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Bowling Highlights

Bowling lane patterns

Ed Townsend
Posted 2/25/22

Bowling lane patterns and the PBA Lane Maintenance program exist to balance the many complicated variables associated with cleaning and conditioning lanes during the multi-day PBA …

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Bowling Highlights

Bowling lane patterns


Bowling lane patterns and the PBA Lane Maintenance program exist to balance the many complicated variables associated with cleaning and conditioning lanes during the multi-day PBA Tournaments.

Bowling lane maintenance also has a great effect on open bowling and league bowling in our local bowling establishments.

For all regular events on the PBA Tour, PBA Regional Tour, and PBA50 Tour, one or more of the PBA patterns will be used at any given tournament.

These patterns make up the Official Playing Conditions of the PBA Tour, while local bowling lanes establish lane conditions for local leagues.

The Animal Patterns used by the PBA include the Bear, Chameleon, Cheetah, Dragon, Scorpion, Shark, Viper and the Wolf.

Now that, in a nutshell, is what bowlers must compete with during their leagues and in tournament competition.

Have you ever wondered what that shiny residue you have on your bowling ball is? Well, it's the oil your ball has picked up from the lane.

We will attempt to explain where the oil comes from.

If you take a good look at your bowling alley's lanes, you will see they are usually always shiny.

So, are all bowling oil patterns the same? Of course not.

Once you look at the lane carefully, you can see that some are glowing and have well-polished sparkles on them, some worn out oil, and some have no oil on them.

So what makes them different from each other and how do they impact your bowling performance?

Let's look at bowling oil patterns.

The bowling center you go bowling at with your friends and family has a lane machine, which is a special machine that is used to put oil on the lanes. The machine is programmed to distribute oil in a specific pattern and how much oil to put down and where.

The oil you see is not actually spread across the lane evenly. Typically, you will see the machine applies more oil in the middle of the lane than it does on the outside of the lane. It is mainly done this way to help you with perfect hooking, so your ball does not roll toward the outside and goes into the gutter.

The oil keeps the ball right on spot and then allows the ball to hit the pins with expected force and knock them down.

An interesting fact here is that league bowling and professional bowlers use different patterns when they bowl, and based on the bowling oil, patterns are mainly divided into two categories.

The first one is called the “House Pattern”, used by recreational or league bowlers, and these are designed for a bigger margin of error and are also comparatively easier to control and play on.

The other type of bowling is called the “Sport Bowling,” used by professional or highly skilled bowlers and are designed for no room for error. Professional bowlers at times find some difficulties adjusting to these oil patterns.

League bowlers get to know the pattern they bowl on and understanding the surface of a bowling ball is much easier when you have an idea about the lanes you're about to play on. Learning your oil pattern will make you a better bowler.

Ed's Outlook

For many years, this columnist interviewed Sullivan County men bowlers with high averages who had expressed a desire to bowl in the U.S. Open PBA tournament.

Since many of these bowlers knew I had attended and reported on many of these tournaments, they would call me and ask questions about lane conditions and procedures set in place for bowling in these PBA tournaments.

I was always very honest with them and suggested that PBA lane conditions were very tough, and without being able to practice on these conditions, these 200 plus average bowlers would probably end up with 160 to 170 averages bowling on the PBA tournament patterns.

So many of these bowlers would return home to say I was right about the tough PBA lane pattern and that overall they could only average around the 165 average I had predicted.

Bowlers should find ways to practice on different lane patterns before going to the tournament.

Bowling Tip by Mike Luongo

One of the first steps after you decide that you want to take up the sport is choosing the type of bowling ball that best fits your style of bowling.

The first and foremost thing you are going to do is choose the right bowling ball for yourself.

This can be tricky, but here is what you need to know.

It is important to go to a pro shop and talk to a professional.

Make sure you pick up a bowling ball and check its weight. If it is too light, it will not be effective since a little force might make it go out of control.

Also, make sure it is not too heavy either because in that case, it will become too heavy to maneuver. You must pick a ball that perfectly fits in your hand and you can easily control it without facing any difficulty.

Now comes the step of holding the ball. If you have chosen the right weighted bowling ball, you will not face any problem while holding it.

Also be careful that you choose the best throwing hand, the hand you are most comfortable throwing the bowling ball with.

Our next lesson will deal with making the right approach and choosing your throwing angle. 


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