Making Your Spares

“Brackets” are a mini tournament using your game scores in whatever event you are competing in, there are typically 8 bowlers starting each bracket who are eliminated from the bracket as soon as they lose a game. The bowler has the option to buy as many of these “mini tournaments” as he would like, usually at a cost of $5 – $10 dollars each. The bowler competes, on a blind draw basis against another bowler in the event, if he wins his first game, he moves on to another winning bowler for the second game, and then again on to the third game. The payout for brackets is made form the entry fees for the brackets. It is not unusual for a bowler who is hot to make more money from brackets than from the original tournament. So this one spare miss really could have cost me more than $2000.00. But alas we will never know, however on to the story.

I was not bowling well on this particular day only averaging about 190 for the first 3 games, at the end of the third game I calculated that I could still make the cut with a final game of around 250. I switched bowling balls, changed to another line and led off with strikes for the first 6 frames, in the seventh frame I left the dreaded “ringing ten pin” the destroyer of more great bowling games than any other pin. I then proceeded to miss the spare, and score strikes in all of the remaining frames for a score of 258. If you are familiar with bowling scoring, had I picked up that ten pin and still struck out, my score would have been 279. The last qualifier made it into the match play round with a score of 268.

Now ask yourself, how important is picking up your spares?

You may have heard the adage “Pick up your spares and the strikes will take care of themselves” this is the honest truth; even professional bowlers do not succeed if they are not good spare shooters. In the preceding paragraph I made reference to the dreaded “ringing ten pin”, in my own bowling experience this is the pin I leave most often, and also the one I miss most often. Several years ago, when looking back at my league scores for the just completed season it struck me, that if I increased my conversion ratio of just the ten pin spares, my average would probably be 5-10 pins higher than the 193 I had just finished with. The next summer I bought a new plastic ball, to use for straight shots at the ten pin, and practiced a lot at hitting just the ten pin, my finishing average the following year was 204. Most of that increase can be attributed to concentrating on just one particular spare. Picking up your spares is the difference between being a good high average bowler, and a mediocre average bowler. Actually the difference between a 190 average and a 210 average is about one more spare per game.