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Bowling 3-6-9 Spare System

A very important key to improving your bowling scores is learning to convert spares effectively. If you are a beginning bowler or one who is averaging 130 or less currently and wish to improve your spare shooting capabilities, then learning the bowling 3-6-9 spare system will certain help. The bowling 3-6-9 spare system is one which has been around the game for literally decades of time and is extremely easy to learn and to implement.

First, it is vital to establish a initial strike alignment method and then base your spare adjustments off of your strike target line. In most bowling centers, the house lane condition allows bowlers to line up somewhere around the second arrow or tenth board from the edges of the lane (right side for right handed bowlers, left side for left handed bowlers). Also, bowlers will typically place their sliding bowling shoe on or near the center guide dot on the approach, which corresponds to the 20 (twenty) board or the center board.

Placing the instep of the sliding bowling shoe (left shoe for right handed bowlers) covering the 18 board with the instep of the shoe will position the outside of your bowling shoulder aligned with of the 10 board (2nd arrow). An initial alignment usually means targeting or spotting the 10 board, or very near that 10 board, (perhaps at the 8 or 9 board or even the 11 board depending how straight your ball travels or how much it hooks) at the targeting arrows about 15 feet beyond the foul line.

The bowling 3-6-9 spare system is based off of lateral adjustments either right or left of the initial strike alignment positioning with your feet on the approach. One simple factor must be remembered in properly aligning to spares:

For spares on the right side of the lane, move your feet left. For spares on the left side of the lane, move your feet right. Use your strike target for spares. It is that easy.

It helps to first learn and understand the bowling pin formations on the pin deck and how to identify the pins by their numbers. The key pin in any spare combination is the one nearest you.

The following are positioning adjustments on the approach for the key pin in formation and for using your strike target in the 3-6-9 spare system:

For the 2 pin, move right 3 boards

For the 4 pin, move right 6 boards

For the 7 pin, move right 9 boards

For the 3 pin, move left 3 boards

For the 6 pin, move left 6 boards

For the 10 pin, move left 9 boards

Here are a few tips for using this spare system successfully:

1. When adjusting your feet either left or right on the approach depending on the key pin left standing on the pin deck, point your toes of your bowling shoes very slightly toward the key pin of your spare. This will influence your hips and bowling shoulder slightly to face the pin squarely so releasing the bowling ball to your same strike target remains an easy task. During your approach, try and maintain your hips and shoulder facing the key pin or pins left standing.

2, If you are a right handed bowler (opposite for left handed bowlers) and you hook the ball modestly or perhaps quite even a bit, then we recommend for the 10 pin spare that you move to the far corner of the approach and use the the center arrow (or just to the right of the center arrow (4th arrow)) for the ten pin spare. Point the toes of your bowling shoes toward the ten pin but try to maintain a straight walking path to the foul line.

3. If your 3-6-9 adjustments are not enough of an angle change because of the lane oiling condition, then it is very acceptable to modify your system to a 4-8-12 system or perhaps even a 5-10-15 system so the adjustments change your delivery angle sufficiently to convert the spare so long as you use your same strike line target for each spare combination.

4. Using the same strike alignment target for spares is important because if you are aligned properly to the pocket, then the lane condition actually assists your ball motion similarly for spares as for strike deliveries.

5. Avoid drifting left or right with your steps from your adjusted starting position on the approach for any spare delivery. Try to walk a straight line based on your adjusted positioning of your bowling shoes on the approach for strike and spare deliveries alike.

6. Deliver your bowling ball the best you can at the same ball speed you use for strike deliveries. Avoid trying to roll the ball harder than you practice as you may not effectively control the ball path to the spare.

7. Use a polyester or plastic bowling ball for corner pin spares if the ball you choose for strike deliveries hooks too much and you are having difficulties holding the line to the spare. A spare ball can be very useful in converting the challenging corner pin spares.


Raising your bowling scores requires a dedication to improving your spare shooting abilities. Don't forget to make deposits in your spare bank! We hope this spare system helps.

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