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Bowling Lane Play Adjustments

When trying to play the lanes, you must first get lined up to the pocket. The need for lane adjustments comes when a good delivery no longer hits the pocket giving you a fair chance at strikes.

There are several types of lane adjustments available to you, and you should familiarize yourself at becoming skilled in using each:

1. Parallel Adjustments
2. Extended Sighting Adjustments
3. Adjusting Your Ball Speed
4. Adjusting your Release
5. Adjusting Loft
6. Bowling Ball Changes

Most bowlers use a proven system, or a variation of the system, of making lateral moves with the positioning of the feet on the approach and with the sighting target on the lane. These adjustments are commonly referred to as parallel adjustments.

The parallel adjustments system requires adjusting your feet on the approach and on the lane in the same direction, but at different ratios of adjustments.

Using sight adjustments closer to the foul line or further beyond your normal sighting target can be another option to restore pocket hits.

For example, if you sight at a target at or near the bowling arrows, to adjust for your ball reacting too soon, you can extend your line of sight further beyond your mark on the lane by looking perhaps from 6 inches beyond your mark. Be careful to not over-extend your sighting target, which can cause you to pull your shot inside the new target.

A 6 inch extended sight adjustment can help you gain additional bowling ball skid length.

An opposite adjustment of sighting nearer, perhaps 6 inches in front of your mark, will reduce ball skid length slightly and help you get your ball into a roll more quickly to combat heavy oil conditions.

A third type of lane adjustment is changing ball speed. A slight increase in ball speed can gain skid length and delay the ball hooking in the mid-lane. Make certain any increase you make in ball speed comes without a sacrifice in control and accuracy.

As you might expect, decreasing ball speed can get your ball to gain quicker traction on the lane and the hook phase of ball motion will occur slightly sooner with less ball speed.

Be careful to not decelerate your forward swing and cut short your follow through just to reduce ball speed. Decelerating your forward swing usually results in turning your ball too early or getting your ball to react much sooner than you plan to happen.

Changing your release can alter the ball motion slightly. If you reduce the amount of finger rotation made at the moment you release the ball, you will see a higher forward roll motion with less axis tilt. This motion can tame the ball reaction slightly and help you to avoid early hook or help you avoid seeing your ball react as aggressively on the dry portion of the lane than does a higher axis tilt.

The opposite can help if you need to see your ball recover more sharply at the break point down the lane by rotating your bowling fingers when releasing your ball more than normal. Be careful to avoid over-rotation of the ball where your bowling thumb comes around the top of the ball and you pull your shot inside your intended target. A higher axis tilt normally produces slightly longer skid length control on medium or dry lanes.

Using a greater distance of loft will help you avoid delivering your ball at a steep angle into the lane surface or behind the foul line. Loft control affects skid length control. Too much loft can make your bowling ball bounce excessively upon contact with the lane surface and can produce an unpredictable skid length.

Just as sighting 6 inches beyond your normal target or closer to the foul line by 6 inches can change your ball skid length. Changing the loft distance is usually best applied by trying to add or reduce loft by about the same 6 inches.

Unless you are adept and well practiced at using a much longer loft distance beyond the foul line, you run the risk of getting that unpredictable bowling ball reaction referred to earlier.


Finally, a bowling ball change at the right time can help you produce a desirable ball reaction after the lanes change. Be careful to not change balls unless you understand what differences in the ball you are switching to will produce in ball motion.

Your challenge here is to know the surface texture difference between the ball in play and the ball you will use next, so no surprises happen when you make the change.

When the lanes breakdown and with corresponding carrydown, a ball change certainly becomes a realistic adjustment to make, to restore your ability to hit the pocket consistently.

No lane adjustment system is perfect or fool proof.

Adjustments, however, are a huge part of success when playing lanes after oil breakdown or carrydown has occured.

It is not necessary to make multiple adjustments at the same time. Be careful to try one adjustment at a time unless you think making multiple changes will do the job.

In most cases with normal house conditions, you will get an over reaction using multiple adjustments unless you are experienced on the given lane conditions and know your adjustment capabilities well.

Experimentation in practice is one way to know how adjustments you use will work. There is little or no substitute for experience and for practicing your adjustments when not in competitive sessions.

Do not fear adjustments in lane play. If you wish to be able to hit the pocket for the duration of your competitive sessions, then be prepared to change angles of attack, make ball speed changes, loft distance, hand action, or changing bowling balls. Adjusting to changing lane conditions is an integral part of the game and a key to scoring success.