Advanced Spare Practice

Advanced Spare Practice


Whether you're bowling on league patterns or competing for Team USA on International “sport condition”, any variety of lane patterns should be met with a specific game plan for spares.

Most leagues allow the outside of the lanes to be dry while the middle is heavy allowing all styles to get to the pocket successfully. This can even make spares easier to shoot because bowlers know what to expect from the outside to the inside of the lane. Quick example, shooting a four pin or seven pin spare for a right handed bowler on an easy lane condition can be as easy as throwing it straight or slowing the ball speed and hooking the ball off the dry boards to the right, both options are high probability for the spare conversion.

Lane conditions with “flatter” pattern design, (less ratio or oil from the middle to the outside part of the lane) are more challenging and don’t always allow for conventional spare shooting methods. Using the previous example, shooting a four or seven pin spare on a long & heavy volume oil pattern may not allow you to hook at the left side.

To compete at the highest level you need two plans to shoot any spare. Although you may not use one of them very often, you need a second version for specific situations.






There are two specific lane pattern types that need adjustments for spares. Long distance patterns with a heavy volume of oil need straighter angles and short distance patterns with light volumes of oil need adjustments for extra hook potential. Here are a few tips for shooting spares on different lane conditions.


Long Distance (42 ft and beyond)/ Heavy Volume

  • Straighter angles
  • Medium – Slow ball speed
  • Medium – Straight hand position


Short Distance (33  - 36 ft) / Low Volume  

  • Straighter angles or open angles for 2-8 or 3-9 pin combinations
  • Medium – Fast ball speed
  • Straighter hand position

Keep in mind that as the lanes change, the need to adjust to specific spare combinations can change and if you’re prepared to adapt your scores will put you in Gold medal contention.