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"The Bowling Book"

Playing The Lanes
Playing the lanes is simply reading the lanes (see Reading Lanes) and adjusting accordingly. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Playing a lane condition is one of the most important, if not the most important, part of getting your average above 200. To play a lane condition, you have to be able to read the lanes (see Reading Lanes) and adjust accordingly. Once you have mastered the skill of playing the lane condition that you are faced with, you will become a better bowler

I will endeavor to speak to the two extremes in this article. You will need to adjust your style accordingly based on the condition that you are faced with. More often than not you will not be faced with either of these extremes, but something in between. I have tried to explain the best way to adjust to the different things that you will run into here, but the final adjustments necessary will be figured out by you during your practice time.

NOTE:
By "practice time", I do not mean the 5 or 10 minutes before you start your league or tournament. I am speaking of the time that you have dedicated to learning how to bowl better away from your leagues and tournaments.


Wet (Oily) Condition

An oily condition basically means that your ball won't turn over (hook). It slides down the lane and does absolutely nothing. On a severly oily condition, you will have to throw the ball straight at the pocket "from the corner" (this means standing as far right as you can). The problem with this shot is that it is very hard to carry strikes consistently.

Basically an oily condition means that there is more oil on the lane, so your ball gets less friction with the lane. Normally when you throw your ball, at some point down the lane it gains friction with the lane and will "grab" or hook. On an oily condition you have to force this to happen.

The way that the majority of bowlers do this is by having a sanded ball with a soft coverstock that is meant to hook on any condition. This ball will have a high hooking potential and allow the ball to move even on the oiliest of conditions. Particle balls are known for their high hooking potential and are probably the best balls for the extreme conditions.

For those of us with a more modest budget that can't buy a ball for every condition, don't fret; there is another way to combat the oily condition. Remember that we spoke earlier about the ball not getting enough friction with the lane? Well to improve the friction with the lane, you can slow the ball down. This gives the ball a change to stop sliding and sink (for lack of a better term) into the oil and grab the lane.

Once you have your ball grabbing the lane and hooking, you will probably still need to move your target and feet to the right (left for lefties). On an oily condition you are not going to get a lot of hook out of your ball, so you need to get the angle to the pocket by where you stand and throw the ball.



Dry Condition

As you would guess, a dry condition is the opposite of an oily condition. The ball will seem to start moving across the lane as soon as it hits the lane. For this condition the best shot is to throw a "big hook" or a "ballooning" shot. This means that you stand to the left (right for lefties) of the lane and throw your ball straight at the 10 (7 for lefties) pin. This allows the ball to roll out towards the gutter and come back to the pins. The biggest problem with this shot is that you are prone to leaving splits, because this shot is more likely to come in behind the headpin.

Basically a dry condition means that there is very little oil on the lane, so your ball is immediately touching the surface of the lane and will grab right away. Ideally you will have a ball with a lot less hooking potential that has been "shined" or "polished". This will make the surface of the ball slick and allow it not to hook too much too quickly. The best balls for this are hard plastic (in extreme cases), but you can usually get away with a shined up, low hooking potential, resin ball.

Again, for those of us who can't afford another ball, you can speed the ball up and move farther to the left (right for lefties) and throw the ball towards the corner pin. This combination of speed and big hook can create some pretty dramatic hits and make the pins go flying everywhere (this is a good thing).


By adjusting the speed and location of your feet (and getting a certain kind of ball, if you can afford it), you can conquer the oily and dry conditions. Let me emphasize here that you will need to practice this as you would any other change in your game. Practice is the most important piece of your game to get you to the next level.





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