Make Your Bowling Doubles Count
Getting the “double” in bowling is the backbone of good scoring. Two consecutive strikes is the first thing you strive for when starting your competitive sessions.
You cannot get a “triple” (“three-bagger”) unless you first record a “double.” The bowling “double” starts your string of strikes needed to roll those big game scores.
If the “double” is so important to scoring, then it makes sense to protect our “doubles” and make them count. We do so by avoiding unnecessary open frames.
If you commit to becoming a prolific spare shooter, to working on your spares until such a time where you miss very few routine spares, you will take advantage of your “doubles” and your scores will rise.
Careless spare shooting is the number one cause of losing the impact of the “double.” From time to time, all great spare shooters will miss an easy spare, but by far and away, they will convert the vast majority of spares and, therefore, hold enviable averages and are highly competitive in league and tournament play.
If you are skilled enough to hit the pocket consistently on strike ball deliveries when you must play your pair of lanes slightly differently, then you are already getting a good percentage of strikes and “doubles.” Don’t waste your double by missing a routine spare.
Because you are able to hit the pocket, you will strike fewer times than you like. This is the great conundrum in bowling - the solid pocket hit but the corner pin leaves.
You will leave the dreaded corner pin spares such as the 10 pin for right handed bowlers or the 7 pin for you left handed bowlers. This is part of the game no one enjoys but the best players take advantage by picking up the spare an extremely high percentage of times.
If you feel you suffer from missing too many 10 pin spares, then work on shooting the ten pin over and over in practice, maybe 30 or 40 consecutive deliveries until such a time when your technique becomes ingrained and you are convinced you have the right bowling ball
and release to pick up the spare over and over again.
If you tend to miss the “bucket” too often for your liking, then work on making the right adjustment and practice shooting that spare repeatedly. We commonly refer to the 2-4-5-8 pin combination as the bucket for right handed bowlers and, of course, the 3-5-6-9 combination for left handed bowlers.
Missing the bucket is going to happen to everyone because of the need to contact both the 2 and 8 pin with the ball without “chopping off” and leaving the 5 pin standing (right handed bowlers).
It is evident that the correct positioning on the approach, in relation to your strike positioning and the correct sighting target on the lane, is just as important when shooting the “bucket” spare as it is to hit the pocket when rolling for strikes.
Find an adjustment positioning where your ball makes a predictable motion down the lane when shooting the “bucket” just as when you are rolling for strikes.
It is easier to relax when shooting this difficult spare if you know your alignment is going to give you just as good of a chance to hit the front pin and the 5 pin while driving through to contact the pin on the back row on the pin deck.
You will develop a good spare adjustment system based on the oil pattern where you bowl by experimentation and by practice when scores do not count. Spend some time on these tricky spares so you reduce the number of times you miss the spare and retain the positive impact of your “doubles” on your scores.
The 3-6-9-10 is another tricky spare combination for right handed bowlers, as is the 2-4-7-8 for left handed bowlers. Apply the same strategy to shooting this spare combination as with the “bucket.’ Find a way to get your ball to react predictably while crossing the oil pattern at a different path then when rolling for strikes.
If you feel using a bowling ball
which reduces the overall amount of hook will help you best, have one ready for use and practice. Use the ball for spares so you are not fooled by an unknown ball reaction when rolling in competition.
Remember, your practice lane conditions may differ from league lane conditions so be prepared to adjust accordingly. Also remember that the best spare shooting system is the one which you feel most confident in using and execute consistently.
You get the point. By becoming a skilled spare shooter, by developing a clear spare system strategy, and by practicing your spares relentlessly until you seldom miss spares, you scores will benefit accordingly.
Save your “doubles” by picking up your spares. It is hard work and can be boring work to roll many games only practicing shooting spares but the dividends are worth the price.
If you want to make those “doubles” count, then become a great spare shooter. Your bowling average will thank you for your efforts.