A Simple Spare Shooting System For Bowling By John Gaines

Add Ten Pins Or More Onto Your Bowling Average With A Spare Shooting System

I know spares are boring, everybody wants to throw the big strike ball like Jason Belmonte, Sean Rash, or Tommy Jones. But did you know that each spare represents about an additional 11 pins towards your score? Don’t we all want to increase our average? The easiest way to do that is to make spares. You can easily raise your average from 150 to 170 just by making 2 more spares a game. Most league bowlers (and even a few professionals) do not have any system or method for shooting spares. They just grab their spare ball off the rack, step up on the approach, and fire away usually missing what’s left from the first delivery.

The Easy Spare Shooting System For Bowling

Here is an easy simple method for shooting spares. We are going to use the middle arrow for the 2, 4, 7, 3, 6, and 10 pin. For a right handed bowler shooting the 10 pin, place your left foot on 35, and roll the ball across the middle arrow. For the 6 pin it is a simple move of 3 boards to the right and place the center of your left foot on 32, but again using the middle arrow as our target for the ball to cross. For the 3 pin, it is again another 3 boards to the right from the 6 pin position and still using the middle arrow as our target. For the 7 pin we are going to place the center of our left foot on 13 and roll the ball across the middle arrow, and for the 4 pin, a simple 3 board move to the left, but again using the middle arrow as our target. For the 2 pin, another 3 boards left with our feet and roll the ball across the middle arrow.

For a left handed bowler, the targets are the same except you would use the center of your right foot to spot on the approach.

For cluster spares, you want to use the pin closest to you as the object pin to hit. For example, if you leave the 6-10, you would use the 6 pin position with your feet. For the 2-4-5, you would use the 2 pin position with your feet. One note to also remember. Not only do you want to place your feet in the right place shooting spares, you also want to angle your body in the same direction that you shooting the spare. Example, if you are shooting a 10 pin and are standing to the left, you must angle your body slightly right. The reason is you always want to be square to your target, and not the lane. For a 7 pin it would be the opposite. You are standing to the right to shoot a left side spare and therefore angle your body to the left so that again you are square to your target. I hope this makes spare shooting a little easier. Like anything, it takes practice to become more proficient at anything. If you are still struggling, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or seek out a USBC certified coach in your area.


4 thoughts on “A Simple Spare Shooting System For Bowling By John Gaines

  1. jeff says:

    I can’t believe how luck I was to stumble across this page… I carry a 165 league avg (RH)….I’ve just added a brand-new-used ball to my kit. Trying to open the house lanes up. That said, Spares have started bringing me down, along with my avg. 10 especially, but I’ve been missing pins right in the middle.
    Worst of all, because of this, I’ve lost 5 of 6 games, by pins alone. For the past two weeks I’ve lost confidence. I kill the pocket…TAP. I know, my i’m just missing it. but, that 10 pin or 6,3…8 have killed me. Not comfortable on the approach, not sure if i’m in the right place….then my head gets in the way….boom…drop that ball in the gutter 10 feet before the 10 pin…or loop that ball around the 6,8 or 9…..Arrrrr’gh.
    I bowl tonight, and looking forward to have a plan of attack… Thank John.

  2. jeff says:

    update….Nightmare… started off, good, then it all fell-apart…finished my 3rd game… 5 consecutive opens.. didn’t even hit a 400 series. team wide was a disaster. only won, one point. The last two of three weeks we’ve run up against the league sand-bagger’s….not this week… Highest avg was 180… we have three of five with 200 plus avgs…

    struggling with finding the right ball…most of I can’t find my mark.. unlike my single digit golf handicap…I can’t figure out my mistakes or why I’m missing my spares

  3. David Mason says:

    Let me start by saying I coach a high school team in Massachusetts, and this is how I work with the kids to make their problems disappear.

    For starters, you’re probably gripping the ball too tightly and overthinking. It’s not a ball issue if the ball comes into the pocket. If you’re leaving a 10 pin consistently, you can step back on the approach, opposite for the 7 pin (step-up), usually about a half step. As for gripping the ball tight, the frustration you’re feeling could be leading to you grabbing and gripping too tightly, which throws off your rotation angle, and the ball will react differently.

    What you should consider is:

    1. When the struggle starts, switch to a ball you feel very comfortable throwing. This will help you relax and get the flow back.

    2. Stop thinking, it damages your game.

    3. For spares, follow the 3-6-9 method. For every pin to the right of the headpin, you move your feet 3 boards left (3 pin – 3 boards; 6 pin – 6boards; 10 pin – 9 boards), and shoot at your normal strike target. Remember to point your toes toward the pin you wish to hit. For the 5, 8, or 9, adjust the footwork slightly, in order to make up the difference for the depth of the pin.

    4. PRACTICE. This is a great way to eliminate any issues by resolving them when it doesn’t matter. You’re under pressure in this league (assumedly) and are overthinking simplicity. Start by throwing a ball, not intending to get a strike. This will allow you to work on spare positioning, hand angles and figure it out without having to rush off to your next turn. During this practice, work on relaxing your hand. You can also regain your form and arm-swing by doing one-step and no step approaches. No step helps the arm swing, and the one-step helps with timing. On the no step, you take your slide foot and put it in front, assume your finish position (however it is), swing the arm back, forward (don’t release), back, release on forward. This should help if it’s an arm swing issue. On the one-step approach, you put your feet together, swing the arm back, forward (don’t release), back, and before you go forward, slide your slide foot forward, bring the arm forward, as if you did your full approach. This helps with timing. Mind you, the ball speed will be slower, so your targeting may be off. This isn’t a targeting drill. The next thing you do is 7-10 shots. Shoot at the 10 pin, then the 7 pin in any order you wish, with the sole desire to have a 2 for the total frame. This helps you with practicing your targeting. Now, that should last 1 full game. Game 2 you start throwing your normal strike shot. Now that you’ve worked on the other stuff. Remember, relax and do your process. I hope it helps.

  4. Bob Pellegrino says:

    In your article you say “For the 7 pin we are going to place the center of our left foot on 13 and roll the ball across the middle arrow”, but that seems impossible. Left foot on 13 and center arrow will result in a gutter ball 20 feet before the pins. I believe 18 would work, are you off by 5 or am I missing something here?

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