"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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.