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 in 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 breakpoint. The breakpoint is the board at the end of the pattern (and beginning of the friction) in which the bowling ball starts to make its turn towards the headpin.

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

Long Patterns

The first oil pattern is 47 ft with 20 mL 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 32.1 mL of oil, making it a long pattern with a higher volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 14 board located 45 ft down lane, and Pohl suggests a stronger bowling ball with more surface.

Oil 2

Short Patterns

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

Oil 3

The second oil pattern is 33 ft with 27.995 mL of oil, making it a short pattern with a higher volume of oil. The breakpoint is on 2 board located 33 ft 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.

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