How Does Oil Distance and Volume Impact Lane Play?

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Duration: 1:57

Tournament conditions generally have a ratio of 3:1, meaning that there is three times the amount of oil in the middle than the outside part of the lane. The typical house shot is 10:1.

The big difference is the room for error. When you miss to the outside on a house shot it will come back and when you pull the ball it holds, making it easier to get to the pocket. The room for error is less on tournament conditions.

Knowing the distance of the oil pattern tells you where to play and knowing the volume of oil tells you which bowling ball to use. Here is how oil volume is gauged:

– Low volume of oil is between 20 mL – 25 mL.
– Medium volume of oil is between 23 mL – 27 mL.
– High volume of oil is between 25 mL – 30 mL.

The Rule of 31 tells us to subtract 31 from the distance of the oil pattern you are bowling on, resulting in the break point. The break point is the board at the end of the pattern (and beginning of the friction) in which the bowling ball starts to make it turn towards the headpin.

In this premium video, Scott Pohl, owner of On Track Pro Shop, explains where to play and with which ball to use for some of the patterns you may compete on.

Long Patterns

The first oil pattern is 47ft with 20ml of oil making it a long pattern with a low volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 16 board located 47 ft down lane and Pohl suggests a stronger bowling ball with less surface and a weaker layout.

Oil 1

The second oil pattern is 45ft with 32.1ml of oil making it a long pattern with a higher volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 14 board located 45ft down lane and Pohl suggests a stronger bowling ball with more surface.

Oil 2

Short Patterns

The first oil pattern is 34ft with 22.75ml of oil making it a short pattern with a low volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 3 board located 34ft down lane and Pohl suggests a weaker bowling ball with less surface.

Oil 3

The second oil pattern is 33ft with 27.995ml of oil making it a short pattern with a higher volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 2 board located 33ft down lane, and Pohl suggests a stronger bowling ball with more surface and a weak layout.

Oil 4

Check out “Lane Surface: Wood, Synthetic and Ball Choice” and “Versatility Drills: Playing 4 Different Zones” for more expert lane play instruction.