Medium oil, also known as the “Wild West” of sport patterns, can be the biggest challenge a bowler faces when competing on flatter conditions. For many bowlers, warm-ups on medium-length patterns feel a lot like their local house shot, with plenty of (but not too much) hook, and less hold in the middle. I’ve watched countless bowlers practicing with full confidence, only to suddenly struggle at the end of practice. Did the lanes change that much in those few shots? Most likely. Did the bowler have too much confidence and not pay attention to the lanes? Most definitely.
The goal of this article is not to help you define a strategy for medium oil. There is no single strategy for an environment with so much potential variance. However, what we can do is provide the general ideas behind effectively attacking a medium pattern environment, with some specifics on the impacts of the oil pattern variables to help you put the pieces together when practicing and competing on these types of patterns.
Defining medium patterns
As one would expect, medium patterns are the lengths that fit right between the short and long pattern types. As a result, they only have five potential distances, between 38 and 42 feet. You’d think that with less of a range of possibilities, medium patterns would offer less variety, not more. In one sense, you’d be right because medium patterns often transition into something that looks very similar every time, but the same could also be said for most long and short patterns.
On the other hand, because almost everything looks like it works on a medium pattern to start, you’ll find a lot more variety in the strategies being employed to start (with varying degrees of success) and the resulting oil breakdown can be hard to follow as you cross a house. With this in mind, let’s ...
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