Bowling Lane Conditions

Bowling lane conditions are different every time you bowl. Even if you always use the same lane at your favorite bowling center, the lane will change from game to game.

Different factors are responsible for the differences in bowling lane conditions. Wooden lanes differ from synthetic lanes, and players can cause changes to a bowling lane that will make it feel different every time you play. The best way to evaluate the bowling lane is by asking yourself a few questions while you throw your warm-up shots.

Bowling Lane Conditions: Oily, Medium or Dry

You would think that the easiest way to check the condition of the bowling lane is by looking at it, but that is not the case. Even an oily lane is not easily visible, although it can be seen on your bowling ball. An oily bowling lane may leave an oil ring on your bowling ball as a clue. Generally, however, the way your bowling ball acts is the best way to determine lane conditions.

Your bowling ball will react differently depending on the bowling lane conditions. If the ball moves to the left, it means the lane is dry so you have to adjust your throw to the left. If the ball won’t hook, then the lane is oily so you will have to adjust your throw to the right. The key here is to adjust your throw in the same direction as the error.

Oily lanes require movement to the right, and a move known to bowlers as “closing the shoulders.” This means closing your shoulders in as you throw the ball. A dry lane calls for corrective movement to the left, and for this you want to open your shoulders up.

Oftentimes, the bowling lane will start out oily and your ball will not hook. As the game goes on, however, the bowling lane may dry out causing your ball to have more of a hook to the left. Always be aware of what the ball is doing and adjust your position and throw as necessary. And don’t forget that adjustments are always made in the same direction as the error.

Of course, the adjustments suggested here assume that you are using proper bowling techniques. If you are not using good technique – proper stance, correct ball position and release, good timing and complete follow-through – you may be the cause of your ball’s erroneous path, not the bowling lane.

To make sure you are using correct techniques, do the following:


- Keep your swing accurate and consistent.
- Make sure your swing is properly timed with the movement of your feet.
- Release the ball at precisely the right moment.
- Make sure you are walking straight on your approach.