Article Contents

  • 1. Matching the system to the bowler
    • 1.1. Find your spare game
    • 1.2. Verify alignment
    • 1.3. The three L’s
  • 2. Leaving easier spares
  • 3. Practicing your spares effectively
    • 3.1. How we really improve
  • 4. Deep spare shooting
    • 4.1. The rules of deep practice
  • 5. Developing feel
    • 5.1. Move the feet
    • 5.2. Move the target
    • 5.3. Choose part of the pin
    • 5.4. The 50/80 rule
  • 6. Conclusion

Before we discuss how to improve your spare shooting, I’d like to go back to how I started my search for the best way for a bowler to make more spares. It all began with young and talented two-handers. When I first started coaching in Peru, where about 95 percent of the youth bowlers are two-handed, it was pretty mind-blowing. They were so good. So talented. Until they had to shoot a spare.

Many two-handers don’t develop as much accuracy as one-handed bowlers and struggle to reduce their rev rate to play straighter, so their spare shooting suffers. It was my job to figure out how to teach these ultra-talented young bowlers how to make spares, but I had to approach things in a different way.

As a result, I did some research. I read everything I could about spare shooting, attended conferences, and watched videos, all to learn as much as I could about teaching spares and to figure out how to unlock the potential in these young bowlers.

One of the first things I learned, and which many bowlers who have looked into this will know, is that there are many different spare shooting systems out there, which all seem to be effective for different players. Coach Joe Hoenig discussed many of them in his two-part series, The Art of Filling the Box (part 1 and part 2).

It became clear to me that the spare system itself wasn’t all that important, so long as the bowler had one that matched their game and athletic abilities. Next, it was crucial to leave more makeable spares. And finally, the way we practice our spares must change if we are going to master this aspect of the game.

Matching the system to the bowler

As I just mentioned, there is no single “best system” for shooting spares. Saying that there is a single best system is like saying there is only one perfect bowling swing or one perfect start position. It doesn’t take long to find world-class players with different swings and different ways to ...

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Ernesto Avila

About Ernesto Avila

Ernesto Avila is a professional bowling coach who is currently the Head Coach of the Peru national team. He is a Panam Bowling Master Coach, a USBC Silver Coach, and an ETBF Level 3 Coach.