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Two Simple Bowling Spare Shooting Systems, Originally Posted: 8/2/15; Updated: 3/17/21

If you are a beginner bowler and do not hook the ball much, or at all, there are simple ways of converting spares.

Two simple bowling spare shooting systems can lead you to higher scores and an organized method of converting routine spares.

Plastic balls hook minimally compared to modern high tech bowling balls with aggressive coverstocks so it is recommended to use a plastic ball or a ball with a low hook potential rating when shooting spares.

Using a system to deliver your ball on a straight, or very near straight, delivery path toward the key pin in each spare combination takes much guesswork out of making adjustments.

Typically you can choose a spot on the lane near the middle of the lane, such as the fourth (middle arrow) located about 17 feet distance beyond the foul line, and use the same target for shooting all spares.

If the key pin in your spare is located on the right side of the lane, stand to the left side of the approach and aim at the center arrow.

If the spare is on the left side of the pin deck, move right on the approach and use the same center arrow as your sighting target to convert the spare.

Depending how far from center the key pin is located will dictate how far you adjust laterally on the approach.

The key pin in any spare combination is the pin nearest you when you step onto the approach.

With some experimentation, you can roll a straight shot over the center arrow with just the right amount of delivery angle so your ball converts the spare.

Another simple system is the 3-6-9 system.

The 3-6-9 system works as follows: for spares standing on the left side of the approach, you adjust your feet positioning to the right of where you stand to deliver your strike ball and aim at the same strike spot on the lane (such as the 2nd arrow) for the given key pin in the spare combination.

You adjust either 3 boards, 6 boards, or 9 boards depending how far from center the remaining pin is standing.

Use the opposite adjustment for spares on the right - move left either 3 boards right, 6 boards right, or 9 boards right depending how far from center your key pin is left standing on the deck.

Obviously, if you leave the 2 pin or 3 pin standing, use a 3 board adjustment from your strike positioning on the approach floor.

Adjust 6 boards, either left or right depending on which side of the lane the spare is standing, for the 4 pin and 6 pin spares.

For the 7 pin and 10 pin spares, move 9 boards left for the 10 pin or move 9 boards right for the 7 pin.

Spares on the left, move right. Spares on the right, move left.

You can modify this system slightly to a 2-4-6 system or to a 4-8-12 system depending on how oily the lanes are and how far your ball skids when crossing the boards of the lane.

Both systems are similar in that they call for the same lateral adjustment strategy, to the opposite side of the lane from where the key pin of the spare stands, but the difference is that in first system you aim at the center arrow and in the second system, you aim at the strike line spot on the lane and adjust from your strike line positioning.

Both systems call for using a ball which does not hook much so you can control the amount of hook and be accurate when trying to convert spares.

Spare shooting is an important part of the game. Developing a reliable system for adjusting to any spare on the lane, using a ball which gives you consistent control, and walking your lines and then following through toward your target are important tips for successful spare shooting.

If you have questions about developing a suitable spare shooting system, consult with an experienced bowling instructor to help you identify the system which will work best for your game.
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