Special Olympics Bowling Sport info

Link Info :http://sports.specialolympics.org

Ten-pin bowling (commonly just “bowling” in the United States) is a competitivesport in which a player (the “bowler”) rolls a bowling ball down a wooden or synthetic (polyurethane) lane with the objective of scoring points by knocking down as manypins as possible.

Special Olympics Bowling is “rolling in” popularity because of its leisurely nature and competitive spirit. Although there are some modifications made for athletes with physical disabilities, most athletes compete using the same rules as athletes on a professional tour.

Bowlers are grouped in divisions according to the athletes’ ability level. Special Olympics athletes can choose from a variety of events, including singles, doubles or team. Physically disabled athletes can participate in ramp bowling.


The 41.5-inch (105 cm) wide, 60-foot (18 m) lane is bordered along its length by semicylindrical channels (commonly called “gutters”) which are designed to collect errant balls. The narrow lane prevents bowling a straight line at the angle required to consistently carry (knock down) all ten pins for a strike. Most skillful bowlers will roll a more difficult-to-control hook ball to overcome this. There is a foul line at the end of the lane nearest to the bowler: if any part of a bowler’s body touches the lane side of this line after the ball is delivered, it is called a foul and any pins knocked over by that delivery are scored as zero (0). (The bowler is allowed a shot at a new rack of ten pins if he fouled on the first roll of a frame.) Behind the foul line is an “approach” approximately 15 feet (5 m) long used to gain speed and leverage on the ball before delivering it. 60 feet (18 m) from the foul line, where the lane terminates, it is joined to a roughly 36-inch (91 cm) deep by 41.5-inch (105 cm) wide surface of durable and impact-resistant material called the “pin deck”, where each rack of pins is set.


The bowler is allowed ten frames in which to knock down pins, with frames one (1) through nine (9) being composed of up to two rolls. The tenth frame may be composed of up to three rolls: the bonus roll(s) following a strike or spare in the tenth (sometimes referred to as the eleventh and twelfth frames) are fill ball(s) used only to calculate the score of the mark rolled in the tenth.

Bowling has a unique scoring system which keeps track not only of the current score but also strikes and spares, which give multiple marks. Effectively, there are three kinds of marks given in a score; a strike (all ten down in the first ball), a spare (all ten down by the second ball), and an open (missed pins still standing when the turn ends). A strike earns you ten points plus the points for the next two balls thrown (for example, if a player got a strike then followed with a 7 then 2, their value for the strike would be 10+7+2, or 19). A spare earns you ten points plus the points for the next ball thrown (again, if a player gets a spare then follow it with 7 pins down, their value for the spare would be 10+7, or 17). Open frames are added normally (example: if a player knocks down 5 on their first ball and 3 on their second the open frame would be worth 5+3, or 8 points). The maximum score in tenpin bowling is 300. This consists of getting 12 strikes in a row in one game (one strike each in frames 1–9, and all three possible strikes in the tenth frame), and is also known as a perfect game.

Teaching the Rules of Bowling

The best time to teach the rules of bowling is during practice. Please refer to theOfficial Special Olympics Bowling Rules for a complete listing.
Athlete Readiness

Shows an understanding of the game.
Understands that game consist of 10 frames.
Knows which lane to bowl on when alternate lanes are being used.
Knows not to cross the foul line when bowling.
Knows that pins knocked down when a foul is committed do not count.
Knows to bowl only one ball in a frame when a strike is scored. 

Knows to bowl no more than two balls per frame, unless in the 10th frame where three ball may be permitted.

Knows to bowl, only when pins are standing.
Adheres to the rules of the bowling area.
Follows official Special Olympics and international bowling federation rules.

