How to be creative in practicing spares


Mike Hawkins Bowling Columnist


By Mike Hawkins

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The great Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, is credited with saying "Practice does not make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect." And believe it or not, perfect bowling practice does not include tossing strike after strike.

Challenging yourself to try new things when practicing will keep your time on the lanes interesting, as well as help you to see the lane differently while developing your skills. This week, I will share a few challenges you can do on your own or with your friends when practicing.

The first interesting challenge I recently found originated from an old basketball shooting game the neighborhood kids used to love to play, “Around the World.” In the basketball version, a player would start under the basket, then move around the key, until a shot was missed. Then the shooter would resume his trip around the key and back until he had returned back to the starting point.

In the bowling version, “The Game of Arrows”, the goal is to roll a strike, crossing each arrow, in order. I would suggest allowing yourself a board on either side of the target error as a standard measure of error.

In order to roll a strike over each arrow, the bowler is going to have to make some adjustments, a strategy many bowlers have a difficult time accepting. By moving their feet laterally on the approach and hitting the same arrow, the bowler will notice a different outcome of the shot when it reaches the pins.

If a bowler is practicing on a pair of lanes, he must strike on both lanes from the same arrow, to advance to the next target. The final obstacle in this drill is Brooklyn strikes, do not count. The bowler must carry his pocket to advance in the challenge.

The next practice drill I recently came across is the Cherry-Pick challenge. This game goes along with the low score wins game, where the challenge is to take out only the 7-pin on the first ball, before converting the nine pin spare.

The next frame, the bowler scores only the 10-pin before converting the rest of the rack. If the bowler is precise enough to complete the entire game of a 1 count followed by a spare, the final score would be 110. That would be a practice game worthy of bragging about! If a bowler masters this challenge, corner pin spares will become the easiest of all time.

My final practice suggestion is known as the “Sparing Challenge”.

This game is a sequence of five consecutive shots, with all five having to be completed in order. Using his spare ball, the bowler first must hit the 6-pin without hitting the 3-pin. Following that shot, the bowler must hit the 4 pin, without touching the 2-pin.

These two shots are followed by taking out the 3 and 2 pins consecutively without hitting the head pin, following all this with a strike. Altogether, to complete this challenge successfully, would take just three frames of your practice time; a small price to pay to improve your much needed spare game.

A couple of guys who have a nice spare game, but didn’t need it much last week were Bobby Winslow and David Ange. Bowling during the Martin Luther King league last Thursday, Winslow connected on a regular basis for a massive 268-742 session, while Ange nearly stroked perfection for a 279-723 outing! Both bowler’s scores were the highest recorded during MLK this season.

Lindsay Perry’s 593 series and Chris Farrell’s 231 game wrapped up the men’s high scores last Thursday.

Debbie Winslow (213-548), Brittney Gaumond (182-531), and Leonora Vactor (152 game) paced the ladies of MLK.

Fellowship League was the place to be if you wanted to see some the biggest collection of awesome bowling last week as the league again posted a total of six 600-plus series and nearly had more.

Mark Tarkington connected on 21 strikes during the night and closed by converting the 3-4-7-10 split to secure a 266 game and 673 series. Meanwhile, Paul Lacher was matching Tarkington’s strike total while bagging a 277-672 session.

David Ange added a 227-628, while Brian Puhl’s 273 game only trailed Lacher’s 277 single game effort. Garry Williams’ 241-618, Ronnie Barefoot’s 230-613, and Jeffrey Barefoot’s 217-601 closed out the men who tackled the 600 goal.

Brittney Gaumond’s 219-597 nearly joined the 600 attack, while Bobbi Jo Tarkington added a nice 180-510.

After pounding the pocket for a season-high 698 last two weeks ago, Will Swinson crushed the pins again last week for a 259-714 to dominate the Monday Night Mixed League.

Swinson finished a cool 100 pins ahead of the nearest man, Boris Beatty, who tallied a still impressive 248-614. Rondell Christian followed with a 211-595, while Jeremy Beasley added a nice 224 top game.

Debbie Winslow assumed her frequent top spot among the Monday night ladies, pitching a cool 193-556. Sharon Hoffler’s 179-505 series trailed only Winslow on the ladies side. Leonora Vactor added a 185 high game to join the top ladies’ scores.

Most of the ladies-only league high scores came from Thursday morning’s All American Ladies League where Stella Miller’s 175-475 and Mary Beasley’s 165-470 topped all, followed by Patsy Sanders’ 158-430.

Patsy (175-449) also claimed the top game from Wednesday evening’s Albemarle Rollers. Pamela Griffin’s 161-450 took the top series, to go along with Sharon Hoffler’s 156-434.

Jacob Davenport had some pins and heads spinning Saturday morning as he struck and spared himself to new high scores for the season with a 178 game and 516 series. His 516 was the top series this weekend for all youth bowlers and exceeded his previous high this year by 50 pins! Great job, Jacob!

Joining Jacob in leading the guys were Ben Hawkins with a 188-503, Christopher Vinson with a 491 series, and Thomas Adams with a 182 game.

The girls were topped by Lindsay Porter (138-398), Elizabeth Scaff (148-355), and Violet Olds (111-314).

Another amazing feat was accomplished by Kaylee Winslow during the youth league when the 101 average bowler bowled a triplicate series of … you guessed it, matching 101 scores!

Be sure to check here next week when I’ll be sharing a story about a youth team who will be bowling for a cure while on their upcoming state tournament trip.

Until next week, good luck and good bowling!