Professional sports are woven into the fabric of Kansas City’s identity and landscape—you’ve got the Chiefs at Arrowhead, the Royals at Kauffman, and . . . the Stars at the Midland Theatre? For a brief period in the early 1960s, the Kansas City Stars repped K.C. in the National Bowling League, a 10-team league that was to lead up to a “World Series of bowling.” The Midland Theatre acted as the Stars’ home lanes until the league folded shortly after its founding. The Stars may not have ascended to the ranks of the Chiefs or Royals, but they’re a part of Kansas City bowling lore. Like that now-defunct team, the spare isn’t the most glamorous or celebrated shot in bowling, but it’s an integral part of the game. Here’s a simple technique to help you improve your spare, and some smooth lanes to try it out on.The Cross-Lane PrincipleUnlike strikes, spares come in all shapes and sizes, which means good bowlers should know different techniques. This requires reading the pins and being able to adapt your positioning and approach based on which pins are standing. To do this, bowlers often use the boards on the floor to position and align themselves with the pins at the other end of the lane. One go-to approach is the cross-lane principle. This implies that you want to position yourself opposite the pins. To hit a ball to the left of the lane’s center, for example, move your feet to the right of their normal starting position (and vice versa). In general, you should move three boards for each pin—for example, six boards (or about one dot) to the right if you’re aiming for the second pin to the left (number 4). Be warned: although the diagonal approach increases the likelihood of hitting a single pin, sometimes a straight shot may be needed to take care of what’s referred to as double wood, when one pin’s hiding directly behind another.Bowling Alleys in Kansas CityIf you’re counting boards and practicing your technique, a well-lit, distraction-free alley is obviously ideal. Gladstone Bowl fits the bill: it’s an award-winning spot where you can practice on well-kept lanes, compete in a league, and grab some new gear at the pro shop. If you’re closer to K.C. in Kansas and looking for a purist’s alley, check out Ranch Bowl. Kansas City also boasts an array of bowling alleys for families and bowlers of the cosmic variety.
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