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Tenpin Bowling Overview

About Tenpin Bowling

Tenpin bowling is a popular sport for people with visual impairments and is played in more than 20 countries around the world.

Regular world and regional Championships are held featuring men’s, women’s and team events. Results from past editions can be viewed here.

Players can bowl in any bowling alley but most totally blind bowlers need sighted guidance or use a guide rail to help with their deliveries.

When sighted guidance is being used, blind bowlers are helped to align on the approach by sighted assistants. The bowlers would normally be aligned on a spot from which they wish to execute their deliveries. Such a reference point may be a certain board on the approach.

A sighted assistant is usually needed to tell a bowler which pins have been knocked down or how the remaining pins were missed. These assistants identify the pins either knocked down or left standing by calling the numbered locations of the pins. This information tells the bowler where to roll the next ball or how to modify the delivery of the ball the next time to bowl.

The guide rails used are made of either wood or light-weight tubular medal and can be assembled, disassembled and stored away very easily. They are held in place on the bowling approach by the weight of bowling balls and can be used in any bowling centre without damaging the lanes or interfering in any way with the operation of the automatic bowling equipment.

The rails are placed alongside the bowling approach and they extend back from the foul line. A bowler who needs the assistance of a guide rail usually slides one hand along its smooth surface while delivering the ball with the other hand. The starting position of the bowler in relation to the guide rail should be carefully noted.

The bowler can determine whether the ball is being released in the centre of the lane or near one edge. The rail is positioned to run straight along the first board outside the width of the lane. Of course, bowlers are free to use the bowling technique that they prefer.


Although tenpin bowling has been practiced by players with visual impairments around the world for more than fifty years, there was no single set of rules to govern the sport.

The first step towards this direction was a rule conference organised by the Finish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI) in Helsinki, Finland, in 1998.

Subsequently, two other equally important rule conferences were organised by the Independent Society of the Blind (Singapore) and British Blind Sport, in Singapore in 1999 and in Birmingham, Great Britain, in November 1999, respectively.

While these efforts to devise a standardised set of rules were taking place, IBSA was exploring the possibility of taking tenpin bowling under its banner.

The IBSA Executive Committee voted for this in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, in 2000.The first gathering for IBSA Tenpin Bowling took place later that year in Singapore.

There were more than forty participants from eleven countries representing the continents of Asia, Americas, Oceania and Europe.. At the meeting, nominees were put forward to form the technical sub-committee for the sport, and broad goals were outlined for the sub-committee to raise the profile of tenpin bowling.

The first IBSA Tenpin Bowling World Championships were held in Orlando, USA, in 2004. The hosts finished on top of the medals table with four golds.

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