Spare shooting and scoring pace!

What are some tips to improve on spare shooting especially the 10 pin? I've always had trouble with my aim being too early and guttering the ball. Also in what spare situations is it better to use a strike ball vs a spare ball? – Scott Stanek Columbus, Ohio

 Josh Blanchard – “A lot of bowlers have problems with their corner pins depending on what hand they bowl with. The best advice I can give you is to try different dots to stand on and try different arrows to aim at till you can find a comfortable spot to consistently pick up those pesky corner pins. The best angle is across lane, but that isn't always the most comfortable for some bowlers so I suggest finding s comfortable spot so you have confidence when shooting them.” 

Craig Spencer – “In my opinion, the best method, if committed to, is a plastic ball at any spares that don’t have a “sleeper”, or a pin directly behind another pin. I think at any level of the sport, whether it’s league bowlers, top amateurs or top professionals, you will find that the best spare shooters throw plastic most of the time. The plastic ball does the best job at taking the lane out of play. This means that across different centers or oil patterns you can shoot your spares the same way each time. Being able to do this will help you develop muscle memory over the long term. Once the muscle memory is significant the amount of focus and energy you expend on your spares reduces tremendously which allows you more focus and energy on your first ball. With the increasing popularity of sport patterns in tournaments, the idea of having to adjust with your reactive ball on both strikes and spares makes a 5+ game tournament sound much more exhausting. As far as the 10 pin specifically, everyone is different. I would suggest dedicating a practice session to it and trial and error different methods. That or work with a coach that can take a look at your swing and foot work during cross lane shots, to see if anything is getting out of place forcing you to miss your target right. 

An additional tip for seniors, or bowlers with slow ball speeds that experience plastic balls still hooking quite a bit is to try a conventional grip. This can help reduce the amount of lift put on the ball, and although it can take some time to get used to, it can eventually increase your spare percentage for spares on the right-hand side of the lane.”

What's your opinion on how to regulate scoring pace in bowling today? - Eric Hatchett Las Vegas, Nevada

Josh Blanchard – “This is a very complex question with not just one correct answer. There are many variables in bowling that can cause scoring paces to go up and down. 

   Now my personal opinion on what could help regulate scoring in today's game is the pins. One thing that has helped scores increase is the size of the pocket you can hit and watch the pins fly around causing unbelievable pin carry. Making bowlers hit a smaller more defined pocket would decrease the amount of strikes for the average bowler and cause the scoring pace to slowly go down. 

  Just because I mention this doesn't mean I think it should happen in all leagues or open play. Having the average bowler be able to get strikes and have fun quicker is an intriguing element our game holds. I believe managing the scoring pace on a tournament or professional level is a necessity moving forward. And my quick answer to that is changing the physics of the bowling pins. You are not going to tell every proprietor in the world that they must oil a certain way to lower their league bowlers average. They would all rebel against it and we would cause a bigger issue than a solution.” 


Craig Spencer – “Oh boy! This is always a touchy one, as people have solutions they are very passionate about. The weight of the pins is the most popular answer. While I agree, this is a great solution, I just can’t imagine it ever getting being successfully implemented. Only because the logistical and financial resources that it would require would be too much. It’s not about what the best solution is, it’s about the best solution given all the other factors involved in the industry. How do we reduce the scoring issues without those solutions being a huge burden on the bowling centers and governing bodies. Is there a solution that costs less time and money?

I believe the solution is in the oil patterns and the culture of scoring. Because it targets the more concerning areas of the scoring problem, and as more and more centers get modern lane machines, the logistical and financial cost to implement is pretty non-existent.

Everyone would like that competitive league of high average bowlers to look like league bowling of the 80’s, where averaging over 200 meant you were a great bowler, and 300 was a huge accomplishment. This is still absolutely obtainable. Your leagues that aren’t as competitive, use a slightly easier pattern and  first time bowlers in the entry level leagues use the normal house shot. This only brings down the scoring in the area of the sport it needs to be reduced. We want new bowlers to come in, have an easier time to throw high scores and enjoy themselves. However, we just need them to understand that it doesn’t mean they are as good as a professional when they average over 200. They know because the center explains about the pattern difficulty throughout their leagues when the new bowler signs up for a league. USBC is already implementing average conversion charts to cross compare averages on different conditions which will also help with this.

This is achieved by the local associations, tournaments and competitive leagues implementing harder patterns, not because it’s the right thing for entries, but because it’s the right thing for the sport long term. Yes, we may lose bowlers in the beginning, but if there is a more clear and arduous journey of mastering the sport, it will result in a longer commitment from new bowlers, an increased respect for our professionals and a better platform to showcase our sport to unknowing consumers and advertisers. In my opinion, the current structure is trying very hard to keep bowlers bowling that have been bowling for a long time, but it’s at the expense of brand new bowlers getting bored and leaving our sport very quickly.”