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Different Lane Types And Oil Patterns 1/24/2017

The sport of bowling is evolving daily. Bowlers are faced with new challenges through modified oil patterns and lane materials, which brings an added dimension to league or tournament play.

The surface of the lane that you are bowling on is more important than ever to determine how you will attack the lanes and ball selection. The three types of lane surfaces are wood, synthetic and overlay (also known as “guardian” or ”lane shield”).

The classic or traditional bowling surface is the Wooden Lane. Wooden lanes use pine on the last 45 feet of the lane, which due to its softness is a higher friction material for a bowling ball to travel over. The softness of pine allows the ball to slow down earlier on the lane and enter its hook phase sooner than on a synthetic lane. Generally, coverstocks that are less aggressive tend to work best due to their ability to extend the skid phase through the first 20 feet of the lane.

Synthetic lane surfaces are typically lower friction when compared to wood, so stronger equipment is recommended in addition to increased rev rate, and lower rotation and ball speed.

The Guardian lane surface is the softest lane surface used today, which means the skid phase will be reduced and your ball will hook earlier. Similar to wood lanes, switching to a less aggressive coverstock is advised in order to extend the skid phase. Lane Shield has a surface that has a slightly higher friction than synthetic lanes, and could require a wide range of equipment to use, depending on the oil pattern used.

Shorter oil patterns that are 36-feet in length or less will have more friction on the backend with less oil in the middle of the lane. Two-handed bowlers will typically migrate to plastic or urethane coverstock bowling balls in order to counter the lower oil volume throughout the ball’s motion on the lane. Typically reactive resin equipment will over-react, leading to poor pin carry and inconsistent hits to the pocket. More aggressive equipment is typically reserved until the oil carries down.

Medium oil patterns allow us to have access to large variety of equipment, from anything really high performance to urethane. Medium patterns allow two-handers to play anywhere on the lane with a wide range of equipment. On a medium length pattern the break point should be between the eight and twelve boards down lane.

Long oil patterns are 42 feet and longer. A two-hander will want the ball to get started quicker, so throwing something higher performance is ideal to start. A midlane read with backend continuation on long patterns is ideal. Breakpoints on longer patterns will be anywhere from the 11 board all the way to the 22 board with the 22 board being for the PBA Badger Pattern.

Learning how to read the lanes and decide which ball to throw at what time is certainly a science. It is fun discovering the challenge and figuring out these issues. Remember to practice as much as you can on these different conditions to see what works best for you. Be sure to check some of my other articles on these and many other two-handed helpful hints.

Hello everyone and greetings from the Bowling Mecca of the World, also known as Las Vegas! My name is Nick Pollak. I am 18 years old and I’m a two-handed bowler as well as a USBC Bronze level coach. I am thankful to have been invited to join the team to write about the sport I love. I look forward to sharing many articles with you and hope to interact with many of you to get feedback and topic ideas you would like to see.

Did I mention I am a two hander? I wasn't always but that all changed in January of 2015 when my one-handed mechanics became a tremendous liability. For each and every one of my fellow two-handers, it should be noted that we are all different in our styles of approach, rev rate, speed and release. I look forward to sharing my perspective of the sport I love, as a competitive bowler and as a two-hander.


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