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#13181 - 06/18/05 04:01 PM Tired of missing spares
TucsonDave Offline
Bantam

Registered: 05/14/05
Posts: 18
A/S/L: 46/M/Tucson
I would be a decent bowler if I could pick up more spares, and I am tired of missing easy pickups. I have a couple of questions on the subject.

First, how do people practice spares? Do you just aim for a specific pin on a full rack of pins, or is there some way for the machine to layout the spare you want to work on? I always hear about how important it is to practice spares, but I am not sure how.

Second, I am reasonably consistent hitting my mark on my strike ball, but I often miss my mark badly when shooting spares. Are there common causes for this? It is so frustrating to line up the shot, and concentrate on the mark, only to see your ball miss the mark to the left or right by 5 boards.

Any and all tips on improving spare conversion would be appreciated.
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#13182 - 06/18/05 04:17 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Smooth Stroker Offline
Legend

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 1905
A/S/L: 45/M/Long Island
If I had to guess, I would say that maybe you take your eyes off of your mark on the spare shot. You may look away for just a moment, but that is enough. If you want to get better at spares, hit the 10 pin on the first shot and try to pick up whatever is left on the second shot.
When I practice I usually just focus on my focus. If I can consistently hit my mark on each shot, then I can pick up most spares and stay in the pocket for easy spares or none at all. laugh
For me, the best way to practice my accuracy is to leave my comfort zone. I try playing the center arrow and the first arrow. Playing the first arrow takes lots of confidence in your release and accuracy. I always try that for a game or two when I practice.
One more thing, are you using plastic for spares? If not, then maybe you should. I use plastic for all spares except the double wood spares and strike line spares. My average went up immediately after getting plastic for my spares.
I bowled in a tournament last night and through four games I had two opens, one open was on the big four. So I would swear by plastic and focus drills.
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#13183 - 06/18/05 06:14 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Atochabsh Offline
USBC Bronze Coach

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 6567
A/S/L: 50/F/California
You need to have a consistent system for picking up spares. There are a number of "systems" out there. I have a variation of the 3,6,9 system. I keep my strike target the same for my spares, except my 7 pin, 4/7, 10 pin and 6/10. I tweak this system if I find an unusually high or low amount of oil in the middle. But I know when I leave an 8 pin or a 2/8 exactly how many boards I have to move my feet. I have these numbers in my head for all my spares, so that its really automatic. Just a matter of executing.

So basically once I get going on a set of bowling, I have three, maybe 4 main targets. One main strike target for each lane, and the same target on each lane for the respective corners. The targets for the corners remain the same in nearly all houses since I use a plastic ball. So practise gets the corners down. Leaving me to adjusting to only the strike target during each session. Then of course that main strike target will move as the lane transistions. I use the term MAIN because that's my primary target, usually around the arrows in lane depth. My breakpoint is my secondary target.

Now if you are a break point only bowler, I can see how this would be more difficult to establish a system. Since moving your break point to get spares may or maynot put you in a totally different oil ratio on the lane. Attempting to alter your breakpoint up and down the lane is an advanced skill requiring extreme speed control.

You can just practise spares. Like Smooth said, target for the 10 pin, leaving you the rest of the rack. Then pick a pin out of that rack and go for it. Go an entire game (both balls within the frame) shooting the 10 pin. If you clear out the 10 pin with the first ball, its pretty easy to make a judgement call if you get it the second time too. If I am practising with a partner, sometimes we'll alternate strike shots and spare shots within the frame. Go one game with person A doing the strike shot and person B the spare. Then next game switch.

Hope this board can provide you with some good ideas for your spare shooting. Pick up a couple books on bowling. Every book I've read, has some chapter on spares.

