Bowling Glossary: Leaving Buckets

A Bucket Is a Specific Kind of Spare

If you watch enough bowling, you've seen and heard people talk about buckets. What is a bucket? It is defined as specific spare leave, four pins in the shape of a diamond. Most bowlers distinguish between a right-handed bucket and a left-handed bucket. That is, for righties, the bucket is the 2-4-5-8. For lefties, the bucket is the 3-5-6-9.

The 1-2-3-5 is the only other leave in the same shape, but it is not commonly referred to as a bucket.

As with any leave, the goal is to pick up the spare. Most bowlers throw at a bucket using their normal hook shots, adjusting their positioning to have the ball hit the bucket in the same way they attempt to hit the pocket on their first shots. has some advice on handling these tricky leaves. It advises that both the hook and the straight ball are good strategies on the 3-5-6-9 bucket, landing dead on the 3 pin, with the hook a bit more to the right than the straight throw. For the 2-4-5-8 bucket, even more difficult to pick up, the website says the hook ball is the best strategy because it is less likely to be deflected by the 8 pin.

If this proves to be daunting, you can work to improve your strike proficiency. It's always better to roll a strike on the first shot and avoid having to throw at any spare and get the job done in one throw.