Seniors may find that bowling isn’t as easy now as it was when they were younger. Factors like reduced muscle mass and flexibility affect essential aspects of a bowling game, like ball speed and your ability to roll a straight ball.
If your forward swing isn’t what it used to be, or you can no longer use the same ball weight, there’s no need to give up on bowling. By finding a good starting point and the right ball for you, you’d be surprised how well you can bowl.
Is Bowling Safe for Seniors?
The short answer is yes, but as you age, the risk of injury does tend to increase. If you are planning on bowling and have pre-existing conditions, ask your doctor if he/she recommends bowling before partaking.
But, ultimately, bowling is enjoyed by plenty of seniors all over the world. Bowling is a favorite mainly because it is a low-contact and low-intensity sport that is much cheaper than golf.
All you need is a bowling ball, a bag, and bowling shoes, and you’re ready to go.
Bowling is also an excellent exercise source for senior bowlers. An hour at the bowling alley can burn 250 to 300 calories, increase endurance, maintain bone density, and speed up metabolism.
Also, most people find bowling a more fun and relaxing alternative than going to the gym.
Finally, bowling can be a very social sport. The whole family can play, even children as young as four.
Many seniors also prefer league play because it’s a great way to meet other people and many bowling alleys have bowling leagues especially for senior players.
Bowling Tips for Seniors
Whether you’re thinking of joining a senior league or are just curious to know whether you can knock down all the pins, you can benefit from understanding the best way to bowl in your older years.
Finding a Good Bowling Ball
When looking for the best bowling ball for you, weight is an essential factor for a senior bowler. You may notice that you have difficulty picking up and maneuvering a standard 15-pound ball.
As a rule of thumb, a bowling ball should be about 10% of your body weight, but comfort is more important than adhering to any standard. For example, if you find your arms hurt a lot after bowling, try a ball that’s one to three pounds below your calculated maximum.
Many seniors, as well as skilled bowlers, prefer buying their own ball. For older people, a custom ball can help you make sure you get a ball that’s the right weight for you and that the finger holes are comfortable.
Since many seniors no longer have the same grip strength as younger adults, they may not perform well with the conventional grip. If this happens, you can have an extra hole drilled so that more than the middle and ring finger go inside the ball.
Balls with a symmetrical core are suitable for seniors because they roll smoother and aren’t affected by the counterweight in asymmetrical bowling balls. A bowling ball with a symmetrical core is also great for beginners because they don’t hook as much.
The lost hook potential decreases the chance that your bowling balls will fall in the gutter.
As with any sport, muscle tension is an issue, but seniors are more at-risk of injured muscles since age results in reduced flexibility.
If you bowl regularly, you should consider doing dynamic stretching every day for 20 minutes. But, even if you don’t bowl often, a few stretches before bowling can significantly increase your score and make you feel more comfortable.
Try stretches that focus on the body parts used for bowling, such as the arms, legs, wrists, and neck. Some good stretches you can do to get ready to bowl are
- Wrist flexion and wrist extension – These are when you pull your fingers either down towards your wrist or back towards your body.
- Overhead shoulder stretch – This stretch occurs when you reach your arm over your head and place your palm on your upper back or neck, whichever you can reach.
- Arm circles – Rotate your arms in wide circles to do this stretch.
- Neck stretch – Neck stretches are when you stretch your head either backward and forward or side to side.
- Forward lunges – A forward lunge is when you step one foot out in front of yourself with your back leg’s knee on the ground and your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Leg pendulums – To perform this stretch, lay on the floor with your legs straight up in the air and rock them from side to side to work on upper-body muscles and the key muscles in your legs.
Senior citizens may need to make some changes to their bowling posture to prevent injuries and ensure better throws.
First of all, you should start your stance by holding the ball at shoulder height instead of waist level to prevent unnecessary strain on the back. You should also keep the ball close to your body for better control, especially if your arms aren’t strong.
When you go up to throw the bowling ball, you should take longer strides and quicker steps. This method works well to make up for the lost ball speed that seniors typically lose as they age.
There’s no need to run, but moving like this will give the ball better momentum and, thus, more power so you can knock down more pins.
Furthermore, it would be best to use a loose back-swing motion when preparing to roll the ball. Relax your body, so you don’t have tense or controlled muscles on your arm swing.
Keeping your arm muscles loose will give you a more fluid swing momentum that will help the ball glide along the lane without losing speed.
Finally, when you release the ball, you should be slightly bent at the waist and follow through so that the ball gains as much power as possible without you having to strain your muscles. For a good follow-through, your swing arc should continue after release so that your bowling hand becomes level with your shoulder.
Good follow-through will also help you to roll the ball in a straight line.
Keeping Yourself Safe
When playing sports at any age, you need to keep yourself safe. From when the game begins to the last frame, do not forget about safety.
First off, your doctor should be informed if you are planning on bowling, especially if you want to join a committed league or if you have a pre-existing condition. A doctor will know what types of exercise you should avoid and can give you tips on preventing injury.
When bowling, you should also consider using a wrist-support device or other types of supports to protect your joints. A wrist wrap or support will also help you hold onto the ball better since it increases wrist strength.
Seniors will find it wise to pay special attention to the foul line as well. The bowling lane is slippery, and accidentally crossing it will not only give you zero points for the throw but is a dangerous falling hazard.
To find the best place for your starting position, stand at the line and take four or five steps forward, depending on how far you usually go when you bowl.
Overall, to keep yourself safe when playing a sport, or in any other type of exercise program, use common sense and pay attention to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, make adjustments or stop that specific activity.
Other Helpful Tips for Senior Bowlers
- Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from staff. For example, you may need help operating new bowling equipment that you aren’t familiar with.
- People in their golden years may have less flexible joints, more difficulty releasing the ball or releasing it too early, or throw with reduced ball speed. Take this into account when playing, and don’t overdo it.
Refrain from using the heaviest ball and do your best to prevent straining muscles.
- If you are looking to purchase your own bowling ball, think about choosing one with a high-gloss polish for the ultimate slide. Also, balls that are for beginners will give you more control and can even help you get more power in your shots.
- When shooting the ball, try to get it to land 12 to 24 inches beyond the foul line. Having the ball go at least a foot in front of you will help to make sure you’ve given it enough power.
- Don’t worry about doing everything exactly the same as the professional bowlers do. Everyone is different, and what works for them may not work for you.
- Have fun. People of any age or skill level can enjoy a game of bowling.
Bowling can be a fun and competitive sport for seniors, but safety should always come first before and during a game.
You should always remember to speak with your doctor before playing, start a game with relaxed muscles, forgo the heavier ball, and focus on your posture when bowling. By following these simple rules, seniors can exercise, partake in warm social camaraderie, and, most of all, have fun without worrying about injuring themselves during a game.