Can Disabled People Play Bowling?

can disabled people play bowling

Bowling is a great sport to play for disabled people. The sport can be adapted to be suited for a wide range of different abilities, allowing everyone to enjoy the game.

Bowling is a game that is enjoyed by both able-bodied people and disabled people alike. This is because the game is easily adaptable to accommodate any difficulties that may occur when played in the regular manner. Instead, helpers and aids can be used.

Here we will tell you everything that you need to know about bowling as a disabled person from how the game can be changed to how easy it is for people to play.

What Is Adaptive Bowling?

Adaptive bowling is simply a modified version of bowling that allows disabled people to play a game of bowling. There are many different ways that the game can be adapted and these will depend on the exact needs and abilities of the person playing.

In adaptive bowling, there is a wide range of different equipment and aids that can make the game more suitable for those with disabilities. Some of the equipment includes:

  • Ball ramps
  • A rubber bowling ball
  • Ball pushers
  • People to act as an aid

There is no need to use all of this equipment and instead, you can pick and choose which pieces work best for you or your loved one. 

The great thing about adaptive bowling is that there is no need to go to a specialist bowling alley, instead, adaptive bowling can be played on a normal lane as the equipment can be kept on site. The scoring system is also exactly the same as regular bowling, making the rules even easier to remember.

Can Someone in a Wheelchair Go Bowling?

The beauty of bowling is that almost anyone can play! Even people in wheelchairs can comfortably and easily go bowling. Of course, there are some adjustments that will need to be made to accommodate their level of ability, but this is easily done.

For someone in a wheelchair, one of the most common ways to help them bowl is to have what is known as a “stick helper”. A stick helper is someone who helps the player to get into position at the foul line and to help place the ball on the ramp in the correct position. 

However, once the bowling ball has been placed on the ramp the stick helper is unable to adjust it. From this point on the player is in charge of everything that happens and the stick helper must move back from the point of play. 

If you or a loved one needs a stick helper then remember that they must wear regulation clothing during a tournament. This is to let the other players know exactly who is who.

There is one thing that you should remember when playing as a wheelchair user in a tournament: you are not allowed to use any wheelchair-steadying equipment. If you do indeed require any extra equipment then you can submit an application for this ahead of time. 

If you are simply playing for the fun of it then feel free to use any equipment that you desire so that you can enjoy the game!

How Do Disabled People Bowl?

There is no set way that disabled people bowl. How they bowl actually depends entirely on the severity of their disability, allowing them to use as many of the pieces of equipment, or as few, as they need.

So, given that there is no one way to bowl we will instead explain some of the equipment that may be used, how they are used, and how they help disabled people to bowl.

Ball Ramp

The ball ramp is a piece of equipment that is ideal for those who have difficulty holding and/or throwing the ball.

If you have any strains or sprains, low muscle tone, or general weakness in your wrist or arm then the ball ramp can help. It removes the need to strain your arm and wrist by holding and throwing the ball and instead allows you to play whilst alleviating this pressure. 

The bowling ball of choice is placed at the top of the metal ramp before it is pushed down the lane. The ball ramp is positioned as the player desires and as the ball rolls down the metal ramp it gains momentum, allowing it a force similar to if it were thrown. 

This allows the disabled person to actually “throw” the ball down the lane, giving them a chance to participate in the game.

Rubber Ball

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This is another adapted piece of equipment that aids people who are unable to lift a normal bowling ball. Often for people with disabilities, even the lightest standard bowling ball is too heavy. Of course, the weight of the bowling ball will have an effect on how the ball rolls down the lane, but it is better to play with a lighter ball than not at all!

This allows disabled people to still hold and throw the ball like an able-bodied player. It also removes the need to use a ball ramp if they would prefer not to. When using a rubber ball both feet and hands can be used.

To check the current price and availability of Rubber Bowling Balls, click here to view them on Amazon.

Ball Pushers

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A ball pusher is a form of metal arm that lets a disabled person push the bowling ball onto the lane without the need to stand up. This is ideal for wheelchair users.

To check the current price and availability of Bowling Ball Pushers, click here to view the listing on Amazon.

Is Bowling a Special Olympics Game?

Bowling is actually a game that is in the Special Olympics, but not in the regular Olympics. It is a fantastic sport for those with all levels of disability, both physical or intellectual, and can accommodate most people. 

Because there are so many ways that bowling can be adapted, the Special Olympics has very strict rules on the use of equipment and aids. This is to ensure that the game is as fair as possible for everyone competing. 

In the Special Olympics, bowling can be played as both an individual and a team sport. There are several different categories allowing for the use of equipment. 

Final Thoughts

Bowling is a very inclusive game, making a great choice of physical exercise for those who struggle with more common sports. The game can be changed to suit almost everyone who wants to play, regardless of their abilities. Even if you cannot stand, have weak muscle tone, or simply cannot hold the ball there are ways around this.

There are many different pieces of equipment that can be utilized to allow a disabled person to play a game of bowling. You can pick and choose a combination of different pieces of equipment, or use a person to aid you. The choice is up to the personal preference of the bowler. 

Bowling is such a great game for disabled people that it is offered in the Special Olympics, giving those who are unable to participate in many other sports the chance to compete in a physical sport. However, in order to keep the game fair (given the various adaptations made to the game for individual players), there are very strict rules on the use of equipment and helpers. 

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