock down all ten pins in a frame and with the pins knocked down on each ball, which is recorded in the appropriate block in the frame.

If no pins are hit and the ball does not go in the gutter, we indicate this by the symbol "-" in the second box. Our bowler scored six pins on the first ball and two on the second, so again simply add to frame five and now record 71 in the sixth frame.


The remaining frames will be devoted to showing the combinations of strikes and spares and the increase in scores from multiple strikes.


These frames will illustrate the second combination of an automatic score of 20 in the bonus frame. This is a spare and strike combination. In seven we scored 8 pins on the first ball and the spare with the second. In frame eight, a strike was scored. This again results in the 20 scored and added to the score recorded in frame six, or 91 in the seventh frame. We must wait for further scoring until more competition has been completed before scoring in the eighth frame.


We have recorded another strike for the bowler in frame nine.

This results in two strikes in a row. The terminology for this feat is "DOUBLE". When this occurs, we naturally cannot score in the ninth at this point, but neither can we score in the eighth frame, as the bowler has only rolled one ball following the strike. We must wait until the individual rolls in the tenth frame before scoring in the eighth frame.


To complete the game and scoring, we will use three illustrations to give the variations that can occur.

FIRST, let us assume that the bowler scored a strike in the tenth frame. This strike is the tenth frame of the game. This strike now allows us to score on the strike recorded in the eighth frame as two balls have been rolled following the strike. We would combine the totals of 10 for the eighth, 10 for the 9th frame strike and 10 for the 10th frame strike or 30. This would be added to the 91 recorded for the 7th frame and give the bowler a total of 121 in the 8th frame At this point, we still cannot complete scoring in the 9th frame as the bowler has only rolled one ball following this strike. The game cannot be left in this fashion, as each game must be completed before beginning the next and scoring cannot be carried over to the new game. The bowler must now roll the bonus balls allowed by the strike scored in the 10th frame. Our bowler again scores a strike on his firsts bonus ball. This will allow completion of the 9th frame as 2 balls have been rolled. We again have 3 strikes in a row (TERMINOLOGY: TURKEY) and a score of 30 for the 9th frame. This is added to the 121 in the 8th frame and gives a score of 151 in the ninth.

We still cannot complete the scoring, as only 1 ball has been rolled following the strike in the 10th frame.

The bowler again scores a strike on his second bonus ball. This is of called"STRIKING OUT" and result's in another 30 for the 10th frame. Added to the 151 in the 9th, gives a total score of 181 for the game.

The second strike on the bonus ends the game and the bowler is finished. They are only allowed to roll the number of balls necessary to complete the scoring action in the tenth frame and finish the game. THEY DO NOT CONTINUE BOWLING.

In our second illustration, the bowler scores 9 pins on the 1st ball in the 10th frame. This gives 29 on the 8th frame strike, or a score of 120 in the 8th frame.

Our bowler makes the spare in the 10th frame. This at c completion of scoring in the 9th frame as two balls have now been rolled following this strike. The 10 in the 9th + the 10 scored in the 10th give 20 to add to the 120 recorded in frame 8.

We again have a bonus situation, but this time only one (1) ball is left for the spare. Our kegler scores 9 on their bonus ball. This is added to the 10 for the frame for a total of 19 to add to the 140 in the 9th frame, and gives a total score of 159 for the game. The bowler DOES NOT ROLL TO MAKE THE SPARE. ALL 10 PINS ARE RESPOTTED AND THE NEXT BOWLER ROLLS, OR THE BOWLER BEGINS A NEW GAME.

Our last example involves a no bonus situation. The bowler scores a 9 on the first ball as above. Scoring is the same as before and the bowler has 120 in the 8th frame. The standing pin is now missed for an error in the 10th frame. We now add the 19 (10 for 9th 9 for 10th) to the 120 in the 8th frame and have 139 in the 9th frame. Since no bonus rolls are required, we add the 9 for the 10th frame to the 139 and have 148 as a total game score for our bowler.


If possible, the visually handicapped bowler should be instructed on keeping score, utilizing a braille slate or some other device if possible. The instructor may have to draw the symbols for the individual initially, and make a sample game sheet for the student to use. In the absence of a braille slate or other means of marking, the instructor should assist the bowler in learning the symbols and bonus situations, and instruct them to keep a mental account of their score, and later compare with the written version.