Erin

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#13184 - 06/18/05 07:19 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Jason Fewell Offline
Bracket Donor

Registered: 01/09/05
Posts: 156
A/S/L: 32/Male/Mckinney, Tx
I agree with Erin and Smooth. When I practice, say I want to practice shooting straight at the 4 pin, for the entire game, that's all I shoot at. No strike balls no other shots, just the 4 pin vacinity. Next game, I'll shoot at something different. What you can do to improve accuracy is get a piece of white Bowler's tape and place it at your mark. Practice hitting that. Hope this helps...
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#13185 - 06/18/05 10:07 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Dick Offline
High Roller

Registered: 02/12/01
Posts: 311
A/S/L: Quarryville, Pa
I throw straight at my spares unless I leave a double would shot. I usually will hook into double wood. I do not vary my targets for spares. For the 10 pin I stand on 35 and hit 15 at the arrows. I do not use plastic. I just flatten the ball out. Once you have your first mark identified you work the rest of the shots off of that. When you practice focus on the key pins. They are the 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10. Actually, once you get lined up for the 4 and 6 you basically have the 7 and 10 lined up also. I will not bother telling you how many boards I move for each shot as you will develop your own system. If you use plastic and throw your normal shot the system is still basically the same but you may have to modify it some when you hit a flood or extreme dry conditions. When I practice spares I start at the 10 pin and just work back and forth across the key pins. Eventually, with much practice you will be able to hit any of the key pins not only dead on but also left side and right side. Good luck and practice, practice, practice.
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#13186 - 06/19/05 12:19 AM Re: Tired of missing spares
TucsonDave Offline
Bantam

Registered: 05/14/05
Posts: 18
A/S/L: 46/M/Tucson
I use a plastic ball for my spares. I will start practicing spares tomorrow using the techniques suggested. I am sure that I can improve my "system" of hitting spares, but it is a rare exception when I hit my mark, and miss the spare. For the most part, my problem is missing my mark. It is something about coming in at a different angle I think. For example, I know the mark I have to hit to make the 10 pin, but I have a hard time hitting it. I start at the far left hand arrow and bowl diagonally across the lane, which I believe is the preferred method for corner pins. I try to walk straight from my starting point to my mark, and then bowl at my mark.

I do think that I am keeping my eye on the mark. I sure concentrate on it, and I don't look at the pins at all until my ball has passed my mark. (In fact, if I miss my mark, I don't look at the pins at all, because I already know the result.
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#13187 - 06/19/05 01:26 AM Re: Tired of missing spares
Atochabsh Offline
USBC Bronze Coach

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 6567
A/S/L: 50/F/California
I think you need to align your shoulder, elbow, forearm and ball to the target. Feet should be aligned also, and they should be parallel with each other. You don't have to think "walk to your target", if your entire body posture is aligned with your target, you have a very good chance at hitting it. YOu will probably drift more at that angle, but the object is to hit your target.

Now! if you are missing inside, you can make a lateral movement with the ball in your starting position, slightly to the right. That should get you swinging the ball more and help open your shoulders. Thus pulling the ball behind your back and assisting you in hitting the target that is far right from your stance.

Erin

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#13188 - 06/19/05 10:03 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Dick Offline
High Roller

Registered: 02/12/01
Posts: 311
A/S/L: Quarryville, Pa
I generally agree with you Erin but there are a couple of things I need to mention. First, you mention setting up with your feet parallel to each other. I do that but I have my ball side foot, I am a four stepper, pulled back a few inches from my slide foot, toe of the ball side foot about at the instep of the slide foot, to preset my hips. Second, you mention pulling the ball behind your back. I have to disagree with this. You should never intentionally pull the ball behind your back. I hope I misunderstood you as I believe wrapping the ball behind the back opens up a whole new can of worms.
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USBC Bronze Level Coach

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#13189 - 06/20/05 12:55 AM Re: Tired of missing spares
Atochabsh Offline
USBC Bronze Coach

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 6567
A/S/L: 50/F/California
Its all part and parcel to opening the shoulders and the importance of the balance arm in assisting shoulder alignement. If your balance arm is not steady, is too high, it will alter your shoulder action and thus your arm swing.

