Pin Calling Information


Thank you for agreeing to do pin spotting for our blind bowlers. We provide some general guidelines that may help. Introduce yourself and ask each person their name. Some may be wearing name badges. Call each person by name so they know you are not addressing someone else, unless you are only helping one person.

In any bowling league or tournament with bowlers who are blind or visually impaired, effective pin calling is essential. The pin caller should be alert to the needs of these bowlers. Many blind bowlers have no useful vision to aid them in the delivery of the ball. The visual acuity varies considerably among the rest of the visually impaired group. Some bowlers can only distinguish a faint contrast between bowling lane surface and the gutters, while others are able to see the pins as a white mass. Some may only ask to be told about the pins directly behind another pin (such as the 3 & 9. Just ask each bowler what information is needed and they will let you know.

The Bowling Center:
Most bowling centers have automatic scoring, pin calling and monitoring the scores then becomes the main responsibility. It is important to make sure all pin counts are recorded accurately on the system. Any errors should be corrected right away; assistance is usually available at the control desk.

Bowlers like to have a general idea of the layout of the lanes. Some may explore the area themselves while others may ask for an explanation. Some things they want to know are:

  1. Are there steps from the concourse down to the lanes. Also, is there is step up to the lanes or is it a flat surface?
  2. Layout of the ball return. Is it round, long or in some other shape?
  3. The seating area for bowlers to rest. Each bowling center has a slightly different arrangement. Briefly explain how the seating area is set up, in a straight line, semi-circle, etc.
  4. If there is a left-handed blind bowler, a second rail needs to be set up on the right side of both lanes. This information is requested on tournament entry forms. Check with the control desk if that rail was not set up. Most blind bowlers are right-handed and use the rail on the left side of the lanes.
  5. Assistance or coaching is not permitted on the approach itself. It is fine to give advice from the seating area or help a bowler find his or her ball on the rack. Some need assistance while others do not. This can speed things up as there may be a time limit.
  6. Bowlers will alternate lanes and foul lights are observed. If a bowler fouls a buzzer usually sounds and it counts as a zero for the first ball and the pins must be reset to a full rack. The bowler only throws one more ball. If all pins are knocked down on the second ball, it only counts as a spare not a strike.

  7. Lanes and Safety:
  8. Some bowlers have little or no vision, watch to make sure the gate that resets pins has gone up. If the gate is down and the bowler throws the ball, this could damage the ball when it hits the gate. When this happens immediately alert the bowler to wait until the gate has gone back up. Sometimes the gate gets stuck, especially if a pin was slightly moved but not knocked down. Or the remaining pins may not be reset properly. In these cases, call the control desk to fix the problem. Let the bowler know when to bowl.
  9. For safety reasons, it is important to keep liquids away from the bowling and approach areas. When bowlers use the restroom it's a good idea to wipe the shoes when returning. Wet shoes may slick and cause a bowler to fall and possibly get injured. Also, tracked in water is a hazard for other bowlers. If a drink spills, get assistance right away to clean it up and alert other bowlers to stay away from that area.
  10. Occasionally a ball may get stuck and not be returned. The control desk should be contacted to fix the problem and return the ball.
  11. Bowlers should remain in the immediate bowling area, but occasionally it may be necessary to call someone. They may be visiting with someone or at the bar. A stronger reminder may be needed if this recurs continually since it disrupts the bowling for others.
The Pin Calling:
  1. A strike or spare should be indicated immediately so as not to keep the bowler in suspense. Cheering will also be a clue for them!
  2. Pins left standing after the first ball is thrown should be called to the bowler in pin number order with the lowest number first. (Most bowlers know the pin numbers so this gains a perception of how the second ball should be delivered.)
  3. If a bowler knocks down four or less pins with the first ball, it may be simpler to indicate pins down rather than pins left standing. For example, if the bowler knocks down the 4-7-8 with the first ball, indicate by saying "three off the left."
  4. If the bowler throws a gutter ball, simply indicate so by saying "left gutter" or "right gutter."
  5. Many bowlers, after missing a spare, may want to know how they missed it. Indicate by saying "missed to the left or right." If a bowler left the 3-5-6 and made only the 3 pin, call out "missed 5-6" or you only got the 3 pin. This information helps to make corrections the next time.
  6. To make it easier for you, a chart with the pin numbers has been provided. The bowling pins are numbered as follows:
    • 7- 8 - 9 - 10
    • 4 -5 - 6
    • 2 - 3
    • 1

The Score Sheet:

Some bowlers want to know their score every frame. Others are satisfied with asking occasionally. Let bowlers know the final score for each game and write them down on the score sheet. Usually the score sheets are turned in at the control desk at the end of each squad or in league bowling to the secretary. In tournaments bowlers may ask for a copy of the scores to keep in case there are errors when the prize list is figured.


The bowlers want to bowl well if they can, but they are here to have fun too. You can add to their enjoyment. So relax and enjoy yourself! Fully sighted bowlers are welcome to compete in most leagues. Bowling is a good sport to share some competition and a good time. Thanks again for your assistance!