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Understanding Bowling Lane Oil for Beginners

Understanding key facts about bowling lane oil can be useful for experienced bowlers, but also very important for new bowlers. Like any science, there are facts which are more important than others.

Lane oil is simply a lubricant which protects the lane surface from the enormous friction a bowling ball generates when delivered at a relatively high speed down any given lane.

Because it is important to protect the lane surface from excessive wear caused by potential friction points, maintenance teams use lane oil to both lubricate the lane surface and create specific ratios and distances of oil application to help guide bowlers to hit their targets.

As oil moves on the surface of the lane as a result of the bowling ball passing through a given area on the lane repeatedly, the oil applied to the front end of the lane separates and then closes after the ball passes through until such a time when the break-down in lubricity occurs.

This process causes the breakdown characteristic we see when our bowling ball begins to hook sooner than before oil breakdown occurred.


Remember, adjustments for oil carrydown and breakdown vary based on a given bowler’s delivery style

Knowing where to initially align yourself for strikes and spares is important so you give yourself a fair chance at using the lane oil to help guide your ball to your spot on the lane and ultimately to hit the pocket when bowling for strikes.

The lane oil can also help guide your ball at spares located anywhere across the lane.

It is important, however, to learn an alignment adjustment system to hit the pocket when the oil pattern changes or to convert spares.

Lane oil can be your friend in getting your ball to react predictably when in motion. It can also work against you attaining a controllable ball reaction if you mis-align yourself and work against the oil pattern.

Playing the lanes starts with understanding that you must first locate the area of the lane where the ratio and distance of oil application helps your ball react properly. Positioning yourself on the approach properly and using a corresponding sighting mark on the lane is part of developing an alignment and adjustments system.

It is recommended to consult and use the services of an experienced bowling instructor to help you develop your game, align to the pocket, and to build a reliable spare shooting system.