30 Comments on “Bowling Spare Shooting 101. How to Make Your Spares Like the Pros!”

  1. Nice video! Whether you shoot them straight or use something like 3-6-9, I think the important thing is to have a system, not just “wing it”. Also, and this is more of an advanced thing as you know, but ideally you want to hit the corner pins on the inside (as you did, of course!)…outside and you risk falling into the gutter.

  2. Being old(school) loved the tips of shooting off the center arrow. I know that some of the R handed Pros shoot the 7 pin from left side of lane hard and straight right at the pin. I feel more secure using center of lane as this great video illustrates. This is real bonus having McKendree University coach and PWBA star Shannon O’Keefe coaching us!

    1. Qq- looks like she is basically using a plastic ball for all of her spares. So this system would be best I believe with a straight plastic ball right?

    1. Learned “the” spare system from Bill Taylor, the ‘guru of bowling’. It’s so simple you will say “that’s stupid, it can’t work”. . . . know your strike target, for pins left on the left – 2, 4, 7 – ‘double’ the pin number, move that many boards to the right, and shoot your strike target. Pins on the right – 3, 6, 10 – ‘equal’ the pin number, move that many boards to the left, and shoot your strike target. Years after I refined this system another howler, in her nastiest voice, blurted out to me, “Well, you never miss a spare.” Try it.

    2. @Jim Marrnot completely following you. Is there a web site or video explaining Taylor’s system?. I couldn’t find it.

    3. @Tony Guerrier Tony, I know it sounds tooooooo easy, because it is. Let’s say you are using the 15 board ‘target’ for your strike ball. If you leave the 2 pin, move your feet 4 boards RIGHT from where you stood for your strike ball, shoot the 15 board ‘target’. If you leave the 4 pin, move your feet 8 boards RIGHT from where you stood for your strike ball, shoot the 15 board ‘target’. 7 pin move 14 boards right.
      If you leave the 3 pin, move your feet 3 boards LEFT from where you stood for your strike ball, shoot the 15 board ‘target’. If you leave the 6 pin, move your feet 6 boards LEFT from where you stood for your strike ball, shoot the 15 board ‘target’. 10 pin move 10 boards left.
      Your ball will hit the pin ‘dead center’.
      This is a ‘base’. Dial it in from there. When I use the 10 board ‘target’ for my strike ball, for the 6 & 10 pins, I change my target to the 15 board.

    4. I try the 3, 6 9 for every pin except the 10 and 7. I hit the 10 pin 90% of the time and miss the Seven 70% of the time. I move to the right from my 21 board and throw at the 7. The ball usually curve into the gutter about 3 inches from the 7.

  3. Thank you Shannon, for the great bowling tip of using the middle arrow to work the spares. I am awful at picking up the spares, all over the lane. This video, I know will definitely improve my spare shooting. Thank you again for an excellent video.

  4. Nicely done, yet again, Shannon!
    The only problem I have is the ten pin on the right lane. I’m on the hefty side and the fourth arrow is a bit too far left for me to keep the ball on line to the ten. I do quite well using the third arrow though. Same adjustment system as you recommend, work around the same target to find the best starting position.
    Simply reiterates an old saying, “Keep It Simple!” Thanks!

  5. This video has helped my game tremendously. I purchased a plastic ball and rarely miss ten/seven pins anymore during league.

  6. Great advice, Shannon! Ten pins spares are so rewarding when u make them cuz it keeps your score moving. Nothing worse than missing it when you’re working on a string of strikes or need that spare in the 10th frame to win a game. I will definitely practice using the tips you gave us.

  7. Great video. For years I have shot spares off of my strike line (using my strike ball for all but the ten pin) and employing variant of the 3-6-9 rule. But every now and then I would find myself getting into trouble and was looking to find a system that would take the lane conditions out of play for the spares.

  8. Great vid, Shannon! I do have a few questions:
    First, I noticed that although you spoke of using the middle/4th arrow as your visual target, on both your 10 pin and 7 pin shots, your ball appeared to be slightly left of the 4th arrow (10pin) and slightly right of the 4th arrow (7 pin). Since you obviously converted both of those spares, would you agree that the goal is not to nail the 4th arrow dead center all the time, but that it’s more of a reference point?

    Second, I noticed that on your 7 pin conversion, while you definitely converted it, your ball hit more of the right side of the pin. When we are attempting to convert spares and solidifying our spare shooting system and skills, and especially when we are using a plastic or rubber spare ball (in my case, lol!), should we care how flush we hit the object pin, and tweak our system until we can hit it flush, or does that not matter, because after all, we hit it and that means our targeting system works?

    Third, although you didn’t mention it, as the bowler determines which board to stand on for which spare, should the bowler make a note of those board numbers for future and faster reference, or should the bowler simply repeat the process of visually drawing a line from object pin through 4th arrow to wherever the bowler feels comfortable standing–as you demonstrated–on each and every shot?

    Thanks again,


  9. This was needed so much! Converting spares are really hard for me and would like to button that down and convert them more than I am now. Sadly when I have a good shot the pesky 7 and 10 pins are the bane of my existence. Cant wait for my second ball so I can practice with a proper setup than using a house ball

  10. Thank you for the advice! I have been struggling badly on my 10 pin and can’t wait to go to bowling to try this!

  11. We all need to learn to roll a strait rolling shot, that we trust, so we don’t have to fit our hook in. Best tip that helped me rolling the ball strait with accuracy is to, at address, hold the ball with a loose wrist, and keep my thumb pointing parallel to the shot through the entire approach. At release, thumb pointing at the shot and fingers at 5 and 7 o’clock. The ball rolls end over end. Then if I use plastic, any unintended side spin won’t grab the lane. Lastly, use the middle for targeting to have the best angle, chances at keeping on the lane and to be in the oil pattern as long as possible to kill any reaction on the ball.

  12. I used this idea today and it made a huge difference. I kept leaving the 10 pin, but finally had a method of aiming that worked. Picked up the 10 consistently (3 of 3) and feel much more confident in how to approach spares.

  13. Thank you for posting this very helpful video! I am planning on giving this system a try next practice session.

  14. Missing 10-pin spares especially has been killing my games lately. Looking forward to trying out the center arrow approach you demonstrated so clearly!

  15. I already bowled several games without an open frame after watching and applying this spare system. Very easy to follow tutorial. Pretty much basic geometry and the other execution. thank you, thank you.

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