Bowling Lane Play Articles

Lane play is, by a fairly large margin, our most requested topic for new articles. And, it's really not too big of a surprise: the topic of lane play is very broad. To have a good grasp on lane play, bowlers need an understanding of many different sub-topics, include oil patterns, lane surfaces, bowling balls, coverstocks, layouts, physical adjustments, ball motion, pattern breakdown, carrydown, pin carry, and countless others!

Combine all of this complexity with the fact that bowling has experienced such rapid and dramatic change in this area over the last several decades and it is very easy to understand why bowlers continue to request more and more information on this topic. To give just one example, many of our readers grew up and bowled very successfully for decades in the era when bowlers typically carried just one bowling ball. They typically threw their ball right up the second arrow 90% of the time, perhaps making small physical and alignment adjustments to keep their ball in the pocket and striking throughout a bowling session. Contrast that with today, where it isn't uncommon at all for a tournament bowler to start outside of the first arrow and then, by the later games of the block, end up lofting the left gutter with a totally different bowling ball and a totally different set of delivery parameters. To say that the game has changed is certainly a huge understatement!

Our contributors make it a priority to try to help you better understand the intricacies of modern lane play. Study their articles below and formulate your own strategies for how best to attack the conditions you face. Proper lane play in today's game requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and open-mindedness. The information you'll find below represents some of the best lane play knowledge available anywhere. But, at the end of the day, it is up to the bowler to combine this knowledge with good shot-making and good observational skills so that they can more frequently make the right decisions when it matters most.

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"I often get ask when participating in Pro Am events what is the place to go for coaching, technical bowling information, or generally how to improve knowledge of the game. I always point them towards BTM, as the knowledge I have learned from BTM's authors and coaches have helped me improve and take my game to a much higher level, including a PBA regional title! Topics from the physical game, to lane play, to ball motion and the mental approach are all covered. It is a must for all serious bowlers who want to improve and continue learning more about the sport we love."

- Stephen Haas (bowler, PBA regional champion, and Bowling This Month subscriber)

Featured Bowling Lane Play Articles

Short oil strategies and variables


In the first article of this series, we discussed the various elements that make up a lane pattern and how each variable can affect ball motion. While length is not necessarily the most important factor, it’s what most people look...

Oil pattern variables and house shots

Understanding Your Bowling Environment - Part 1

You’re bowling on a 38-foot pattern. You use the “Rule of 31” to establish that your ball should come out of the pattern on board 7, giving you a breakpoint around board 6. You take out your benchmark ball, but...

An example from the 2021 US Women's Open

Improving Your Bowling Through Self-Reflection

Once a tournament is finished, do you take the time to think about your performance? Not the result, but your performance? Taking the time to reflect on how you executed, your mental game, and your lane play choices can be very helpful. You...

Putting the two fundamental concepts together


If you want to win, you don’t have to make perfect shots. If you need to be perfect, something is wrong. Find the right part of the lane and you’ll have some room to miss and, in turn, you’ll start...

Commit to the shot

Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 5

American entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., once said, "You always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear." While he certainly wasn't talking about what a bowler faces as they step onto the approach, it’s very applicable. More than almost anything...

Bowling Lane Play Article Directory

The table below lists all of our bowling lane play articles.

You can sort this table by clicking on the header row of any column. Also, you can filter the data in the table by entering a search term in the search box below.

