Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Single Pin Spares

In this post, I do two things. First, I look at the relative frequency of single pin spares meaning which single pins are most frequently left standing. Then, I look at our stats on picking up single pin spares over the sixteen weeks on record.

Since I started recording spares, I have observed 188 single pin spares. I would estimate that 85-90% of these were produced by right-handed bowlers. Indeed, strong handedness effects are evident in the relative frequency of single pin spares. In this sample, pins on the right side are always more likely to remain than their mirror image pins on the left. Presumably, the opposite would be true for left handed bowlers.


The bar and bubble graphs above show the relative frequency of all possible single pin spares. In the bubble graph, the bigger the bubble, the more comon the spare. What's the most common single pin left standing? It's easily the 10 pin. It accounts for slightly more than 25% of single pin spares observed. Of course this is a tough pin to pick up if you are a righty and you throw with spin. It can be tricky to spin it into the back right corner. It is followed by the 5, 6, and 7 pins. The least common single pins to be left standing are the 2, 8, and 1. Out of 188 single pin spares recorded, only two involved a solitary 1 pin.

What does this mean? Well, if you want to improve your single pin pickup rate and you are right handed, you need to master bringing the ball down the right side of the lane. Approximately 75% of the single pin spares you leave will involve pins from the center line to the right edge, and 1 of 4 will be the 10 pin. If you are a lefty, you need to master the left.

The graph above shows our team pickup percentage for single pin spares (SP%). As with all of our statistics, SP% fluctuates wildly. Our worst SP% on record is 35.7% from December 8. Our best occured on February 16 when we successfully recorded 68% of our single pin chances. In total, we have had 448 single pin spare opportunities, and we have picked up 230 of those for an average of 51.3%. If you examine the general trend, improvement is evident. SP% has improved on average about 1% every two weeks. If we keep this up, toward the end of next season, we should be picking these up at approximately a 70% clip as a team.

Looking at SP% bowler by bowler, they pattern in predictable ways. Johnebob has had the most success followed by myself, Joe, and then Geoff. While there are clear differences between bowlers, it is interesting that less than 10% separates the best from the worst Movement in this category. Still, there is a lot of room for improvement for everyone.

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