  1. Explain to athletes that contesting teams or individuals in league or tournament play successively alternate two lanes every frame until each has bowled five (5) times on each lane and the game is completed. Bowling requires that bowlers alternate lanes.
  2. Explain to athletes that every sport has its boundary lines, and the foul line and gutters are the boundary lines of bowling.
  3. Explain that when a part of the athlete’s body steps on or goes beyond the foul line, a foul is committed and if any pins were knocked down they do not count. Demonstrate how the foul light and bell will work when crossing the foul line.
  4. Explain to athletes that the only exception to bowling two balls per frame is the 10th frame, when three balls may be bowled if a strike or spare is recorded.
  5. Make copies of the bowling area’s rules and hand them out to athletes before going to bowl.
  6. Read the rules to non-readers and/or show pictures of “do’s” and “do not’s.”
  7. Carefully explain the consequences of not adhering to the rules. Emphasize the fact that the whole group may have to leave because of one person’s actions.

Key Words
  • No food or drink in the bowling area
  • Remember to alternate lanes
  • Do not cross the foul line
Coaching Tips
  • Rules of the bowling area are the rules you make for your program. These would include such things as the following.
    • Bowlers will remain in the pit area ready to bowl.
    • No food or drink in the bowling area.
    • Who can press the reset button.

Special Olympics Unified Sports® Rules

There are few differences in the rules for Unified Sports competition and the rules as stipulated in the official Special Olympics Sports Rules and modifications outlined in the rules book. The additions are highlighted below.

  1. A roster consists of a proportionate numbers of athletes and partners. Although the exact distribution of roster spots is not specified, a basketball roster containing eight athletes and two partners does not meet the goals of a Special Olympics Unified Sports program.
  2. A line up during the competition consists of half athletes and half partners. Teams that have an odd number of players (e.g. 11-A-Side Football) have one more athlete than partner in the game at all times.
  3. Bowling teams are divisioned for competition based primarily on ability. In team sports, division assignment is based on the best players on the roster, not the average ability of all players.
  4. Team sports must have an adult, non-playing coach. Player-coaches are not allowed in team sports.

Protest Procedures

Protest procedures are governed by the rules of competition. The role of the competition management team is to enforce the rules. As coach, your duty to your athletes and team is to protest any action or events while your athlete is competing that you think violated Official Bowling Rules. It is extremely important that you do not make protests because you and your athlete did not get your desired outcome of an event. Making protest are serious matters that impact a competition’s schedule. Check with the competition team prior to competition to learn the protest procedures for that competition.

Bowling Protocol & Etiquette

The rules of bowling etiquette are simple and can be easily understood. The most important points of bowling etiquette are who bowls first and be ready to bowl.
Who Bowls First
When there are two people in the lanes on either side of your bowler, the general rule is the first bowler up bowls first. If there are any questions as to who bowls first, the bowler to the right bowls first.
Be Ready to Bowl
Once a bowler is lined up in his/her stance and ready to bowl — he/she needs to bowl. Bowlers cannot knock down the pins by staring at them. They have to throw the ball down the lane at them. It is easy for bowlers to get into their stance and take too much time in getting their feet, hands, knees and body in the exact position. Teach your bowlers not to rush into their stance, approach and delivery. However, it is important to teach them to get into their stance and deliver the ball as efficiently as possible. This will keep the game moving and not annoy other bowlers and teammates.
Be Considerate
Keep it simple. Teach your bowlers to always be considerate toward their teammates and other bowlers in the lanes on either side and of them and in the bowling area. Once your athletes understand this concept, they will learn to respect their teammates, other bowlers and adapt an attitude of good sportsmanship that will remain with them throughout their bowling days.
Athlete Readiness
  • While participating in bowling, the athlete will exhibit sportsmanship and etiquette at all times.
  • Demonstrates competitive effort while bowling at all times.
  • Takes turns with other team members.
  • Selects and uses the same ball throughout the game.
  • Waits for bowlers on adjacent lanes (one lane right or left of athlete) to finish before bowling.
  • Bowls cooperatively and competitively; cheers fellow teammates.
  • Maintains knowledge of own score.
  • Helps teammates with their scores.
  • Athlete puts forth maximum effort during games.
  • Consistently obeys the rules of the game.
  • Exhibits appropriate manners while bowling at all times.
  • Ready to bowl when it is his/her turn.
  • Avoids wasting time, standing on the lane.
  • Allows bowler on the right to bowl first, if both bowlers are ready to bowl at the same time.
  • Stays in approach area and steps back off the approach area after making the delivery.
  • Stays seated until his/her turn to bowl.
  • Insures that no bowlers are on the lane on each side before stepping onto approach.
  • Uses another player’s bowling ball, towel or resin only with permission.
  • Controls temper at all times.
  • Waits until the pin-setting machine has completed its cycle before rolling the ball.
  • Calls for assistance if ball does not return or pin lies on deck.
  • Always keeps refreshments out of the pit area.
  • Observes common courtesy toward other bowlers at all times.
Coaching Tips
  • Sit bowlers in pit area in proper sequence to make it easier for them and coach to know who is up next.
  • If automatic scoring is available bowlers should be taught to watch the overhead screen for indication it is their time to bowl; i.e., name appears or is highlighted.
  • Discuss bowling etiquette, such as congratulating opponent after each game, win or lose; controlling temper and behavior at all times; waiting for one’s turn; and always using your own ball.


