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Plastic Ball Spares for a Left-Handed Bowler

This is an excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals 2nd Edition by Michelle Mullen.

As in chapter 10, spares are broken down into right-side and left-side spares, with the emphasis in this chapter on the right-side spares. This is because the angles for the left-side spares are the same as those presented in chapter 10. The only difference is that you will be using a plastic ball to eliminate ball reaction when shooting these spares. The starting point for the 7 pin is the same (approximately board 35), and the adjustments for the remaining spares on the left side are the same.

What is different in this system is that you will not move from your strike line when shooting right-side spares. Rather, you first will develop a separate angle toward the 10 pin using your plastic ball, and then adjust for the remainder of the spares on the right by moving from this arbitrary angle. I will start with single-pin spares, followed by multiple-pin spare combinations.

Shooting straight at spares definitely has a different feel. This section explains what to expect as you make this transition to using a plastic ball toward these spares. This includes addressing technique as well as common obstacles that may undermine your commitment to this system.

Single-Pin Spares

For pins on the right, you first have to establish a separate 10-pin shot, independent of your strike line. Once you have determined this angle, move from here for the remaining spares on the right side, maintaining the target that you used on your 10-pin shot.

Establishing a 10-Pin Shot

Use a target somewhere around the center of the lane - let's say, between the third and fourth arrows. Move over to the left and figure out an approximate place to stand that looks right to hit this target and get the 10 pin.

Make sure you turn, or close, your shoulders to face the 10 pin (figure 11.10). Remember that this ball does not hook. You are throwing it directly at the pin. Closing your shoulders can seem a bit awkward, because you never close them like this for any other shot.

Where to stand for this side is less clear because the amount of drift toward the target in an attempt to keep the shoulders closed and facing the pin varies from bowler to bowler.

Left-handed bowler with (a) shoulders closed to the 10 pin (b) walks toward the 10 pin.

It may sound like a contradiction to the notion of walking straight, but you do not walk straight when your shoulders are closed toward the 10 pin. With your arm swing on the left side of your body, you need to walk toward your target to keep your swing on the intended target line toward the pins on the lane and still follow through at a 90-degree angle to your shoulders. Where I am consistent about drift is that you never walk left toward your arm swing. Walk straight when your shoulders are open; walk slightly toward your target when your shoulders are closed.

Some bowlers drift more than others do and have to start more to the left. Some drift less and should start closer to the target. This has to be learned through trial and error. Typically, bowlers start somewhere around the 15 board and walk slightly toward the center of the approach for the 10 pin. Again, the only time you walk toward your target is when your shoulders are closed, and in this case you are not walking into your swing plane.

Adjusting for the Remaining Right-Side Spares

Just as you adjusted for the spares on the left by moving from your 7-pin position, to pick up the remaining spares on the right, you must adjust your angle off your 10-pin shot. The other pins on the right side of the lane can be broken down into two columns based on their relationship to the 10 pin. For these spares, move your feet to the right from the 10-pin shot, keeping the 10-pin target.

There are two columns of pins to the left of the 10 pin: the 6 pin and the 3/9 pins. Keep the target that you had for the 10 pin, between the third and fourth arrows.

For the 6 pin, move your feet three boards to the right from where you stood for your 10-pin shot (figure 11.11).

Remember, the adjustment for these pins is not made based on their relationship to the headpin. Instead, it is made based on their relationship to the 10 pin.

Read more from Bowling Fundamentals by Michelle Mullen.

More Excerpts From Bowling Fundamentals 2nd Edition