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George Freeman's Expert Bowling Tips

-Playing On Oil
01/14/2001 - By George Freeman
     We've all heard the term "house conditions," and how easy they have become in the last decade. Usually a house condition has what is called a top hat--oil is laid down in the middle of the lane, with the outside (3rd arrow to the gutter) relatively dry. This allows players to throw the ball inside, where the oil is, out to the dry part of the lane, where it will hook back into the pocket. The term "adult bumper bowling" is fashioned after the bumpers sometimes placed in the gutters for children, so they will not throw the ball in the gutter. The adult version is invisible, but is just as effective in negating the effects of poorly thrown shots. But what happens when this adult "bumper" is taken away? Usually the result is low scoring, because bowlers attempt to throw the ball "into the dirt," only to find oil, so the ball never recovers, or hooks back, into the pocket. Even today's high-powered equipment can be rendered useless with the right lane condition, so how do you combat this challenge? With knowledge. Here are some basic tips when dealing with oil.

1. Soften your shot. Today's players, especially the power players, like to use maximum revolutions with lots of speed. On house conditions, this works very well, because when the ball hits the dry it creates a very steep entry angle into the pocket, which creates lively pin action. Even glancing shots turn into strikes. With oil on the outside, however, the ball cannot recover, especially with the extra speed, and therefore will either not hit the head pin, or hit the head pin thinly enough to leave a 2-10 split or a combination thereof. Having 30 revolutions will not help you on oil if you only give the ball half a second to react to the lane surface. So softening the speed is a must. You have to give your ball time to react, or flip over, to create any kind of entry angle at all.

2. Square up. This is probably one of the hardest things for a medium-to-high-end player to do, since the need to do so on house conditions so rarely call for it. Moving your feet and target right (or left for left handers) will take away the need to send the ball to the gutter, and therefore take away some ground the ball will have to cover in order to react to the lane and hit the pocket.

     These are by no means the only ways to deal with oily conditions, but this will give you a start. It's fine to know how to play the game one way, but having more than one trick in your bag (other than just trying to pull out another ball) will give you an edge.


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