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Bowling Over/Under Ball Reaction

If you are experiencing a bowling over/under ball reaction, then the lane condition this ball motion is occurring on is most likely the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Red Pattern or very similar. The USBC Red Pattern is designed to provide the greatest amount of bowling ball delivery forgiveness of any pattern approved by the USBC and is most commonly found as the house condition of choice by a majority of bowling centers in the country.

One common variation of the Red pattern, however, does tend to produce a bowling over/under ball reaction when the cross lane ratio of oil applied in the center portion of the lane dramatically drops from a heavy volume across the lane from center to the edges producing a very dry and relatively low volume of oil towards the edges of the lane.

This type of oil condition which can produce a bowling over/under ball reaction may also be referred to as an "wet/dry oil condition, a sub-classification of the Red pattern, which has additionally been referred to as a "blocked" condition. An over/under ball reaction occurs more frequently on "wet/dry" oil patterns than on blended or crowned oil patterns. On the "wet/dry" condition, the ball skids very easily while traveling in the heavy concentration of oil near the center of the lane and then reacts very quickly to the high friction dry boards.

Although this type of "wet/dry" oil condition has the potential to produce very high scoring, it can also be a tricky condition producing a non-predictable, over/under ball reaction as the ball enters the dry boards from the heavy oil. Let's examine this further.

When your bowling ball travels in heavy oil and then arrives abruptly into little or no oil nearer the outside edges of the lane, an over/under ball reaction can cause your ball to miss the pocket. However, if the ball enters the oil pattern with good speed and direction, then this oil condition will help steer your ball to the pocket repeatedly and you will get strikes at a high degree of efficiency. Proper ball speed delivered consistently from delivery to delivery along with a good release angle to your target will produce the best results.

With more oil in the center portion of lane and less oil toward the outside boards, which is what causes an over/under ball reaction in the first place, missing your intended target but with using good speed control and good direction to your target will still result in hitting the pocket rewarding you with a very good chance of producing a strike. Further, it is important to know that the "wet/dry" oil pattern itself has no specific provisions for the distance the oil is applied to the lane surface from the foul line.

Normally, the application of oil ranges from a distance of 35 feet to 45, but most commonly from 38 feet - 42 feet total distance where the lane machine no longer buffs in oil on the lane surface and where the dry boards begin across the entire lane on the back end of the lane. The overall oil distance is one component controlling the location of the break point down the lane.

The shorter the distance oil is applied to the lane surface, the closer to the edge the bowling ball travels before reaching the break point and beginning it's movement toward the pocket. The longer the distance oil is applied to the lane surface, the nearer the break point is to the center of the lane and the less overall distance a ball has to travel on the dry back end of the lane and the less the ball will hook.

Alignment is the key to success for any bowler on any oil condition. After making a good initial alignment to the pocket on strike ball deliveries, an errant delivery will usually end up hitting the pocket on the "wet/dry" oil pattern because missing slightly inside the intended target will produce a long ball skid due to the concentration of oil in the center of the lane. The ball will hold its line and contact the pocket.

If the bowler misses the intended line toward the edge of the lane, then the high friction portion of lane surface, will help the ball to recover and hook back to contact the pocket. This is certainly one key reason the "wet/dry" oil pattern yields the highest pace of scoring compared to other patterns sanctioned by USBC, the ability of errant deliveries to hit the pocket.

Several factors help your bowling ball follow the path to the pocket as intended by the "wet/dry" oil pattern. Your ball speed should be consistent and not delivered too slowly as too encourage your ball to jump out of the pattern sooner than you desire nor too fast as to skid beyond the break point and arrive short of the pocket on the pin deck. Too slow of speed or too fast of speed might cause the over/under ball reaction we referred to earlier in this article.

Some bowling ball coverstocks are so aggressive and are textured so roughly, like a 500 grit Abralon pad finish on a solid reactive coverstock, that the ball may hook sooner than you wish and leave the oil pattern if you get the ball into the dry boards too quickly based on your delivery angle. The result is missing the pocket. The opposite effect may hold true if you are using a stiff, pearl type coverstock with a polished finish. This type coverstock with a polished finish might tend to over-skid in the heavy volume of oil and travel past the break point before hooking toward the pocket. It is important to be careful and aware what surface texture your ball possesses at the time you use it on a "wet/dry" condition in order to maximize the benefit in your favor of this oil pattern.

Experimentation with coverstock preparations to avoid an over/under ball reaction will help you learn which type of coverstock best matches the oil pattern based on your game. Often, coverstocks with a medium grit surface tend to neutralize the over/under ball reaction on this pattern and will hold the line to the pocket.

Of course, oil distances used in the patterns where you bowl make it necessary to experiment with a low flare and high flare bowling balls to determine which will will react most predictably on the route to the pocket. On shorter distance "wet/dry" oil patterns the back end allows more distance for the ball to react than does the long distance pattern and, therefore, it might be wise to continue experimentation with medium or perhaps high flare bowling balls so you understand which balls match best to the given length of skid you will get and still react consistently in the "wet/dry oil pattern to avoid over/under ball reactions.

Your own personal "rev-rate" will also influence ball reaction on a "wet/dry" oil condition. Power players must use a wider angle from the delivery point targeting the down-lane break point than does an up-the-boards player or an "in-between" player. Coupled with rev-rate, your axis tilt is another factor in alignment as is choosing a ball to react well on this oil pattern. And finally, the layout drilling option you choose will encourage how consistent your ball motion will be on this oil pattern.

It is impossible, therefore, to relate which ball, which coverstock preparation, which layout pattern, which release technique, and how fast you should roll your ball on the "wet/dry" oil condition to avoid over/under ball reactions. You must experiment, practice, by using your existing bowling ball equipment to narrow the variables and find the best ball to match to the lanes. If you are successful, you will turn the over/under ball reactions into decisive pocket hits. Finally, please consult a certified instructor or local bowling professional to learn more about alignment and avoiding an over/under ball reaction. has become the No. 1 e-tailer of choice for bowling equipment by the consumer of America. Once you have found any item you wish to order, please be reminded that every item at our site comes with free shipping an no hidden charges. To place your order, simply follow our easy online order instructions 24 hours a day, every day. Thanks for visiting