It was on a hot Friday afternoon at the beginning of summer when we discovered the joys of our local bowling alley. And according to Ahmed Elkomy, president of Switch, the state-of-the-art bowling centre at Ibn Battuta Mall, we are not alone. Centres are literally mushrooming all over the city, providing an air-conditioned haven for families to hang out and play together, whatever the weather.
He says: ‘Ten-pin bowling is especially good for those with younger children, because usually it’s not easy to get involved in a team activity when you have kids as young as three or four. But even little ones can go bowling and really enjoy it.’
Switch Bowling, he explains, provides lane bumpers for young players to build up confidence and bowling ability. ‘If the ball keeps ending up in the gutter, they can lose interest. But the bumpers prevent this from happening, so even young children can actually play competitively against their parents and older siblings.’ The weight of the ball doesn’t have to be an issue either, he points out. While Switch provides lighter-weight balls for children, they can still be tricky to control, so ramps are used. ‘We position the ramps in the middle of the lane, and the children literally roll balls off it. This builds up their enthusiasm for the sport, because they don’t have to be experts to get good results.’
Not only that, he adds, but bowling is also great for your physical coordination (you have to get the ‘tip-toe shuffle and slide’ just right to get a strike), it can burn calories (the balls are heavy – plus there’s all that jumping about when you score a strike) and it can hone hand-to-eye coordination and concentration skills, too.
Ok, we admit we’re hooked. Now it’s your turn to give it a try!
Bowl like a pro with these top tips from Switch
If your ball is too light it’ll be hard to control. But a heavy ball will lack momentum. Make sure your grip is comfortable and you can release the ball easily.
Slide into it
Bowling shoes have ‘special slides’ to help you get the best results. Make sure you slide on the opposite foot to the hand you’re bowling with. Sliding helps the momentum of the ball and gives it extra power to knock the pins down.
Go all the way
Don’t stop when your arm reaches the side of your body. Keep it going all the way forward and you’ll get a more precise hit.
Have twinkle toes
It looks silly, but if you keep your steps smooth and small as you go for that all-important swing, making sure your hips and shoulders are squared with the pins, your swing will be much more accurate.
Don’t step over the black line – if you do, any pins you knock down won’t count towards your score. So keep your eyes open!
Where in town
Switch bowling, Ibn Battuta
12 lanes, offering bumpers, ramps, lighter balls for kids, and bowling birthday parties.
Sun-Wed, 10.30am-11pm, Dhs25 per person, Dhs125 per hour per lane (max five players). Thu-Sat, 10am-midnight. www.switchbowlingdubai.com (04 405 961).
Al Nasr Leisureland, Oud Metha
Proves a popular budget option with local families. Bowling is available for kids aged eight and over.
Dhs15 per person, Dhs70 per lane per hour (9am-1pm, Sun, Mon, Wed), Dhs90 per lane per hour (1pm-4pm, daily) Dhs100 per lane per hour (4pm-midnight, daily). Tuesdays is ladies only. Open daily 9am-midnight. Oud Metha, www.alnasrll.com (04 337 1234).
Bowling City, Dubai Festival City
Nippers as young as four are welcome to play, and lane buffers are available at this modern venue.
Thu-Sat, Dhs20 per person. Sun-Wed (10am-4pm) Dhs10 per person. Sun-Wed (4pm-midnight) Dhs15 per person per game. Flexible packages are available according to the numbers of players. Open Sat-Thu 10am-midnight, Fri 10am-1am. www.dubaifestivalcity.com (04 232 8600).
Dubai Bowling Centre, Al Quoz
24 bowling lanes, with buffers for beginners, little ones as young as three can get involved. Lane bumpers, ramp options and a resident bowling coach.
Sun-Wed, 10am-6pm,Dhs15 per person. Dhs85 per hour per lane, 6pm-midnight, Dhs17/Dhs100; Thu-Sat, Dhs25/13 10am-6pm, Dhs30/Dhs1306pm-midnight. Open daily 10am-12.30am. www.bowlingdubai.com (04 339 1010).
Dubai International Bowling Centre, Al Mamzar
The biggest bowling alley in town offers the best rates too. This 36-lane centre welcomes kids as young as three. There are lane bumpers but no ramps.
Sun-Wed, 9am-4pm Dhs10 per person. Dhs60 per hour per lane; 4pm-1am Dhs12 per person, Dhs80 per lane. Thu-Fri, Dhs15/Dhs100. Open daily 9am-1am. www.dubaibowlingcentre.com (04 296 9222)
Yalla! Bowling, Mirdif
Bumpers are available, and spare socks if your brood turns up in their flip-flops. Plus, Johnny Rockets next door is an after-game bonus for hungry players.
Sun-Wed, Dhs20 per person,Dhs5 (for socks); Thu-Sat, Dhs25 per person. Open daily 10am-midnight. Mirdif City Centre, www.theplaymania.com (04 296 9222).