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How To Compare USBC Red, White, And Blue Oil Patterns

If you wish to learn how to compare USBC Red, White, and Blue oil patterns, then you must begin with understanding the Red pattern is the widely accepted house-condition at virtually all bowling centers across the country. All oil patterns, by the way, are considered to be a United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Red Pattern unless otherwise indicated as a Blue Pattern or White Pattern condition.

The USBC Red Pattern is designed to provide the greatest amount of bowling ball delivery forgiveness of any pattern approved by the USBC. To learn how to compare USBC Red, White, and Blue oil patterns is to simply know that the Red Pattern yields the highest pace of scoring in comparison to the Blue and White Patterns, which are also approved for use by bowling centers for league and tournament competitions.

Here is some useful information for each of the three oil patterns:

The Red Pattern allows bowlers to find more oil toward the center of the lane surface when they release their bowling balls than toward the edges of the lane.

On the Red pattern, a bowler can, if properly aligned, miss the intended target and the bowling ball will still result in hitting the pocket rewarding the bowler with a very good chance of producing a strike.

The Red Pattern is sometimes referred to as a "wet/dry" condition, a "block" condition, or an "over/under" condition implying that there is a great amount of oil in the center of the lane and a very small amounts toward the edges with little or no blend of oil to separate both extreme friction factors.

The Red Pattern, of course, is the least challenging of the three approved patterns by USBC for use in sanctioned bowling centers. A given bowling center's standard house condition is the Red Pattern. Any pattern not considered a Blue or White Pattern will be considered a Red Pattern by default.

The White pattern will be slightly more challenging than the Red pattern.

The White pattern has a little more oil applied on the outer portions of the lane than the Red. As the Red pattern has the tendency to play as an "over-under" or "block" condition for scratch bowlers, the White pattern is blended more evenly in oil application while still showing a crown of oil from the inside to out along with a gradual taper of oil from the foul line to the end of the oil pattern.

The White Pattern uses a blended cross lane ratio of oil application and experienced players can open their lines from the release point to the break point, control ball skid, and hit the pocket consistently. The potential for high scores on the White patterns exists because of the strong blended or crowned pattern for those understanding how to line up properly.

On a White pattern, the experienced player also understands when the condition breaks down, a more direct release angle to the break point, coupled with a possible change in bowling balls, will prolong the player's ability to hit the pocket very consistently.


The Blue pattern will be flatter overall with respect to oil application and is the most challenging shot of all three patterns.

The Blue pattern is designed to provide the greatest level of challenge as the application of oil is crowned the least of all three patterns.

The Blue pattern yields the lowest pace of scoring of any of the three patterns.

As with the Red and White patterns, the Blue pattern is offered in three versions to meet the needs of bowling centers with a variety of surfaces and climate considerations.

The Blue pattern is something you might see at a USBC State Tournament, or other select competitions where controlling the pace of scoring is the objective.

The Blue pattern provides a "stepping stone" up to the conditions used in the USBC Open Championships or in Team USA Experience Leagues.

Blue patterns require quality deliveries by the bowler to achieve good scoring levels. Speed control, loft control, consistent releasing action by the bowler, a bowling ball coverstock and a drilling layout intended to create a controlled ball reaction all are the critical variables needed to match with the Blue pattern. Serious and competitive bowlers should seek out opportunities to bowl on the Blue pattern to learn more about playing the lane condition and which bowling equipment works best.

As is the case with the Red and White patterns, The Blue pattern does not make any specific provisions for the distance the oil is applied to the lane surface. Normally, the application of oil ranges from a distance of 37 feet to 45 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.

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