Bumpers in Bowling: A Guide for Beginners

Bowling is a popular game that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you are a professional or a beginner, it is important to understand the basics of the game. 

One important aspect of bowling that is often overlooked by beginners is the use of bumpers

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to bumpers in bowling.

What are bumpers in bowling?

Bumpers, also known as gutter guards, are raised rails on the sides of a bowling lane that prevent the ball from rolling into the gutters. These rails are typically made of foam or plastic and can be raised or lowered depending on the player’s preference.

Why are bumpers used in bowling?

Bumpers are used in bowling to help beginners and children avoid gutter balls. When a ball is thrown too far to the left or right of the lane, it will typically roll into the gutters and score a zero. 

Bumpers prevent this from happening, allowing players to enjoy the game and improve their skills without getting frustrated.

How do bumpers work?

Bumpers work by creating a barrier that prevents the ball from rolling into the gutters. When a ball hits a bumper, it bounces back into the lane, keeping the ball in play. This allows players to focus on their technique and aim without worrying about gutter balls.

Bumpers in Bowling

Types of bumpers

There are two types of bumpers in bowling: automatic and manual. Automatic bumpers are controlled by a computer and will raise or lower depending on the player’s score or age. Manual bumpers are raised or lowered by hand before the game starts.

Pros and cons of using bumpers


  • Bumpers make the game more enjoyable for beginners and children.
  • Bumpers help players improve their skills without getting frustrated.
  • Bumpers can be adjusted to accommodate players of all skill levels.


  • Bumpers can create an unfair advantage for some players.
  • Bumpers can be distracting for more experienced players.
  • Bumpers can affect the speed and trajectory of the ball.

Who should use bumpers?

Bumpers are recommended for beginners, children, and individuals with physical disabilities that make it difficult to throw the ball accurately. More experienced players may also choose to use bumpers for fun or to improve their skills.

How to use bumpers effectively

To use bumpers effectively, players should adjust the height of the bumpers based on their skill level. Beginners and children may want to use higher bumpers to prevent gutter balls, while more experienced players may want to use lower bumpers to increase the difficulty of the game. It is also important to aim for the middle of the lane to avoid hitting the bumpers.

How to disable bumpers

To disable bumpers, players can ask the bowling alley staff to turn off the bumper system before the game starts. This will allow the ball to roll freely into the gutters.

Bumper bowling tips for beginners

  • Focus on your technique and aim: While bumpers can be a helpful tool, it’s important to focus on your technique and aim rather than relying solely on the bumpers. This will help you improve your skills and accuracy over time.
  • Start with higher bumpers: If you’re a beginner, start with higher bumper settings and gradually decrease the height as you improve. This will help you build confidence and get used to the feeling of hitting pins.
  • Aim for the middle of the lane: When aiming, try to aim for the middle of the lane rather than the pins or the bumpers. This will help you develop a consistent approach and increase your chances of hitting your target.
  • Keep your wrist straight: It’s important to keep your wrist straight when releasing the ball to ensure a smooth and accurate delivery.
  • Use the arrows: Look for the arrows on the lane and use them as a guide for your aim. This can help you develop a consistent approach and improve your accuracy over time.
  • Practice regularly: Like any sport, practice makes perfect. Try to practice regularly to improve your skills and technique. Set goals for yourself and track your progress over time.
  • Don’t get discouraged: Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not hitting strikes right away. Bumper bowling is a fun way to learn the game and improve your skills over time.

Frequently asked questions about bumpers in bowling

  1. Do all bowling alleys have bumpers?

Not all bowling alleys have bumpers, but most modern bowling alleys have bumper systems that can be adjusted based on the player’s preference.

  1. Can bumpers be adjusted during the game?

Automatic bumpers can be adjusted during the game based on the player’s score or age. Manual bumpers can only be adjusted before the game starts.

  1. Can bumpers affect the score?

Bumpers do not affect the score of the game. They only prevent the ball from rolling into the gutters.

  1. Are bumpers allowed in professional bowling?

Bumpers are not allowed in professional bowling. Professional bowlers must rely on their skills and technique to avoid gutter balls.

  1. Can adults use bumpers in bowling?

Adults can use bumpers in bowling if they are beginners, have physical disabilities, or want to use them for fun.


Bumpers in bowling can be a useful tool for beginners and children who want to enjoy the game and improve their skills without getting frustrated.

They can also be a fun way for more experienced players to challenge themselves and try new techniques. By understanding how bumpers work and how to use them effectively, players of all skill levels can enjoy the game of bowling.

If You are a bowling freak, you can also read what handicap bowling means!

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James Arnold
I'm James, and I call Stanislaus County, California, my home. My journey into the world of Bowling began 3 years ago. Although, I won't claim that I'm an expert,but I'm improving my skills every day. I hope my articles will help you to improve your game.