Good sportsmanship is both the coach’s and athlete’s commitment to fair play, ethical behavior and integrity. In perception and practice, sportsmanship is defined as those qualities which are characterized by generosity and genuine concern for others. Below we highlight a few focus points and ideas on how to teach and coach sportsmanship to your athletes. Lead by example.
Competitive Effort
  • Put forth maximum effort during each event.
  • Practice the skills with the same intensity as you would perform them in competition.
  • Always finish a race or event — never quit.
Fair Play at All Times
  • Always comply with the rules.
  • Demonstrate sportsmanship and fair play at all times.
  • Respect the decision of the officials at all times.
Expectations of Coaches
  1. Always set a good example for participants and fans to follow.
  2. Instruct participants in proper sportsmanship responsibilities and demand that they make sportsmanship and ethics the top priorities.
  3. Respect judgment of contest officials, abide by rules of the event and display no behavior that could incite fans.
  4. Treat opposing coaches, directors, participants and fans with respect.
  5. Shake hands with officials and the opposing coach in public.
  6. Develop and enforce penalties for participants who do not abide by sportsmanship standards.
Expectations of Athletes & Partners in Special Olympics Unified Sports®
  1. Treat teammates with respect.
  2. Encourage teammates when they make a mistake.
  3. Treat opponents with respect: shake hands prior to and after contests.
  4. Respect judgment of contest officials, abide by rules of the contest and display no behavior that could incite fans.
  5. Cooperate with officials, coaches or directors and fellow participants to conduct a fair contest.
  6. Do not retaliate (verbally or physically) if the other team demonstrates poor behavior.
  7. Accept seriously the responsibility and privilege of representing Special Olympics.
  8. Define winning as doing your personal best.
  9. Live up to the high standard of sportsmanship established by your coach.
Coaching Tips
  • Discuss bowling etiquette, such as congratulating opponent after all events, win or lose; controlling temper and behavior at all times.
  • Give sportsmanship awards or recognition after each meet or practice.
  • Always commend athletes when they demonstrate sportsmanship.
  • Sportsmanship is an attitude that is shown in how you and your athletes act on and off the field of play.
  • Be positive about competing.
  • Respect your opponents and yourself.
  • Always stay under control even if you are feeling mad or angry.

