Scott Pohl

Bowling Tournament Preperation

Scott Pohl
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Duration:   2  mins

Tournament bowling is more difficult than league bowling in a number of ways. More prize money, more competitive bowlers, and trickier oil patterns just to name a few.

Sometimes the tournament releases the lane sheet and you can prepare ahead of time and other tournaments, well, don’t.

In this video, Scott Pohl, owner of On Track Pro Shop, helps you prepare for your next tournament.


If you do know the pattern, review first to see if you have bowled on this pattern before. If you haven’t, is it similar to one you have bowled? What about the bowling center, are you familiar with it?

Knowing answers to these questions help you make ball choice decisions, where to target and where the break point is located.

Pattern length, breakpoint and ball choice

Short to medium length patterns are between 35ft – 40ft.

You’re going to use medium to weaker bowling balls. The ball needs to get further down the lane because the pattern isn’t very long.

If you’re bowling on a 40ft pattern, using the rule of 31 has us subtract 31 from 40.

The pattern’s breakpoint will be the 9 board 40 feet down the lane. The oil pattern stops at 40ft while the friction begins there.

For right-handed bowlers, this is where the bowling ball begins to make its left turn towards the headpin.

If the pattern distance is 35ft, the breakpoint is going to be even further outside (4 board).

When bowling short to medium length lane patterns you have more time for the ball to leave the end of the pattern and still hit the pocket.

The opposite happens when bowling on medium or longer patterns 40ft and beyond.

Medium to stronger types of bowling balls are used when the pattern is longer because there is not as much friction down at the end of the pattern.

With the break point being further inside, you don’t have as much room to miss to the right (right-handed bowler) and bring it back to the pocket so this means you need to keep angles a little straighter.

Knowing all of this, what happens when you don’t know the oil pattern?

You want to find trouble spots to throw the bowling ball, otherwise known in golf as the sand traps.

Obviously, you can’t see them on the lanes, so you have to figure it out during practice time.

Start further outside. Throw one at five board or at ten board. You’ll find out right away if that’s a spot you can or can’t throw the ball.

When throwing this shot, start with more of a medium benchmark reaction.

This is going to give you a consistent feel for the lane. If it’s in play, try to keep your breakpoint at ten or even further inside to determine if it’s a longer pattern. Remember, a shorter pattern will play closer to the gutter.

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