IssueArticle TitleAuthor
Understanding your Bowling Environment - Part 2
Understanding Your Bowling Environment - Part 1
Improving Your Bowling Through Self-Reflection
Alignment and Lane Play
Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 5
You Versus the Field
Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 4
Improving Memory for Improved Lane Play
Keeping It Simple: Getting Lined Up
Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 3
Equipment for the Four Competition Zones
Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 2
Five Simple Steps to Mastering Lane Play - Part 1
Bowling's Four Competition Zones
Which Ball to Throw and When
Breaking Down Barriers: Plotting a Course for 220
Bowling's Golden Rules - Part 4
Breaking Down Barriers: Joining the 200 Average Club
Tips for Playing Inside
The Bowling Trinity Revisited - Part 3
Bowlers Behaving Badly - Part 2
25 Common Bowling Errors - Part 2
Tips and Suggestions for Mid-Level Bowlers - Part 3
Lane Play Strategies for House Shots
The Hidden Variety of House Shots
Lane Play Fundamentals for Better Ball Reaction
Choosing Your Bowling Ball Toolbox
Building Your Bowling Ball Toolshed
A Guide to Competing in Team USA Trials - Part 2
LASER, Revisited - Part 5
LASER, Revisited - Part 4
LASER, Revisited - Part 3
LASER, Revisited - Part 2
LASER, Revisited - Part 1
Of Black Holes and Other Unseen Obstacles
Lessons Learned
The Resurgence of Urethane Bowling Balls
Welcome Back to the Sport of Bowling - Part 3
The Coaching Round Table: Four Steps vs. Five, Sport Pattern Tips, and Better Adjustments
The Dead Zone Revisited
See the Clues, Make the Moves
The Fundamentals of Target Line Adjustments
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The PWBA Round Table: Bowling Ball Selection and Matching Up
Gutters, Twigs, Bank Shots, and Sucker Bets - Part 3
Equipment, Ball Reaction, and Lane Play
Getting the Tournament Team Lined Up - Part 2
Getting the Tournament Team Lined Up - Part 1
Creating Comfort on Difficult Lane Conditions
Know Your Enemy - Part 2
Know Your Enemy - Part 1
Tournament Lane Play Preparation
Gutters, Twigs, Bank Shots, and Sucker Bets - Part 2
The Effectiveness of the Three-Point Targeting With Quiet Eye System
Three-Point Targeting For Advanced Lane Play
Gutters, Twigs, Bank Shots, and Sucker Bets - Part 1
Patterns in 3D
Reading the Lanes - How Are You Adjusting?
Ball Motion Gap Analysis
Making a Ball Change On the Fly
Where and How to Apply Tape and How to Score on Wet/Dry House Shots
Staying Lined Up - Part 2
Tricky Lanes and Coaching Selection
Staying Lined Up – Part 1
The 3x3 Box
Weather Conditions and the Speed of Your Ball
Attacking the USBC Nationals Pattern
What's Your Shot Shape?
There's Oil on Them There Lanes
Stop, Look, and Listen to the Lanes!
How to Feel the Friction
The Bowler-Built Box
Matching Ball Motion Shape to Breakpoint Zones
Lane Play Alignment
Proven Techniques for Effective Breathing and Targeting
Mapping the Location of Oil
Lane Play and Consistency - Part 2
Lane Play and Consistency - Part 1
The Relationship Between Lane Play and Oil Patterns
Warm Up Once, Line Up Forever!
Is it Me or the Lane?
Increasing Your Carry Percentage
Pins Don't Have Karma
What Makes a House Shot Typical?
Shape Shifting
Lane Launch Pad - Part 3
Lane Launch Pad - Part 2
Lane Launch Pad - Part 1
Green Bowling
The LASER Adjustment - Part 3
The LASER Adjustment - Part 2
The LASER Adjustment - Part 1
How to Read a Program Sheet - Part 2
How to Read a Program Sheet - Part 1
Lining Up Off Everyone Else
El Dorado and El Diablo
Matching Up Trumps Good Bowling
How the Ball Goes Through the Pins
Seven Misconceptions
Recognizing and Producing the Matching Up Process
The Ledge
The Art of Unlearning
The Cycle
Reno, Here I Come!
Start to Finish - Part 2
Start to Finish - Part 1
Keeping an Open Mind
Resistance: The Other 25%
The Non-Physical / Non-Mental Game
Playing Without a Parachute
The Dead Zone