Bowling Spares


Bowling spares can really bring up your bowling score, and it is a great way to boost your average. If you haven’t been able to consistently break into the 200s, learning how to bowl spares may be just the thing you need to get that average up.

Successfully bowling spares is done through a few different systems, but not every type of system will work for every bowler. provides the details of the various systems for bowling spares. It is up to the individual bowler to decide what works best for them.

There are over 1000 potential ways of bowling a spare, so you can see the importance of this aspect of the bowling game. Some spare combinations are very rare but others are pretty common, like leaving the 10-pin for right-handed bowlers and leaving the 7-pin for left-handers. Experts have developed systems for bowling spares that focus on the more ordinary spare combinations: the 3-6-9 spare system and the 2-4-6 spare system, both of which are described in detail here at

The 3-6-9 spare system is considered to be the standard and is the easiest of the two. It is simpler to learn and the system for bowling spares that is most commonly taught by bowling coaches today. The 2-4-6 spare system is a bit more difficult, but it is more successful and accurate. Both systems show the bowler how many boards they should move on their approach.

There are a couple of basic rules to remember for bowling spares:

First, when pins are left standing on the right, then move a few boards to the left on approach. If the pins left standing are on the left, then move a few boards to the right.

Second, the last row of pins should always be used as your “key pins.” For example, if the 3-pin, 6-pin and 10-pin are left standing after the first throw, only the path to the 10-pin should be visualized when planning for the second throw. Mentally preparing for this shot by imagining the ball successfully hitting that 10-pin will help in consistently bowling spares. It can boost the number of strikes too!