But I was trying to do is assist in the eventuality that tugging the ball becomes a problem. Which is a very common problem I might add. A lateral shift of where the ball is held at stance can make a huge difference. A lot of people hold the ball too much in front of them, which then does lead to a wrapping around arm swing. Holding the ball slightly to the side or inline with the shoulder (rather then in front of the body) can help if tugging gets to be a problem.

I agree the words are clumbsy and not clearing illustrating the idea I was trying to convey. But in the case where you want to swing the ball, opening the shoulders more can help. And a lateral shift of where you hold the ball, easily fascilitates this movement. Thus can help hit a target that is further right then you are comfortable with.

Erin

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#13190 - 06/20/05 02:36 PM Re: Tired of missing spares
Magpie Offline
League Bowler

Registered: 02/03/05
Posts: 91
A/S/L: Male / Rochford England
Hope you don’t mind if I chip in at this point.

Sparing is fairly simple if you obey some basic rules, it has been made complicated by the equipment and lane surfaces prevalent in today’s game. Most bowlers (even some rank beginners) will be using aggressive equipment for their strike ball. This means that in order to spare they have to either:

Change balls to a less aggressive surface
Change release and or speed to kill the hook
Or if you are really unlucky a combination.

The upshot is that unless you practice it can be difficult to hit your chosen target leading to missed spares.

Learn a basic mathematical spare system; the grand-daddy of them all is the 3-6-9 system which is based on lane geometry. The idea is to find the point of origin on the approach for hitting the swing side corner pin (using your spare ball) and then move 3 boards inside for each row of pins. For example a right-hander would move 3 boards right for the 6-pin, 6 boards for the 3-pin and 9 boards would hit the head-pin fairly solid. For balance side spares the point of origin is usually the pocket, once again the idea is to move three boards for each row of pins. As a R-H bowler moving 3 right with my feet will hit solid Brooklyn, 6 should hit the 4-pin and 9 the 7-pin. However as you are often going over a wall of oil then you might need to refine it a little, for example typically I use a ratio of 3-7-11 in my house. The trick for balance side spares is to watch the ball and make sure that it does not "back off" your spare, if it does then adjust.

When I did my “Phase I” instructor’s course many years ago we were also taught the 2-4-6 system where you keep the same starting point but change your target. Once again this is a geometrical system and should work fine but in reality it is heavily reliant on friction being equal across the lanes. I also think that it relies on a lost art, the ability to hit a small target, when many bowlers cannot hit a “cow’s rear end with a banjo”. If you have diligently moved around to find “area” for your strike line then it is certainly counter intuitive to then expect to spare by shifting your target especially by as little as 2-boards. However it can be most useful for hitting balance side corner pins. For example if I am not sure how my polyester ball will break across the oil I will move my target an arrow left and go at it with my strike ball with a high percentage of success.

Above all you must be confident on your spares and never allow an iota of doubt cross your mind. To use the old cliché you must also be “in the now”. By definition you have left a spare after a failure, failure that is to strike. Do not let that "failure" carry over into your sparing especially if you feel hard done by, the number of times I have seen a simple spare missed because the bowler believed it should not be there in the first place is far too big to count, I wish I had a $ etc.

I love bowling against some opponents because you know that they react badly to what they perceive as tough breaks and blow the simplest of spares. The way to a 190 average is built on spares not strikes.

As for training exercises I “go round the deck”. I start by rolling at the 1-pin, go onto the 2-pin etc until I have hit every pin from 1 to 10. They need not be standing, just roll the ball over their position on the pin deck but be honest with yourself. If I miss I go back to the beginning, great for when you get down to the 9 or 10-pins as it is a long way back. If you want to be less brutal then just go back one pin.

This exercise really helps you to tighten up your spares and teaches you a great deal about how your ball reacts down different lines. If you can throw a dead straight ball, practice going straight down the boards as well, it can be very useful for those “choppable” spares such as 2-4-5.

Sorry it was such a long post but sparing is such an important part of our game even in the era of monster strike balls. I also find it fun; I will back my sparing on tough lanes against anyone.

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