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Lane Play For Two-Handed Bowlers

bowlingball.com 2/9/2017

Lane play is a critical part in today’s game. Today’s high performance bowling balls have a greater effect on lane conditions due to the absorption of oil. This removes more oil from the lane and creates a faster and greater rate of transition during 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 which ball you will use. The three types of lane surfaces are wood, synthetic and overlay (guardian/lane shield). Due to the overall softness of wood lanes, mostly the pine wood last 45 feet of the lane, this is considered a high friction surface. This will cause the ball to slow down faster and get to the hook phase earlier on the lane. Generally, medium to weaker coverstocks tend to work best due to their ability to increase the skid phase during the first 20 feet of the lane.

Synthetic lane surfaces are typically lower in strength, so stronger equipment is recommended with increased rev rate and/or decreased ball speed.

Guardian lane surfaces are the softest of all the lane surfaces. This means the skid phase will be less, and your ball will hook earlier. Just like wood lanes, you will need medium to weaker coverstocks on your bowling equipment. Laneshield is the second lowest friction surface behind synthetic. Two-handed bowlers tend to use all ranges of equipment depending on the pattern used.

Recreational patterns are designed to give the bowling ball easier access to the 1-3 pocket, or 1-2 pocket if you are a left handed bowler. They are often referred to as “typical house shots” and sometimes THS. There will be a higher concentration of oil in the center with free hook to the outside part of the lane. Some recreational patterns are the USBC Red, White and Blue patterns, which are a slightly more challenging than the typical house shot. The USBC Red pattern will give you the greatest amount of forgiveness. The USBC White is a bit tougher with a smaller ratio of oil from inside to out, and while the USBC Blue is slightly easier than sport conditions, it’s more challenging than the white.

Sport patterns are laid out at most competitive sport/challenge leagues and tournaments all around the United States and worldwide today. These patterns will range anywhere from 32 to 54 feet, and will be different shapes. Remember, the lower the oil ratio, the more difficult the pattern will be. A typical house shot ratio can be anywhere from 7:1 to 8:1 or maybe even greater. Sport shot patterns ratios will vary from recreational to challenge and also includes all the PBA and WTBA patterns as well. These ratios will start out at 3:1-4:1 all the way to a flat even pattern at 1:1. Short patterns are 36 feet and lower, medium is 37 to 41 feet, and long is 42 feet or more.

For patterns 36 feet and less, we will see more friction on the backend and less hold will be in the middle. Two-handed bowlers will migrate towards plastic or possibly urethane, as reactive resin is typically too strong for short patterns until transition could possibly allow for something stronger to move in.

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 what they want to use. On a medium pattern the break point should be between the eight and twelve boards down lane.

Long patterns will be 42 feet and longer. A two-hander will want the ball to get started quicker, so throwing something higher performance is ideal to start. It is ideal to get the ball to read in the middle part of the lane while still maintaining excellent backend continuation. 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.

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 on these different conditions and 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 bowlingball.com 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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