Beginner Skill Development


Lesson 4 - Making Spares


The 3-6-9 System

Use the chart below to assist you with how to align yourself when trying to pick up spares. Be advised that the chart is set up for right handed bowlers. Left handers need to reverse the numbers. Let's assume you are throwing a straight ball and standing on the 15 board. (See Lesson #1) Your target on the lane is the #2 Arrow. Your target arrow remains the same for this system of shooting spares. If you are trying to pick up the 5 pin, you will not make any adjustment with your feet. For the 2 pin, you will move your feet 3 boards to the right so you are now standing on board #12. Using the chart below, you can see where you need to stand to pick up spares on any part of the lane.


Single Pin Conversion
1 (5)
2 (8)
3 (9)
Adjustment on Approach
3 Boards Right
6 Boards Right
9 Boards Right
3 Boards Left
6 Boards Left
9 Boards Left



The 3-6-9 system of shooting spares is just one method that has proven to be successful with beginning bowlers and those who rely primarily on a straight ball. As you acquire the skill of hooking the ball, this 3-6-9 system may need to be adjusted.

Using Experience and Bowling Sense

Under normal lane conditions, the spare shooting system above should result in success. However, the pattern of oil on the lanes may change making conventional adjustments ineffective. A straight ball will overcome difficult conditions when shooting spares and is much more desirable when shooting at corner pin spares. The ability to throw a curve ball for strikes and a straight ball for spares is the mark of an experienced bowler.


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