Bowler's Reference
Reading (Listening to) The Lanes

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Reading the Lanes

Conditions change.  Bowling, just as they do when driving your car.  In order to get to your destination safely and most efficiently requires your attention to conditions that exist. 

The problem is, conditions, during bowling, are much less visible.  In fact, most bowlers have little idea on how to read lane conditions.  Unlike driving a car, there are no signs in place to inform you.  Well, actually if you think about it, there are signs, but most often your competitor keeps that secret.

The Secret

There are several secrets of bowling.  The primary secret is that most bowlers don't listen very well.

Oh, sure, they talk about where to stand, what to target, and how they think conditions are.  But, what they don't do very well is to listen to what the lanes are telling them.

Lane dressing oil is applied to the lanes primarily to keep bowlers from wearing grooves in the lanes. The application of oil is applied between the foul line and several feet beyond the foul line.  Oil is applied in patterns that determine how the bowler selects their arsenal of balls, how they align and set targets, and how they approach and release their ball.  But, from that time forward, whatever bowlers think is on the lane simply changes.

As balls are rolled down the lanes, balls pick up some of that oil, and the lane pattern changes due to the lessening amount of oil all along the ball track.  To make thing worse, the oil picked up by the ball is spread down the lanes as it leaves the oil pattern, and that is called "carry down."  So, in the end analysis, oil is removed from where it was originally, to areas that were once dry.  In other words, the pattern changes.

Bowlers try to get the ball to roll into the strike pocket at a 6° (six degree angle). The secret is to figure out how to roll your ball it rolls back into the pins somewhere along that 6° line into the pocket.

What You Know

First, you have developed, and  know your own game.  You have developed a trusted targeting system based on what you know about the initial lane conditions.

Secondly, you understand that lane conditions change as you and other bowlers modify (adulterate) the oil pattern and carrydown.

Third, you watch the ball reaction along your ball path.  You post your shot to determine if you need to change your equipment, release, speed, loft or targeting line.  (You do this, don't you?)

If you do the first three steps, what you need is a guide on how to interpret the information, and make sound decisions.

 How closely do you watch where your ball makes the transition from skid, through the hook phase, into a roll?

So, how do I Read The Lanes?

Where does the ball enter the pins?

If you were to draw a single, straight line from your release point to the strike pocket, you can estimate that if your ball crosses over the arrows at two points, one inch (1") apart, the resultant paths will be four inches (4") apart at the pins. 

This estimation is based on rough figures, but since the arrows are 15 feet from the foul line, and the pins are 60 feet from the foul line, that the difference is multiplied 4 times.  Now, mathematically, since these lines are triangulated, the difference is closer to 3.3 as much.  So, a 1" adjustment at the arrows will change the path by 3.3" at the pins.

Basic Rules

There are four basic rules for adjusting to lane condition changes:

1.  Move in the direction of the Error - If the ball is missing to the right, move to the right in the stance.  If the ball is missing to the left, move to the left.  Use the same target out on the lane and open or close your shoulders in relation to your target.

Open your shoulders when you adjust toward the inside of the lane, and close your shoulders when you adjust toward the outside of the lane.

2.  Never make an adjustment based on a poor shot.

3.  Move early, and admit mistakes - More proficient bowlers adjust quickly to changes.  They can't afford errant frames.  And upon recognizing the adjustment was wrong, they quickly admit errors.

4.  Watch more advanced bowlers.  Their line may not be the same as yours, but they should give you clues as to how to adjust.

Hint 1 - On the Nose  If, instead of entering the pin deck at the 171/2 board and his hitting on the nose, you may want to consider a 1 board adjustment.  The pin is roughly 43/4" wide, and from the pocket at the 171/2  board plus 3.3" would place the ball at the 21 board.

Hint 2 - Leaving a Corner Pin

When the ball-side corner pin is left standing, most often the ball needs to enter the pocket just a bit higher.

Instead of entering the pins at the 171/2 board, the ball may be just to the outside of that target.

a. You may want to consider a 6" to 12" backward adjustment with your feet.

b. Consider releasing the ball with a bit less loft on your ball to get it into the slide a bit earlier.

c.  Consider slowing your ball down a bit using one of the many techniques for this change.

The opposite adjustment may be appropriate for a non-ball-side corner pin leave.




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