If you’re trying to find worthwhile activities for your younger kids for the summer and spring breaks, and also for weekends and holidays, bowling may just be the enjoyable event you’re looking for!
Bowling is fun and affordable! And just about any city or town has a bowling alley nearby. And it’s great exercise and a memorable bonding experience for the whole family.
WHEN CAN KIDS START BOWLING?
Your kids can bowl as early as 3 years old. But each child is different and you should observe their motor skills and their development into consideration before they take up bowling.
As a start, the kids should be able to lift a 6 pounder bowling ball which is probably the lightest. And their feet should be able to fit into the bowling shoe rentals which could be as small as Toddler size 4 or 5.
You may want to request a bumper-friendly bowling lane. This means that no matter what style your kids would throw the ball, it will never go into the gutter (because there’s none), and they would be motivated to bowl some more.
BOWLING CREATES FAMILY MOMENTS
If you’ve never thought about bowling as a worthy experience for your family, and especially for your smaller kids, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to hone the skills of your kids and at the same time, dish out unforgettable family fun which will be remembered by everyone in their senior years.
If it’s rainy or a relatively boring day, go bowling with your little ones. If your kids are capable of creating a mess in your home in the space of one afternoon, why not devote that limitless energy at the bowling lanes? Are you also thinking of a birthday party theme for one of your kids? Give them the gift of fun bowling for 3 hours!
As a parent, if you’re not the bowling type, it doesn’t matter. We’re talking about your kids here. If they need to blow off some steam into something productive and they need a sense of structure to keep them focused, take them bowling. If you love beer and nuts while they’re burning the lanes, then you’ve done your younger kids a favor.
The Young American Bowling Alliance, which sanctions bowling for enthusiasts in the age bracket of 3 to 23, recommends bowling (with bumpers) for children who are not younger than their 3rd birthday and not older than their 7th natal day. On average, kids younger than 3 have difficulty just even handling the ball while most youngsters more than 7 years old have enough strength to throw the ball too hard and cause damage to the bumpers.
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO START THEM YOUNG
If in case the children have fingers too small to fit compactly into the holes of a 6-pound ball, which is the lightest, there are some options that can still make them enjoy bowling.
Granny style of throwing the ball
With legs spread, the kids hold the ball with both hands while standing at the foul line. They then roll the ball, with a pendulum motion, towards the pins. The ball could also be placed on the floor, and then pushed at the same time, with both hands. For better results, equal pressure should be exerted by both hands on the ball.
Use a Bowling Ramp
Most bowling places have handicap ramps that double as bowling options for kids to enjoy the sport. The ramp is moved to the center of the approach area and adjusted until it lines up with the pins with the objective of knocking down the most pins as possible. Depending on how the adults analyze the pattern of the wooden floor, the ramp could be placed in front of the ball return or to the side of bowlers who don’t use the ramp.
Ball Placement for the Granny or the Ramp.
Guide the kids when they employ the Granny or the Ramp, by putting the ball in a position wherein it rolls between their fingers and thumb. Do this preferably, for the lighter balls.
Don’t pressure the little ones into bowling with the proper form.
It is difficult for younger children to be in the proper posture while beginning to bowl. Most of them will use the squat and push method (Granny) initially, but they will try to emulate you grownups as they feel more comfortable in handling the ball. It takes them a lot of practice to just walk up the lane, swing, then release the ball, without their legs getting all confused about the proper movements.
Encourage the kids to observe proper bowling ethics. Some kids, in their enthusiasm, don’t wait for their opponent to throw their ball the same number of times as they do. Advise them to wait their turn, so that everyone can enjoy the sport.
BOWLING PREPARES THE KIDS FOR REAL LIFE
Bowling is akin to life. Bowling is also about strategy and getting the kids’ math right. They should know by how many points they are leading or trailing in a game. In this way, they’ll know how to strategize through mental calculations and be able to come up with strikes or spares that can add up for them to win the game.
Whatever happens, everybody involved in bowling is a winner. Competitive spirits are flowing but in a healthy manner. Even though the kids are divided into teams, the real opponent is not the other kid on the other side but themselves. They should strive to beat their own highest score in every game. And the kids should be encouraged to cheer on other players. When a strike or a spare or that rare perfect game happens, it’s always a reason for a round of applause from everyone.
But for small kids who don’t even know what a strike is, the mere accomplishment of the ball reaching up to the end and then knocking down even just one pin, is already a victory in itself. When the kids shout happily and brag, I’m Awesome, believe it yourself, and enjoy the moment.
PRIORITIZE SAFETY OF THE KIDS
Be sure about the safety of the kids while inside the bowling center. The balls are heavy. The flooring is slippery. Sometimes, some balls roll the wrong direction into the crowd. Take heed while you’re with children and sad accidents like kids getting their hands or feet crushed by bowling balls will never happen.
Be knowledgeable about the age restrictions for using bumpers. Usually, the maximum limit for kids to be able to use bumpers is 10 years old. You don’t want your kids to develop bad bowling habits if you want their skills to improve. Using bumpers will definitely not hone their game.
BOWLING IS A VIABLE OPTION FOR KIDS’ FREE TIME
Bowling is a cheap and fun way for your toddlers and kiddos to have fun. On rainy days, on weekends and holidays when the zoo is so crowded and the weather is so hot, bring them to the local bowling center. On spring and summer breaks when there’s a lot of free time for the children, make bowling a part of their schedule. Bowling birthday parties are also fun to host and to get invited to.
There is also a Kids Bowl Free Summer Bowling Program wherein the youngsters get 2 free games per day if they will sign up. This project is all over the USA and Canada. Find one in your locality.
Put the bumpers up. This will avoid gutter balls all the time and keep up the motivation for the kids to keep on bowling. They will actually feel the excitement of being able to knock some pins down.
Using the ball ramp. Usually, most bowling places have ball ramps. If you can’t find one, ask the clerk or anyone in charge.
Help the kid put the ball on top, helpline it up to target the pins, and also help in pushing the ball from the ramp.
Teach them bowling ethics and discipline early. Don’t let them run after the ball. Show them the boundary where the slippery part of the floor starts and tell that that they shouldn’t step over that demarcation line.
If you want them to be serious about learning bowling, don’t give them the chance to go over to the arcade and video games which are also staples at bowling alleys. Or else, they’ll never learn to love bowling.
Find a ball that’s light enough for your kiddo. Mostly, the lightest ones are 6 pounders. That’s where all great bowlers start.
Bring extra money for bowling shoes rental. You can find shoes with Toddler size 4 or 5. While the kid is growing and still loves to bowl, it would still be practical to rent bowling shoes unless he or she would really love it to be their regular sport. By then, it would be much better to buy their own bowling shoes to lessen the cost to you for each bowling session. It’s also for hygiene reasons.
Bring your spouse or a reliable friend, if you can, to the bowling alley. There are a lot of characters around and sometimes you can’t keep an eye on your kids the whole time, especially if you have 2 or more kids who bowl together at the same time. The children shouldn’t roam around or they will be accidentally bumped by the heavy bowling balls or slide on the slippery wooden floor.
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO RESPECT SERIOUS BOWLERS
If you see a group of serious bowlers, and there’s a league or a competition going on, try to find a lane that’s a comfortable space away from these fellas. In this way, you won’t get those evil stares from these serious bowlers going your way and your kids.