Bumpers in bowling are raised barriers that are placed at the edges of the lanes to prevent the bowling ball from going into the gutter.
They are typically used for children or inexperienced bowlers to help them have more success and enjoyment while bowling.
Bumpers can also be used by experienced bowlers to help them try new techniques or shots that they might not otherwise be able to execute without the added assistance of the bumpers.
In some cases, bumpers can also be used to level the playing field for bowlers of different skill levels. Bumpers are typically made of rubber or plastic materials, placed along the edges of the bowling lane.
When Did Bumper Bowling Start?
Bumpers were first introduced to the world of bowling in 1982 by Phil Kinzer, the owner of Jupiter Lanes Bowling Center in Dallas, Texas.
Kinzer came up with the idea for bumpers after seeing his young son become upset and frustrated by throwing numerous gutter balls during a bowling game.
This made him realize that some people, particularly children, may have difficulty controlling the bowling ball with the same accuracy as more experienced bowlers.
In an effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for all ages, Phil Kinzer began by blocking the gutters of his bowling lanes with cardboard tubes to prevent the balls from rolling into them.
Over time, bumpers became more popular and the cardboard tubes were replaced with inflatable tubes. However, these eventually proved to be too difficult for most bowling alleys to maintain.
In response, Kinzer patented and developed a new type of bumper system that is now used in bowling alleys around the world. The modern bumper system consists of two long, retractable metal railings that are embedded in the gutters of a bowling lane.
These railings can be raised up from the gutter by a metal rod that hooks onto them, pulling them up and locking them in place. This prevents the bowling ball from falling into the gutter and allows bowlers of all skill levels to enjoy the game.
Some bowling alleys also offer automated bumpers that can be activated from the scoreboard console of each lane, making it easy to turn the bumpers on or off as needed.
What is the Benefit of Using Bumpers in Bowling?
There are several benefits to using bumpers in bowling, and some of them are listed below:
1. Improved accuracy: Bumpers can help to improve a bowler’s accuracy by preventing the ball from rolling into the gutter and going off course. This can be particularly useful for novice bowlers or for people who are still learning the basics of the game.
2. Increased enjoyment: Bumpers can make the game of bowling more enjoyable for people of all ages and skill levels.
By eliminating the risk of throwing gutter balls, bumpers can help to reduce frustration and make the game more relaxing and enjoyable.
3. Greater accessibility: Bumpers can help to make the game more accessible for people with special needs or disabilities.
By preventing the ball from rolling into the gutter, bumpers can help to level the playing field and allow everyone to participate in the game.
4. Increased participation: Bowling alleys that offer bumper bowling may be more likely to attract families and younger customers, which can help to increase participation in the sport.
This can be especially beneficial for bowling centers that are looking to attract a wider range of customers.
What are the Cons of Using Bumpers in Bowling?
Although bumpers are benefitial in bowling, it also comes with some disadvatages. Here are some potential cons of using bumpers in bowling:
Reduced challenge: Bumpers can make the game of bowling slightly easier and may not provide as much of a challenge for experienced bowlers. Some bowlers may prefer to play without bumpers in order to test their skills and improve their accuracy.
Reduced skill development: Using bumpers may reduce the opportunity for bowlers to develop their accuracy and aim. This is because the bumpers will always prevent the ball from going into the gutter even if the bowler’s aim is off.
Increased cost: Some bowling alleys may charge extra for bumper bowling, which can make the game more expensive for bowlers who want to use bumpers.
Limited availability: Not all bowling alleys offer bumper bowling, so bowlers may have to search for a bowling alley that provides this option.
Do Professional Bowlers Use Bumpers?
Professional bowlers typically do not use bumpers when competing in tournaments. While bumpers can be a useful tool for making the game more enjoyable for people of all ages and skill levels, they are typically not used in professional bowling tournaments.
Of course, professional bowlers are expected to have a high level of skill and accuracy. Hence, using bumpers would reduce the challenge and difficulty of the game.
As a result, professional bowlers typically do not use bumpers when competing at the highest level. However, it is worth noting that professional bowlers may use bumpers when practicing or when playing in a casual setting.
Some professional bowlers may also use bumpers when coaching or teaching others how to bowl, as they can help to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for beginners.
Ultimately, whether or not to use bumpers is a personal decision that depends on the individual’s skill level and preferences.
Bumpers are a useful tool for making the game of bowling more accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and skill levels.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced bowler looking for a more relaxed game, bumpers can help you enjoy the sport and improve your skills.
So next time you’re at the bowling alley, don’t be afraid to try out the bumpers and see how they work for you!