When on challenging oil patterns, do you ever wonder why your ball seems to be hooking early and not finishing as hard as usual?

On a THS(typical house shot), the oil is applied significantly less towards the outer portion of the lane and drastically increased on the inner portion of the lane. On a THS, you can always migrate towards the inner portion of the lane to find more skid. This increased skid allows for the ball to float easier down the lane into the drier boards to the outside and in the back end of the lane.

This is NOT the case in many challenging or sport compliant patterns, the oil is placed more evenly upon the lane. This puts a great demand on accuracy and speed repetition also known as shot making.

As you bowl on these challenging patterns, the lane is far less forgiving and more importantly far less of a static environment. The lane is ever changing, every ball that goes down the lane alters the playing field. As more and more balls travel down the lane, they will absorb oil from the first 1/3 of the lane (the heads) at a far faster rate than they do the rest of the lane. Why is this? There is MORE oil placed in the heads. Wherever there is the most oil, more will be absorbed by today’s bowling balls. The more oil that is used, the less static that environment becomes due to ball traffic.

As the traffic dissipates the oil in the heads, your ball may start to do some unexpected things, it can hook early and seem to just wiggle as it travels into the back portion of the lane. When this happens there are a few adjustments that can be made-

  1. You can change to a less aggressive ball and keep your trajectory angles a bit tighter.
  2. You can move farther to the inside portion of the lane, with the same ball, and use more of an open angle, and LOWER ball speed to go around those trouble spots that you are encountering.
  3. This is by far the most difficult, but also most effective- Bowlers who have naturally more axis rotation and reduced axis tilt, are not as susceptible to this particular lane play issue. Imagine a bowler like, Pete Weber, who has a very high amount of axis rotation with a very low axis tilt.

The reason why increased rotation and lower tilt works when the heads start to go away and the oil down-lane has not is track circumference. The more of your ball that comes in contact with the lane bed before it makes a complete rotation, the less sensitive it is to oil/dry differences. The ball has a truer roll to it.

It might seem counter-intuitive to think that a ball that rolls heavier would not hook as early on a dry lane as a ball that spins, but it is a fact. A ball that spins(increased tilt and reduced rotation) loses its energy far faster than the heavier rolling ball. Spin burns off at a drastically increased rate than how roll burns off.

So next time you are encountering these issues, take a look around at which bowler is succeeding. WATCH their ball roll down the lane, not their particular style, just the ball itself. There is a lot to be learned if you allow yourself to learn it!