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The illustrations in the scoring chapter show that normally the more strikes an individual can roll in a game, the higher the score. This leads many bowlers to continually experiment with various deliveries, positions from which to deliver the ball and many other deviations from the basics. The entire effort is to score strikes consistently, therefore having higher scores.

To better understand the theory of bowling for strikes, we should take a look at the action and reaction of the pins and ball when a perfect strike is rolled. It is called perfect because all ten pins react correctly ending in the pit with none left standing on the lane or lying in the gutter.

In this strike, the ball will hit mid-way or evenly between the one and three pins (right handers). This will cause the headpin to fly at an angle, knocking down the two pin. The two pin will go into the four pin, sending it into the 7 pin, knocking down those four. The three pin knocks the six pin into the ten pin, thus clearing those three. The ball will deflect slightly to the right and continue through the pins. The ball will hit the five pin on the right hand side, sending it into and knocking down the eight pin. Again, the ball will deflect slightly and take the nine pin into the pit. thus, all ten pins end up in the pit. In attempting to score strikes in this manner, the bowler is aiming for a point approximately 1/2 inch wide midway between the 1 3 pins. Any slight deviation from this spot will not result in a perfect strike, although the element of luck will many times result in strikes when pins rebound from the kick-backs and other pins.

For left handed bowlers, the procedure is reversed, with the ball hitting midway between the one and two pins, with the head pin being driven into the three and the ball sending the 2 pin into the four pin. The ball would then take out the eight pin instead of the nine, and the five pin would go into the nine pin.

To give the blind bowler a tactile example of how the pins are arranged take ten pennies and arrange them as the pins are arranged.

7 8 9 10
  4 5 6
   2 3

The student can readily see that hitting the correct spot for a perfect strike(called the pocket strike) requires great accuracy by the bowler which in turn calls for much practice and development of individual skills. While hitting the pocket is the most desirable method of scoring strikes consistently, the beginning bowler and in fact most average bowlers do not have the time or desire to develop the skills required. They do have other options to give them a better chance of scoring strikes however and should learn the alternatives.

Beginning bowlers should learn to utilize the dimensions of the ball, pin and lane to assist them in scoring strikes. In other words, the bowler should try to hit the headpin with the first ball rather than the pocket. This procedure will enable to beginner to score more pins without requiring the accuracy of bowling for the pocket. Attempting to hit the headpin on either side allows the bowler a much larger area as an aiming point as well as utilizes more lane space in which to keep the ball.

Rolling for the pocket keeps the ball in an area approximately 9 inches wide while hitting the headpin allows for almost 22 inches of lane space. In other words, a much easier task, especially for beginners. This method is called "AREA AIMING" and is used by many bowlers. The method allows the pins, ball and equipment to assist the bowler to the maximum. The pins will rebound from the side kickbacks and the ball will assist by hitting other pins and causing more pin action.

Whichever method is chosen, the bowler should strive to hit the headpin consistently with the first ball thereby giving the greatest first ball pin fall and normally easier spares to make.


The starting position for all bowlers will not be the same as physical appearance and capabilities will differ wideley among bowlers. Lane conditions encountered will also contribute to the variance in starting positions that can and will be utilized as the beginner advances through the stages of skill. The best method to use as a beginning is to position each bowler in the center of the lane, having them note the position of the arm and hand on the rail as well as the direction the body is pointed.

The beginner should then attempt to walk straight ahead and roll the ball. Practice will develop consistency in the positioning and walking and the skill will allow the bowler to make slight adjustments in the starting position to accomodate the abilities of the individual..

The instructor can assist the beginning blind bowler by placing the bowler in the proper position during the initial instructional and practice periods. In addition, the bowler should be instructed to take careful note of all aspects of the position in which they have been placed as well as notice all variations they take that deviate from the basic fundamentals previously taught.


