Bowling Lane Condition Basics

When you walk into a bowling center, you can almost be certain that a lane's condition is different than the condition of the previous lane that you bowled on, even if you're on the same lane at the same bowling center. This is because all kinds of people play on each and every lane. No two lanes are identical and wooden lanes play different than synthetic lanes. Here's what you need to ask yourself when throwing your warm-up shots:

Are the bowling lane conditions oily, medium, or dry?

It's the first thing you try to figure out when you bowl. You throw your warm-up shots starting on the center dot and then ask yourself, "Does my ball take off too much to the left?" If so, this means the lane is dry and you need to adjust to the left. On the other hand, "Does you ball not hook?" This means the lane is oily and you need to adjust to the right. The key to remember is to always adjust to the same direction as the error.

Sometimes you need to ask yourself, "Am I not releasing it right?" Most likely you are releasing it right, it's just that the lane condition is not medium. It would be easier to determine the lane conditions if you could see the oil located on the surface of the lanes, but this is the tricky part. You can't see it with your eyes. Sometimes you can tell by examining your ball when it comes back. You may notice an oil ring on the ball that tells you that the lanes may be oily. But for the most part, you have to watch how your ball reacts to the lane. When the lanes are oily and you move to the right, turn your shoulders in. In bowling, this is called "closing your shoulders" for oily lanes. When the lanes are dry and you move to the left, you open your shoulders so the ball goes out and hooks in. Bowling lanes tend to start out a little oilier, but as the game progresses, you will notice that your ball will hook more and you have to adjust. Move to the left and open your shoulders to adjust to the constantly changing bowling lane conditions. As you can see, bowling on dry lanes is very different than bowling on oily lanes.

In order to determine the condition of the lane and adjust accordingly, you must be consistent in your stance, delivery, release, timing, and follow-through. Adjusting to lane conditions is possible only if:

       You have an accurate, consistent arm swing

       You arm swing is timed properly with your foot movements

       The release has been mastered and is the same every time

       You walk straight to the foul line without drifting