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Bowling: How To Pick Up Spares

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Anyone who has bowled knows that getting a strike, or knocking down all the pins in one shot, is no easy task. If a bowler is not able to get a strike, they get another shot at knocking down the remaining pins. If the bowler gets all of the spares, they are able to get a bonus on their score.

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The next ball also gets added to the current frame. Getting a spare can be difficult or easy, depending on the shot.    Perhaps the easiest spare to pick up is when only the middle pin is left standing. A shot that would take more concentration would be any kind of “split” or when there is a gap(s) between the pins. The bigger the gap, the tougher it is to pick up a spare. 

Picking up a spare that is not split is relatively straightforward. In a single pin spare, aim directly for the pin and try to keep the ball as straight as possible. Since even a small bump of the bowling ball has the potential to knock the single pin over, the chances of picking up this type of spare are pretty good.

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There is an exception, though. Single pin spares directly next to the gutter on the same side as the hand the bowler shoots with can be a nuisance to any bowler. The 10 pin is difficult for “righties” and the 7 for a “leftie”. Because of a bowler’s natural stance and throwing motion, this shot can easily cause a “gutter ball”. Some advice for the bowler that finds themselves in this position is to move to the opposite side of the lane as the spare pin.

A single pin on the same side is not as difficult, but can still be tricky. Generally, it is not advisable to hook the ball when shooting at one pin, but in this case it may help. This is because it raises the size of the target area, where the ball is most likely to pick up the spare.

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Besides the single pin, two adjacent pins left standing are easy to knock down as well. The target area for this shot is smaller. The bowler must hit the pins in just the right spot to know them both over. Hitting the pin in front, on the opposite side of the one in the back, usually causes a little domino effect and knocks them both over. Another tactic is to try to hit the front pin on the side closest to the other pin, but this is not as reliable. 

Split spares are more complex to pick up. It is easiest when there is only a small gap in between the pins, but the shot still requires precision. Hitting the pin in front toward the one that is closest behind it is the best way to pick up 2-7 and 3-10 splits. 4-5 and 5-6 splits require the bowler to aim directly between them, knocking them over at the same time. The 7-10 split is the hardest and requires both luck and precision. One pin needs to make it across the lane and knock the other over.

Picking up spares is crucial in the game of bowling. One cannot rely on strikes alone. Practicing picking up spares can make a mediocre bowler a great one. All one needs is patience and a little bit of knowledge.

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