The four oil pattern variables that bowlers should pay most attention to are pattern length, oil volume, side-to-side ratio, and lengthwise taper. Let’s take a quick look at each variable in more detail:

  • Pattern length will typically influence the area of the lane being played and, when combined with oil volume, will influence the type and surface of the equipment you will likely need to use. Longer oil patterns tend to be played more to the inside, while shorter patterns tend to be played closer to the gutter.
  • Higher oil volume patterns will typically require stronger, earlier rolling equipment. Lower volume patterns will generally be better suited to weaker balls that create more length.
  • Side-to-side ratio relates to the distribution of oil in the middle of the lane compared to the outside portion of the lane. Lower ratio patterns (2:1, for example) tend to be lower scoring than higher ratio patterns (10:1). It’s important to also note that the lower the ratio, the more important lane surface and topography become when making lane play decisions.
  • Lengthwise taper refers to the distribution of oil from the front of the pattern compared to the end of the pattern. Just like side-to-side ratio, patterns with less lengthwise taper tend to be lower scoring than patterns with more lengthwise taper.

When looking at an oil pattern sheet, this information can help you get an idea of what to expect, but always remember to let your ball motion be your guide. Good luck and high scores!