Bowling Oil Patterns: What You Should Know

When you bowl do ever notice the lines on your bowling ball when they come through through ball return? That’s the oil from the bowling lane. Some lanes have so much oil on them you can see your bowling ball slip and slide down the lane andnthan finally grip towards the end. Other lanes your bowling ball seems to grip as soon as it touches the lane. Even in the same bowling alley every lane is different.

Now a good alley would try to evenly move people around on open bowl days so every lane should be as similar as possible. However, remember the the vast majority of people don’t understand the oil patterns on bowling lanes or how important they are. How many times have you seen a group with small children and when the young rolls the ball it stops about 5 feet from the foul line and an adult or older child walks right out on the lane to retrieve the ball?

Essentially ruining the oil pattern. Personally…I think when people walk on bowling lanes they should have to pay to have the oil reapplied. Maybe than they would stop doing it because knowing they could fall and hurt/embarrass themselves isn’t enough.

What oil pattern to most bowling alleys use?

The most used oil pattern is called the house pattern. This pattern is designed to make it easier for the average bowler to kick down pins by funnelling the ball towards the pocket. To make this happen, the lane machine applies a higher volume of oil to the centre of the lane and less towards the outside of the lane, near the gutters. When a ball is thrown down the middle of the lane, there is less friction between the ball and the lane making it travel across the oil faster while in a straight line for longer. When a ball is thrown away from the high concentration of oil in the middle, it’s able to hook back to the centre due to there being more friction between the ball and the lane. Most house patterns are usually 40 feet long. Also, if you want to find out the board number your ball will leave the pattern at, subtract 31 from the distance of the oil pattern. 

The top six rated bowling balls for the house pattern are; Hammer gauntlet fury, Pyramid path rising, Roto grip no rules, Brunswick twist, Roto grip show off balls, Storm code red.

What’s the hardest oil pattern in bowling?

Typically, the most known oil pattern which is considered the hardest is the US Open pattern. It features the toughest lane oil design in all of bowling. The pattern is known as a flat condition which is when there are equal amounts of oil applied on each board, gutter to gutter. The pattern is also 41 feet long which is a little bit longer than a regular oil pattern. The US Open changes their patterns every year but this is the main pattern they are known for. In this competition they only let the bowlers know the oil pattern of the lanes 30 minutes before they start which is also why this competition is so challenging.

To conquer this pattern, you need premium shot making and precise accuracy. This pattern is considered so hard that there’s only an area two inches wide in the pocket that will give a chance to get a strike. Since the oil is applied evenly, there is little chance to get any hook on the ball if you miss your target. This is why you need to be 100% accurate when bowling on a lane using this pattern. These patterns are not found in regular bowling alleys. They are specifically used for the US Open which is one of the biggest bowling competitions in the world with over 100 competitors.

How do people bowl on the US Open pattern you may ask? Well, it’s mainly down to practise. There isn’t a specific technique that will give you an advantage because the oil on the lane is the same volume everywhere. The only way to get decent hook on the ball is to rotate your hands when you release the ball as well as flicking your fingers up to cause rotation on the ball. Even then, the ball won’t hook massively, so the best way the play on this surface is the bowl straight at your target with precise accuracy.

For this oil pattern, there isn’t a specific type of ball that would be best suited to the lane. This is because firstly, the lane is flat and secondly, it’s usually only played on by professionals and these bowlers all use different types of balls depending on their, strength, technique and preference.

What’s the longest oil pattern in bowling?

The longest oil pattern in bowling is called the badger and it’s 52 feet long. This pattern covers 603 boards and uses 30.15ml which is significantly more than a standard oil pattern. When bowling on this pattern you need to play straight keeping your break point closer to the pocket. This pattern is suited for bowlers who don’t use much hook. This is because since the pattern is so long, the ball doesn’t have much time after it leaves the oil to hook. Some players will bowl specifically on a certain area of the lane to get rid of as much oil as they can to create a pathway, they can use to get a better angle and shot on the pocket. This pattern is not used very much because it is simply too long for casual players and professionals to play on. 

On patterns like these that aren’t used too often, it is very hard to know what type of ball to use. Most people recommend to use benchmark equipment because it conserves energy allowing the ball to create an angle after it’s left the oil. If you use a stronger ball, you will have earlier motion which is not suitable for this oil pattern because you won’t be able to create a good entry angle since all the balls energy has been used.

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