Bowling House Shots vs PBA Oil Patterns

Originally Published November 8, 2005

I was driving home from work today and found myself pondering this weekend (WWPB Mixed Doubles) and then began pondering the difference between sport/pro conditions and league shots when it dawned on me a major difference that I’d never really thought of before.

Before I divulge this information let me pose a question. Remember the last time you were reading for a long time continuously and then someone came into the room and informed you that you were reading in the dark. You then realize that you never noticed that you were in the dark but now it’s plain as day. This is me… right now.

I have been going back and forth between pro patterns and league patterns routinely since April and the difference has been engulfing my very presence the whole time. I don’t know how I missed it or overlooked it or whatever. Let me explain.

The following pattern is that of a typical league pattern or house shot.

Notice that everything from around the 9-12th board and out to the gutter is dry from nearly the foul line to the end of the oil pattern roughly 38 feet down lane.

For a high rev bowler like myself, if I start outside the ball will always want to hook early so if it is hooking early and going high or Brooklyn I have to move in an throw left to right, through the oil, and hit the dry outside further down lane… but because of the increased right-to-left angle I generally have to slow the ball down for it to hook back to the pocket.

This is generally considered a basic “swing shot”.

Pro patterns however are fundamentally different. Compare the pattern above to PBA Pattern #4 They have more oil outside and therefore won’t hook so early or dramatically (generally speaking) and when they do one cannot simply move way inside slow down a pinch and throw to the same mark. Doing this causes your area to be very small.

So far when encountering the early hook on pro patterns I have attempted to throw the ball faster and move in and “bump” my shot of the same dry mark like I would on a house shot. You can get away with this on a house shot because you have crazy large area. What I need to start doing on the pro patterns is move in slightly, utilizing a pinch more inside oil and move my mark down lane a little bit. Doing this I give myself the freedom to chuck a ball down the the lane slightly inside of my original line (missing the area of the lane causing my ball to hook early) aiming for the a new mark directly behind my original mark. Should the ball continue to hook early I just keep slightly move inside and adjusting my mark further down lane. You see, once the ball gets behind a dry spot or a friction zone it usually will push slightly, this is why one cannot “bump” off the original mark. If you miss by the slightest of margins your ball will push down lane and come into the pocket light or leave a washout or it will hook way to much and come in high anyway.

This is a very general theory and description of the difference in adjusting to early roll or hook between house patterns and pro patterns. I must now begin to expand this theory to specific pro patterns and begin to understand how to physically apply it to my game. I think this has been a good night for me and these basic thoughts will serve me well as I continue learning and progressing in my future competitions. I hope it made sense to you.

Update: In case you wanted to know, you can click through to see my brief WWPB Mixed Doubles recap.