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Bowling: Safety Tips

Updated on September 14, 2009

Ten Pin bowling safety tips? One might even ask if such tips are necessary. Surely bowling, of all sports, could be considered one of the safest sports to play?

Complacency is most often the cause for potential accidents. Though ten pin bowling is a relatively "safe" sport compared to many other sports, there are still risks for injury due to carelessness. Here are some tips to adhere to when bowling which will help minimise the risk of injury:

1. Warm up

As with any sport, it is always important to warm up before beginning. At rest, our muscles are somewhat cool and stiff and are more prone to being strained. To avoid such injuries, it is important to warm up before bowling. Some of the most common injuries due to bowling involve the wrist, knees and back. If you have past injuries with these areas, it is even more important that you warm up sufficiently before bowling.

2. Bowling ball

Bowling balls are like weights. Just as we handle weights in a gym carefully, care must be taken to handle a bowling ball properly. Likewise, just as it is dangerous to lift weights that are beyond your ability, it is important not to use a ball that is too heavy for you. If you are an inexperienced bowler, it is even more important that you stick to the recommended bowling ball weights that are best suited for you. Not only does this protect you from injury but you will be able to bowl better.

Choose a bowling ball that has the right size finger holes to fit your fingers as a ball with holes that are too small for your fingers can get stuck during the release. This can injury your hands. If the holes are too large, it can also cause accidents if the ball slips from your hand before you are ready to release it. You could end up dropping it on your foot or swinging it into other players. Different bowling balls also have different spacing between the finger holes. Make sure you choose one that fits your hand best as the spacing will affect your ability to hold the ball properly.

When picking up the ball, always use both hands to avoid wrist injuries. You should also bend you knees as you pick up the ball just as you would if you were lifting any heavy object. This reduces the risk of back injuries, especially if your ball is particularly heavy.

3. Shoes

You should always wear appropriate bowling shoes for the entire duration of the game so you don’t damage the run up area. Always check the soles of your shoes for sticky objects before taking your turn so you don’t trip or fall while carrying the bowling ball. Also be careful as your shoes may be slippery on the bowling lane. Walk properly and don't goof around.

4. Clothes

Though bowling is pretty "free and easy" when it comes to a dress code, be mindful of certain things. Pants with dragging hemlines can cause accidents if you slip on them while on the run up, while shirts with loose sleeves are potential hazards that can get caught in the rotating belt of the bowling ball return chute.

5. Food

You should never eat or drink anything on the run up area as it can ruin the floor.  The floors have been polished and are very smooth - any spills can lead to an accident.

6. Watch where you are and what’s around you

Don’t loiter around on the run up area - the only time you should be on the run up area is when it is your turn.  Give the bowler plenty of space to take the shot and stay in the waiting area until it is your turn.

For bowlers, make sure you do not cross the foul line and step onto the bowling lane. You will not only be penalised for crossing the foul line but the bowling lanes have been oiled to make it easier for the ball to glide down to the bowling pins.  You could easily slip on the lanes if you step onto it. 

You should also make sure that you stay on your lane.  Don't cross over to other lanes where you can interfere with other bowlers.  Be aware of the other bowlers and give way to them if it was their turn first.  Before making your run up, check that there are no people around you that you could accidentally hit as you swing your ball.

7. The bowling ball return chute

The bowling ball return chute returns the bowling ball back to you after you take a shot.  Always wait for your ball to completely clear the chute before you pick it up.  Never put your hand into the chute, even if the ball is stuck.  Get help from the staff at the bowling alley if the ball is stuck as you can seriously injure yourself if your hand gets caught in the return chute.

Safety tips are often based on common sense.  Although we are aware of most of them, it is often easy to get careless and overlook them.  Ten pin bowling is a relatively safe sport with minimal reports of injuries.  However, it is still important to observe the safety rules to eliminate all possibilities of injuries arising.


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    • figur8 profile image

      figur8 7 years ago

      Good point. Funny, I remember thinking of that one when I was writing the article. Don't know how I missed it.

    • gbd profile image

      gbd 7 years ago

      Very wise advice to follow. Many people don't take bowling safety seriously, and end up getting hurt or sore muscles after a game.

      I would add another tip to #7, which is picking up the ball using two hands instead of lifting it by your fingers. That way you avoid getting hurt if another ball comes out of the chute and hits your ball. Another benefit of this is reducing stress on your fingers, wrists, and back!