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Spares Go Down, Your Bowling Average Goes Up

If the spares go down, your bowling average goes up. One of the most important keys to achieving high scores, maintaining a high average, and excelling in competition is becoming an excellent spare shooter.

No question that bowlers typically pay greater attention to getting strikes than to converting spares. Truth be told, by becoming an excellent spare shooter, your abilities to hit your target and the pocket improve.

Knowing how to make effective spare adjustments broadens your knowledge of how your bowling ball will react crossing the oil pattern on the bowling lane.

If you develop a reliable spare alignment system and learn which adjustments to make for various spare combinations, then your strike alignment and adjustment skills improve as well. So remember, if the spares go down, your bowling average goes up.

Dedicate a certain amount of your practice time to making spare adjustments on the lanes and work hard at converting every spare you leave. Try not to waste any opportunity to fill frames.

When you miss a routine spare, like a single-pin spare or a two-pin spare combination such as the 6-10, the 2-5, or the 4-7 combinations, you need to follow it up with a double (two consecutive strikes) to make up for lost pin totals.

In order to gain full advantage of every “double” or “three bagger” you roll, pick up your spares. Missing a spare negatively impacts the scoring advantage you should be enjoying from rolling consecutive strikes because of an open frame.

When practicing spares, take special notice of your walking lines when approaching the foul line. You may be a bowler who walks a straight path to the line when rolling for strikes. When you move cross lane, however, to attempt to pick up a corner pin spare, your walking pattern may drift excessively off line and hurt your chances of hitting your spare target.


Double check your walking lines when shooting spares as well as when rolling for strikes. Pay attention to details when it comes to making precise adjustments for spares. Once you select a sighting target on the lane and an adjusted starting position on the approach, make sure you walk your intended lines. It is worth repeating, pay attention to details to improve your spare shooting skills.

Just as when rolling for strikes, your sighting target is an intermediate location your ball rolls across on the way to converting a spare. By drifting off line on a spare adjustment, you invite trouble. Your ball may cross the oil pattern and either pick up too much skid and miss the spare or you may not get sufficient ball skid and you miss the spare on the opposite side. To get a predictable ball reaction when shooting spares, make certain you do not drift off of your walking line.

There are many spare systems you can choose to use in competition. The best system is one in which your ball has a consistent and reliable ball reaction as it travels down the lane toward a given spare pin combination. If the lanes have a heavy concentration of oil in the middle of the lane which helps you hit the pocket easily, then using a spare system where you work off of your strike alignment position using the same strike sighting target for your spares (other than corner pin spares) might be a good system to develop.

This article is not intended to identify specific spare alignment systems but rather to stress the importance of sharpening your spare skills and becoming the best spare shooter possible. We recommend you consult a certified coach or an experienced instructor if you have questions about how you can improve your spare alignment system.

After all, your scores depend on filling frames. Just remember, when spares go down, your bowling average goes up.

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