Are you a bowling enthusiast with a little son or daughter? Are they still learning how to hold a bowling ball, let alone throw it?

To help young ones and beginners play the sport of bowling alongside more experienced bowlers, most bowling centers give you the option of bumper bowling. So instead of playing baseball or going to the park, grab your bowling equipment and head to the lanes. Bowling is for everyone, from Mom and Dad to the little ones.

Sometimes you just need a little help.

What are the things on the side of a bowling lane called?

Looking to take the gutter ball out of the game of bowling entirely? With the help of blockers known as bumpers on each side of the lane, bowling can be a fun activity for players both young and old.

How do bowling bumpers work?

Either placed by a command on the scoring console or with the help of employees at a bowling alley’s reception desk, bumpers allow more people to play the game without worrying about gutters. Directing the action towards the pins, bumpers are a family-friendly addition to any bowling lane.

Essentially, each gutter is covered by a bumper. The hope is that the ball will bounce off the bumper and towards the pin deck, allowing children and adults with special needs to knock down pins with wayward shots — even if it’s just a single pin or so.

How do you activate the bumpers on a bowling alley?

As stated before, bumper bowling is usually initiated by a command on a scoring console or with the help of a bowling alley operator. Oftentimes, alley operators want to know when bumpers are being used. And sometimes, they don’t want a group of adults using bumpers just for the craziness of bouncing bowling balls off of them.

In these cases, a bowler should let the front desk know that they’ll need bumpers — either for kids or a participant in need of special assistance. Alleys might have other pieces of bowling equipment that can help, including a ramp to roll the ball down towards the pins.

Are bumpers allowed in a bowling game?

In regular bowling tournaments and on league nights, bowling bumpers are not allowed — unless it’s a special novelty event. When you bowl with bumpers, it changes the game and makes throwing strikes and spares much easier. Thus, they are not usually allowed in serious competition. Also, hitting the bumpers excessively with high-speed shots could end up wearing them down quicker than normal. This could lead to increased overhead costs for a bowling alley.

If you are a participant in open bowling, either in regular or cosmic bowling form, bumper bowling is usually allowed. Just let the alley’s operator know if they’re required to place the bumpers. Most alleys prohibit bowlers from manually placing bumpers themselves.

When should you use bumpers on a bowling lane?

Bumper bowling is a great way to increase the age range and size of a bowling fan base. Whether you’re an adult with a physical or mental disability, or a child who has never thrown a bowling shot, bowling bumpers make a point of increasing the accessibility of the game. They also increase revenue for bowling alleys since they increase the number of players who can participate (and want to participate.)

If you’re bowling with friends who have kids or friends who have special needs, bumpers increase the quality of play for those who need them. They also draw folks into the world of bowling that would otherwise be left out, giving bowling enthusiasts more people to talk to about the game they love.

What are the drawbacks to bumper bowling?

Some bowlers argue that bumper bowling disincentivizes beginners and young players from learning how to properly play the game. If you rely on bumpers, they argue, you won’t be able to hit your marks and enjoy the game when the bumpers are not activated.

To these bowlers, it’s a matter of changing the game in a way that actually hurts new bowlers’ chances of getting better. To be truthful, throwing a strike with bumpers up is much different than doing it without. Without a bit of help from the bumpers, some bowlers might not be able to pick up spares or keep pace with other players.

However, bumper bowling is still a fun way for more bowlers to enjoy the game — regardless of the drawbacks and criticisms.

Do most bowling alleys have bumpers for those looking for bowling fun?

Yes! Nowadays, it’s great business for bowling alleys to have high-quality bumpers on their lanes. It’s good advertising for a bowling alley that’s trying to draw families into their buildings for increased revenue. Ask your local bowling alley operator about their bumper policy and enjoy! Within a few minutes, everyone will able to enjoy a game or three.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Jupiter Lanes Bowling Center so important to the history of bumper bowling?

In 1982, Dallas resident and Jupiter Lanes Bowling Center owner Philip Kinzer changed the game of bowling for good. Using cardboard tubes, Kinzer invented bumper bowling — a game tweak that has spread around the world over the past 40 years. Operators at Jupiter Lanes manually placed the bumpers every time a family needed them. And as time went on, Kinzer experimented with different types of bumpers including inflatable ones.

Nowadays, bowling centers usually have automated bowling bumper systems that are placed with the touch of a button. However, it wasKinzer’s simple approach to blocking off bowling lane gutters that started it all!

What age is appropriate for bumper bowling?

Bumper bowling is great for kids of all ages, or adults with special needs. While bumper bowling is often written off as being for children, it’s actually a really cool way to get beginners of all ages into the sport. Without the worry of gutter balls, players can focus on having fun while competing with bowlers who might be more experienced than them. And if a ball is too heavy for a kid, the bumpers will propel the ball back and forth down the lane — allowing the child to be part of things in an active way.

Will wayward bowling balls thrown against a bumper damage it?

Modern bumpers are reinforced to withstand the velocity of a adult bowling ball throw — especially since the children who often need the bumpers are usually playing with adults who may not need them. However, that doesn’t mean you should just hurl a ball as hard as you can into a bumper looking for crazy caroms down towards the pins. In fact, you might get a stern warning from a bowling alley operator if you misuse the bumpers on a given lane.

Just throw the ball as you normally would. If the ball hits the bumpers with force, it’s likely going to be okay. Don’t aim directly at the bumper with full force, but don’t worry if it hits one or two. That’s what they’re there for!

Closing Thoughts

Bumpers are an essential piece of bowling equipment that makes bowling centers better experiences for bowlers of all ages. Bumper bowling makes the game much more entertaining for those who aren’t able or ready to throw a bowling ball in the traditional fashion. And with more bowlers enjoying the game, that means more good times for everyone involved with the sport we love. Don’t let the gutter drag you down! A couple of bumpers is all it takes for higher scores and smiles all over the lanes.