Bowling Glossary

Term Definition
Alley, or Bowling Lane Playing surface on which the ball is rolled and where the pins are located. Also known as a lane. In its plural form, can mean a bowling center.
Anchor Last bowler in a team’s lineup.
Approach Area behind the foul line on which the bowler takes his/her steps prior to delivering the ball. Known, too, as the runway. Also, the entire delivery process, from push away to release.
Back End The two-part, rearmost part of a lane — the hook area and the pin deck.
Back swing Path of the arm behind the body during the next to last step in the delivery.
Backup A ball that curves left to right for a right-hander and right to left for a left-hander.
Ball Rack Equipment used to store house balls.
Ball Return Usually an under-the-lane track on which the ball is returned to the bowler from the pit. Also, where the ball rests before and after all shots.
Blind Score given to a team when a member is absent. Although based on the missing player’s past performances, the score given is usually lower than the average for that bowler, thus penalizing him for the absence.
Boards Strips of wood that make up a lane.
Bowling Area The area behind the lane where bowlers wait to bowl. This is sometimes referred to as the settee area.
Bowling Center A bowling establishment.
Bridge Distance between finger holes on the ball.
Concourse Area behind the lane where spectators sit.
Control Desk The bowling center area where you make the arrangements and receive the equipment needed to bowl.
Convert When you successfully make your spare.
Count Number of pins knocked down on the first ball.
Curve A ball that is rolled toward the outside of the lane and then curves back toward the center of the lane.
Delivery Rolling of the ball.
Double Two consecutive strikes.
Error Failure to convert a spare. Also called a blow, miss or open.
Fill Number of pins knocked down by the first ball after a spare. So called because those pins finish the scoring for the previous frame.
Foul Touching or going beyond the foul line when delivering the ball.
Foul Line A black line on the alley which separates the approach from the lane.
Frame One-tenth of a game. Each large box on a score sheet indicates a frame. A player’s turn during a game. A game consists of 10 frames.
Gutter Ball A ball rolled in the gutter.
Gutter or Channel Drop off area on each side of the lane. Also called the channel.
Handicap Pins added to a bowler’s score to equalize competition. The lower a bowler’s average, the higher the handicap so that he/she will have a better opportunity to defeat a bowler with a higher average.
Headpin The number one pin.
Hook A ball that breaks sharply to the left for a right-hander, to the right for a left-hander.
House Ball A ball that is owned by the bowling center and can be used by anyone.
Lane Name usually associated with the 60-foot wooden surface extending from the foul line to the end of the pin deck.
Lead Off First bowler in a team’s lineup.
Leave Pins that remain standing after the first ball delivery.
Lift Upward motion applied to the ball by the fingers at the point of release.
Line A game of 10 frames — one full game. Also refers to the path a ball travels.
Lofting Tossing the ball far out beyond the foul line. Normally caused by a late release.
Mark A strike or a spare.
Miss When no pins are knocked down on a single shot.
Open A frame without a strike or a spare, pins are left standing after two shots.
Perfect Game A 300 score. Strikes in all 10 frames. Twelve consecutive strikes.
Pin Object which the bowler is trying to knock down.
Pin Bowler A bowler who aims visually at the pin when delivering the ball.
Pin Deck Area where the pins are placed.
Pit Area below the far end of the lane into which the pins fall.
Pocket Between the 1 and 2 pins for left-handers; between the 1 and 3 pins for right-handers. The ideal place for the ball to hit the pins in an effort to obtain a strike.
Push away Moving the ball into motion, out and down during the first step of the delivery.
Return Track or rails on which the ball rolls back to a player.
Sanctioned Any bowling competition conducted in accordance with the rules set down by your national or international bowling federation.
Scratch A bowler’s actual score. Non-handicap bowling.
Series Usually three games or more in a league or tournament.
Settee Area Also referred to as bowling area.
Soft Pocket Hit The action a ball makes as it enters the pin triangle when its rotation has reduced because the ball is too slow.
Span The distance between the thumbhole and the finger holes on a ball.
Spare Knocking down all 10 pins with two shots within the same frame. Indicated on the score sheet with an ( / ).
Split A spare leave in which the headpin is down and the remaining pins have another pin down immediately ahead of or between them so that the gap is greater than the width of the ball.
Spot Target on the lane at which a bowler aims.
Spot Bowler A bowler who uses the finders or spots as their primary target. Opposite of pin bowler.
Steps Number of steps bowler takes when delivering the ball.
Strike Knocking down all 10 pins with the first shot of a frame. Indicated on the score sheet with an (X).
Target Arrows A series of seven triangular darts (spots) placed in front of the foul line out on the lane. Used as sighting targets to help a player align the starting position on the approach with the ball path to the pocket.
Turkey Three consecutive strikes.

Bowling Clip Art


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