Changing where the ball hit on the pins without changing or modifying the basic fundamentals is a simple procedure. It involves one rule that should be emphasized to students. The rule is: MOVE THE BODY IN THE DIRECTION THE BALL IS HITTING AND FACING SLIGHTLY TOWARDS THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

for example: The ball is consistently hitting to the left of the head pin from the or starting position. The student should move their body to the left and face slightly towards the right and walk to the right. This will change the path the ball takes on the lane and change the angle of delivery. The basic fundamentals are executed the same as before without trying to compensate for the path of the ball. In other words, THE BOWLER AIMS THE BODY, NOT THE BALL.

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Chapter 10 Bowling for spares

Bowling for spares again have the bowler to utilize the dimensions of the equipment to assist. Very few spares require pin point accuracy as there are usually two or more points of impact that will score the spare. Again, as in strikes, an exact position cannot be designated due to the difference in individual styles. Spares can however be designated by area allowing the bowler to select a position that will give the greatest chance for making the spare. There are only three (3) basic groups of spares with all designated according to area of pindeck where they stand.

FIRST: The center spares. Those in the middle of the lane. These include the 1-2-3-5-8 & 9 pins and most combinations Positioning for these spares should be approximately the same as for rolling for strikes. Slight variations will be necessary as skills increase.

SECOND: left side spares. These are the 4 & 7 pins with most combinations. The basic position for these would be further away from the rail with the body turned slightly in the direction of the pins. Walking towards the pins and execution of the basic fundamentals is essential in knocking down all spare leaves.

THIRD: Right side spares. These are the 6 & 10 pins and most combinations. The starting position should be taken closer to the rail with the body turned slightly towards the pins.

Again, walking towards the pins and executing the fundamentals.

Instructors should position students initially making sure the bowler is correctly aimed. Students should again be advised to take careful note of the position of all aspects of the stance and position, including the location and feel of the rail.

During the initial phases of strike and spare bowling, instructors should emphasize that proficiency in the execution of all the fundamentals and techniques taught will only be acquired through practice. Beginners should be given all encouragement on shots that are close to the desired method.

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CHAPTER ELEVEN Averages and Handicaps


A bowling average is computed to indicate the approximate ability of the bowler. It is commonly utilized in the formation of leagues, bowling tournaments and other forms of organized competition. Averages are also used when computing handicaps and in ranking or grouping individuals by ability. A bowler's average is based on the total number of pins scored and the total number of games rolled.

  • ADD together the total scores of all games rolled by the individual.
  • DIVIDE this figure by the total number of games rolled.

    (NOTE: Averages are only shown in whole numbers. No fractions or pins left over are shown. Any pins remaining after the whole number are dropped from the average to be shown. Do not round averages to the next highest number.)

EXAMPLE OF AVERAGE COMPUTATION: in league Susan has rolled nine games competition Her scores are: 137; 142; 165; 174; 117; 181; 147; 133 and 151.


TOTAL PINS 1347 NEXT DIVIDE BY NUMBER OF GAMES: (9 The result would be 149.6 or six pins over the basic average of 149. The six pins would be dropped from the computation, leaving Susan with a posted average of 149.

This figure available to persons would enable them to figure that Susan would roll scores between 139 159 approximately 70% of the time with 15%. of her scores being below 139 and 15% above 159. Exceptions to these percentages would be new bowlers who are practicing to improve and established bowlers who no longer bowl as much as before.


Bowling handicaps are score allowances that are given to teams and individuals to permit them to compete on an equal basis. Handicaps are computed based on the individual and/or team average(s) and are usually a percentage of the difference between the true average and a pre-determined figure.

Several different methods of determining handicaps are in use throughout the country but the two most popular methods are called the "INDIVIDUAL" and "TEAM" systems.

The individual method is the most common method utilized as it allows leagues and tournaments to award handicap prizes, trophies or other compensation to individuals without requiring additional administrative workloads to determine these special winners. Additionally, it gives all or most of the individuals competing a handicap thereby starting all participants from the same basis.

The individual handicap is figured from a Pre-determined average. This average is normally 10 pins or more above the highest average the group expects to have entering or engaging in their competition. This pre-determined figure is called the "SCRATCH" score. Any person entering who has an average at or above this score would receive no handicap and would be called a "scratch bowler". Popular figures that are in use are 180, 190, 200 and 210. Additionally, a pre-determined percentage figure would be established to apply in handicap. .:computation.

