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How To Understand USBC Red Oil Pattern


If you are trying to learn how to understand USBC Red Pattern lane condition, then all you have to do is know that any house lane condition is considered to be a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Red Pattern unless otherwise indicated as a Blue Pattern or White Pattern condition. The USBC Red Pattern is designed to provide the greatest amount of bowling ball delivery forgiveness of any pattern approved by the USBC.  The Red Pattern is found most typically in the vast majority of bowling centers today.

To learn how to understand USBC Red Pattern lane condition is to simply know that the Red Pattern yield the highest pace of scoring in comparison to the Blue and White Patterns which are also approved for use by bowling centers for league and tournament competitions.  Let's discuss briefly specifics of the Red Pattern.

With a high concentration, or volume of oil, applied in the center portion of the front ends of a lane, the Red Pattern allows bowlers to find more oil toward the center of the lane surface when they release their bowling balls than toward the edges of the lane.  The outside boards of the lane, or the portions of the lane nearest the lane edges are, therefore, the driest boards with little oil applied on the lane surface in those areas.  The outside edges of the lane are also the highest friction portions on the front end of the lane which encourage the bowling ball to gain traction and begin rolling or hooking sooner than when traveling in the heavy concentration of oil.

With more oil in the center portion of the front end of the lane and less oil toward the outside boards, a bowler can, if properly aligned, miss the intended target and the bowling ball will still result in hitting the pocket rewarding the bowler with a very good chance of producing a strike.  The Red Pattern is sometimes referred to as a "wet/dry" condition, a "block" condition, or an "over/under" condition implying that there is a great amount of oil in the center of the lane and a very small amounts toward the edges with little or no blend of oil to separate both extreme friction factors.

The Red Pattern, of course, is the least challenging of the three approved patterns by USBC for use in sanctioned bowling centers.  A given bowling center's standard house condition is the Red Pattern. Any pattern not considered a Blue or White Pattern will be considered a Red Pattern by default.

The Red Pattern does not make any specific provisions for the distance the oil is applied to the lane surface.  Normally, the application of oil ranges from a distance of 35 feet to 45 feet total distance where the lane machine no longer buffs in oil on the lane surface and where the dry boards begin across the entire lane on the back end of the lane.

The shorter the distance oil is applied to the lane surface, the closer to the edge the bowling ball travels before reaching the break point and beginning it's movement toward the pocket. The longer the distance oil is applied to the lane surface, the nearer the break point is to the center of the lane and the less overall distance a ball has to travel on the dry back end of the lane and the less the ball will hook.

Alignment is the key to success for any bowler.  After making an good initial alignment to the pocket on strike ball deliveries, an errant delivery will usually end up hitting the pocket on the Red Pattern because missing slightly inside the intended target will produce a long ball skid due to the concentration of oil in the center of the lane.  The ball will hold its line and contact the pocket.

If the bowler misses the intended line toward the edge of the lane, then the dry boards,the high friction portion of lane surface, will help the ball to recover and hook back to contact the pocket.  This is certainly one key reason the Red Pattern yields the highest pace of scoring compared to other patterns sanctioned by USBC, the ability of errant deliveries to hit the pocket.

While visiting bowlingball.com, take some time to check out the Perfect Scale® ball rating feature which helps bowlers compare bowling balls by leading manufacturers and how they can match with various lane conditions including the Red Pattern. Also, by referring to the "Drilling Layouts" feature found on the home page, layout options are suggested by the manufacturers for the latest bowling balls in today's market including diagrams of the layouts.  Finally, please consult a certified instructor or local bowling professional to learn more about the the Red Pattern lane conditions.

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