Spare in bowling

When you’re just starting out with bowling, you’ll get to know many new terms which might seem very confusing to you in the beginning. One of those terms which you must have often heard in the alley is ‘Spare’. Though it is quite easy to understand what a spare is, the pointing system of a spare often puzzles up most people.

but don’t worry, that’s what this whole article is about, I’ll give you a brief overview of spares in a very simple manner, and talk about how points are calculated in it with examples because while in most cases you can directly count the pins knocked down in each frame individually but spare give you some bonus points which often muddle new bowlers.

What is a Spare in Bowling?

A spare occurs in bowling when all the 10 pins get knocked down on your second throw/chance (a player uses both of his frames to knock all the pins). The symbol of spare is ‘/’. A spare awards the player 10 points, these points are also added in the first throw of your next frame as a bonus.

A spare is basically when some pins are still left standing after your first throw but on your second throw, you’re able to knock all of them i.e you use both of your chances to knock all the pins.

Let’s say you knocked down 8 pins in your first chance, and then in your second chance, you’re able to knock the rest 2 pins hence after these two throws, no pin is left standing, congratulations! you’ve successfully scored ba spare.

How Many Points For a Spare in Bowling?

A spare is worth 10 points as you knock down 10 pins while as a bonus these 10 points also get added on your first shot of the next frame. While the second shot of this frame will be counted the normal way.

Let’s understand it better with an example:

Frame No. Ball NumberPins KnockedPoints Scored
Frame 1 Ball 1 / First throw 66
Frame 1 Ball 2 / Second throw 4/ (spare as you knocked a total of all the 10 pins in two chances)
Frame 2 Ball 1 / First throw 76+4+7 = 17 (as earlier you scored a split)
Frame 2 Ball 1 / First throw 11+7 = 8 (total no. of pins you knocked)
Total points in this frame = 17 + 8 = 18

I hope now you’ve got a better understanding of how the point system work in a spare.

If a person scores a spare in the last frame (tenth frame), then the player is rewarded with an extra throw for even more bonus points.

What is a Blow?

Failing to score a spare i.e when pins are still left standing even after the second ball is thrown, then the shot is termed as a blow. Basically, apart from a spare and a strike, every shot in bowling is a blow.

Is Spare the Same As Strike?


A strike is when you knock down all ten pins during the first ball in a frame while a spare is when you fail to knock them all in the first throw but manage to knock all the pins during the second ball of a frame. A strike is indicated with an ‘X’ while a spare is indicated with a ‘/’.

What is a Split?

A Split is referred to the arrangement of the pins after throwing the first ball in a frame.

Sometimes, the arrangement of the pins after the first throw (split) gets too difficult to be able to turn into a spare.

You might think the 7-10 (two corner pin) left might be the hardest split ever but statistically, it isn’t.

Here are the hardest splits ever in bowling which will be quite difficult for you to turn into a spare. (source)

Tips to Score Better Spares

Missing spares can be the killer of your game and may result in low scores. Thus you must know the right approach for shooting a spare. For that, I highly recommend watching the video below where Shanon who is a PWBA player has explained the right technique for shooting a spare briefly.


A spare is when you knock down all ten pins during the second ball of a frame.

Spare is denoted by a forward-slash ‘/’

You get 10 points in a spare while these 10 points are also added to the points you score on the first ball of the next frame.

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