Looking to ease into some light exercise or want a new activity to bond with friends or colleagues? Bowling could be the sport for you.
Almost anyone you ask would admit that they enjoy a game or two of bowling from time to time, or at least have dabbled in the sport. Despite new sports and fitness fads that have emerged over the years, bowling still remains popular due to its competitive, yet socially friendly nature and simplicity.
For NUSS’ Bowling Convenor, Mr Chong Hoong Sang, he began bowling when he was introduced to the sport during his National Service days back in the 70s, when his platoon mates gathered at the now-shuttered Anson Bowl, a small 12-lane bowling centre located at International Plaza, for bowling sessions.
“I found the game easy to pick up but extremely difficult to master,” Mr Chong recalled. “I was immediately hooked and wanted to challenge myself to master bowling with the aim of beating my friends at a competitive level. I continued watching and practising techniques during my under-graduate days, and in my final year of university, I participated in organising activities for the NUS’ Bowling Club.”
Several decades later, his passion for bowling is still going strong. “At the NUSS Sub-Committee Appreciation Night back in 2015, several members asked me if I was going to retire as Bowling Convenor soon, as I had just retired from serving in the Civil Service after 37 long years,” he mused. “Without hesitation, I responded that I would never retire from serving at NUSS. Now, I have more time to serve in my favourite area, the Sports and Recreation Sub-Committee!”
One reason for bowling’s popularity is its affordability. As a game that costs less than a fancy drink at your neighbourhood café to play, it is a relatively inexpensive sport that is hard to beat in terms of “fun per dollar invested”. Bowling centres also provide the appropriate equipment required for the game, making it less of a hassle for the player, who don’t have to carrying equipment to and from a game, unlike some other sports. Mr Chong said: “Bowling centres will supply the necessary bowling shoes, balls and usage of bowling lanes. At events, these centres will also help in tabulating scores and catering food and beverages.”
Unlike other sports, the team sizes can vary, depending on the number of players. “Teams of four to six players are assigned the same pair of lanes is ideal for better interaction, support and bonding,” said Mr Chong, who added that individual, doubles and team events can be carried out concurrently on the same day, which makes bowling an ideal activity at office bonding events.
Another reason that bowling is a game of choice when it comes to fun nights out is that it is low-impact and easy-to-learn, making it suitable for all ages, from young children to seniors.
Picking up the sport can also help you keep fit. A bowling ball ranges from 6 to 16 pounds. As you swing and release the ball repeatedly, the movement and the ball’s load serves to tone your shoulder, arm, chest and leg muscles, while gripping the ball itself strengthens hand muscles. That’s not all — the twisting, lunging and stretching motion you make as you throw the ball helps to train your balance, flexibility and hand-eye coordination.
Bowling is also very much a social sport, as players gather to have fun with one another as much as they are there to compete. Interacting with fellow players helps to relieve stress, and we all know lower stress levels can help you build stronger immunity and prevent depression.
Newbie tips to keep in mind
As with other sports, players should exercise caution to prevent injury. Players commonly develop sore thumbs and fingers, twisted ankles and strained hand and leg muscles while playing the sport, so Mr Chong suggests doing a five-minute warm up just before the game. “It is also essential for bowlers, especially beginners, to wear well-fitted bowling shoes and use a ball that is not too light nor too heavy and which fits comfortably in your hand. This should weigh roughly about 10 per cent of your body weight.”
For those new to the game, Mr Chong shared some basic bowling etiquette one should keep in mind. “No bowler should be standing on the approach if it is not his turn to bowl. After making a throw, he should give way to the next bowler. If the bowler on the right is on the approach, let him execute the shot first before taking your turn,” he advised.
“Bowlers should always be mindful and give way to the bowler on the approach, so as to not distract him from executing his shot. After you have completed your shot, you should walk back to the bowlers’ area so others have a chance to take their turns.”
Whether you’re looking to ease into some light exercise or bond with friends or colleagues, bowling is should be a sport you should consider picking up. With its versatility, health benefits and low price point, the benefits far outweigh the frustrations of the occasional gutter ball.
NUSS Bowling Section organises medal competitions on Sunday mornings each month for section members and guests, while practise sessions are held every Friday evening at 8.30pm.
Interested parties may contact Mr Chong Hoong Sang at firstname.lastname@example.org. Beginners are welcome.
Visit nuss.org.sg to find out more about activities at NUSS that help keep you mentally and physically fit.