One of the most overlooked, yet often discussed, mental skills in bowling is the ability to read oil patterns. Reading oil patterns is the mental ability to map the location and volume of oil placed on different sections of lane by watching the ball’s reaction.
At an advanced level, bowlers can mentally picture the oil pattern, similar to mentally imaging a geography map, in order to create the most area to score well. Identifying the most effective path to the pocket will increase pocket hitting and carry percentages and maximize margin for error. As suggested by Susie Minshew’s audio CD titled, Whoever Finds It First, Wins!, reading oil patterns is similar to painting a picture where every shot is like a stroke of paint on a canvas. Every delivery is one shot of the overall picture and after many shots, you should develop your Mona Lisa called the oil pattern. This article will explain a method of reading oil patterns that I have developed during my competitive bowling and coaching experience.
Important points to consider first
To begin, a few comments should be emphasized. First, to effectively read oil patterns, consistent shotmaking is essential. If the bowler’s delivery is inconsistent, other error-ridden factors could potentially explain the ball reaction. Second, a benchmark ball should be used. That is the ball with a predictable ball reaction that is used for reading patterns. Finally, reading oil patterns is an ongoing learning process. Each shot changes the oil pattern as a result of the ball collecting and depositing oil on its way toward the pins. Thus, it is important to always watch the ball reaction even on bad shots to pick up clues to the changing oil pattern.
Parts of the ball reaction
Former Team USA head coaches Fred Borden and Jeri Edwards, in their book titled Advanced Adjustments – Knowledge is the Key, provided a description of key ball reaction components and divided ball reaction into three parts: distance, ...
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Image Credits: Bowling lane and pins illustration (©iStock.com/bisli) is licensed for use by BTM and is the copyrighted property of its original creator.