To compute an individual handicap, the average of the individual would be subtracted from the scratch figure. The percentage factor would then be computed. the result would be the individuals handicap for each game rolled. When figuring handicaps,,,• all fractions or pins left over after the whole number are dropped from the compUtation Handicaps are not rounded to the next higher number.

An example would be
PRODUCT answer) 24.8
SUSAN'sHANDICAP 24 (allowance given each game)

In team competition Susan's handicap would be added to the handicaps of all her teammates. This sum would be the team handicap for each game of competition. For individual awards, Susan's handicap could be added to each game as well as total score she rolled for determination of awards.

The same method could be Utilized for team competition but the scratch score would be determined on team total averages rather than individual averages.

The easiest team handicap method utilized does not use a scratch score but rather the total averages of the competing teams. The averages of members of opposing teams are added to determine the team average. The lower team average is subtracted from the higher team average. The percentage factor is then applied to the difference in team averages. The lower average team is the only team receiving a handicap. THE TEAM HANDICAP METHOD CAN ONLY BE USED IN LEAGUE COMPETITION WHERE TEAMS DIRECTLY OPPOSE EACH OTHER. IT CANNOT BE USED IN TOURNAMENT COMPETITION UNLESS IT IS AN ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT.

An example of team handicap is TEAM "A" TOTAL AVG. 865

Any fractions remaining after the whole number would again be dropped. Team handicaps also are not rounded to the next highest number.

There are variations of the two basic system that may be used but their use is normally specialized and for some special reason so are not in popular use.

Studies conducted in the past show that even a handicap of 100% does not always give even competition with the higher average bowlers winning a larger percentage of the time. It has been determined that the true percentage for absolute equality should be someplace above 100% but has never been (to my knowledge utilized in actual competition. Whatever handicap method is utilized, it should be remembered that:

  • Another method for calculating a handicap is based on 200. the formula is
    200 - average = handicap
    Thus, 200-150 = 50, a handicap of 50
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Organization and Management

Groups should be organized for competition in accordance withthe rules and regulations established by The American Blind Bowling Association; The United States Bowling Congress and Women's International Bowling Congress. These rules are available from the parent organizations and the local bowling lanes.

The group should be organized to provide the best competition possible within the group. Normally you should provide at least one (1) totally blind individual on each team and one sighted (Auxiliary) individual on each team. These sighted individuals are required to call hits and pins for each team and to keep the team score as well as assist in teaching the beginners. Teams should be organized to give each team approximately the same beginning average. Initially, assign no more than four (4) regular bowlers to each team. This is in the interest of time needed to complete rolling three (3) games within the the time usually allocated by the bowling establishment and custom for such competition.

Individuals not assigned to regular team status, or who do not desire regular team status should be utilized as much as possible as substitute bowlers within the league.

If lanes and equipment are available, bowlers who desire regular status should be formed into new teams to compete regularly within the league.

The USBC AND WIBC require bowling on two adjoining lanes for league competition but will relax their rules to permit bowling on one (1) lane when requested by visually handicapped groups. Some of the ABBA members conduct their leagues on two lanes and have found that once the members became accustomed to changing lanes they were able to roll as quickly as rolling on one lane. The group should be polled for their preference prior to beginning bowling and then again after a few weeks to at least try the two lane procedure.

Some visually handicapped leagues with many totals or individuals with additional handicaps find it faster for bowlers to roll two (2) frames at one time thereby not wasting time looking for bowling balls and finding the position on the lanes.

This then is another option allowed by ABBA , but not by USBC & WIBC . Options available for the group should be discussed prior to the commencement of play and again at timely intervals after the bowlers become fairly proficient in bowling and league operation.

It should be noted that this practice is not possible when using the automatic scoring available in most bowling houses.

Prior to the commencement of organized competition, the groups should roll to establish averages (3 games at least) and assist in the formation of teams. This pre-competition bowling also allows the establishment of handicaps prior to the start of competition. The handicap procedures, scratch score (if used) and percentages should be determined before competition starts.

Always keep in mind that procedures, scratch scores and percentages can be changed with the agreement of the majority of the group.

Most other variations that might come into discussion during the organizational and subsequent meetings are covered in the published regulations of the three parent organizations. Consult all of the manuals provided before adopting procedures. Any point not covered should be referred to the appropriate organization prior to adoption by the league.


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