Hi, I’m Stephen Padilla, Director of Coaching for USBC, and I’d like to welcome you to my blog.


Hi, I hope you’ve been enjoying the launch of BowlTV and our new video series. I had a lot of fun helping out with our live coverage of the ITC Sectionals and getting to see some of the best and brightest young bowlers in the sport.

For this edition, I’d like to introduce you to the topic of lane play, which is one of the most important things bowlers can work on to help improve their scores.

To keep things simple, we look at lane play as a function of two basic topics: 1) understanding the lane pattern and 2) learning to make adjustments.

First, the lane pattern can be broken up into three areas: 1) the SHAPE of the pattern, 2) the LENGTH of the pattern and 3) the VOLUME of the pattern.

The shape of the pattern can give you a roadmap of where the lanes can be played to give you the most margin of error. For example, when you are reading a lane graph of an oil pattern, the darker area of the pattern will show you where the oil volume transitions or tapers off, which can give you an idea of the best place to play at the start of competition.

The length of the pattern is going to be your second indicator of where to play the lanes, as the length will typically give you an idea of the overall amount of hook. Shorter patterns generally offer more hook, while longer patterns generally offer less. This is going to determine how much hook you’ll want to play and also where to line up on the lane. Again, due to longer patterns offering less hook, you’ll want to start closer to the middle part of the lane and keep the shape of your shot a little more on the straighter side. On shorter patterns, you’ll typically want to start more to the outside part of the lane to allow for the additional hook.

The last piece of the lane pattern topic is the volume of the pattern. Obviously, the higher the volume of the pattern, the less hook there will be, but this is where you’ll want to look mostly at the kind of ball you are going to use, both from a core and coverstock standpoint. Higher volumes typically mean you’ll want to use balls with stronger cores and also more surface to counteract the additional oil, and vice versa for patterns with lower volumes.

Next, let’s discuss the basics of making adjustments. We break adjustments down into two basic categories: Major and Minor. The major adjustments include moving your feet on the approach and your target on the lane and also your choice of ball. Minor adjustments include things like altering your speed or tempo, changing your hand position at release or using more or less loft. Typically, the major adjustments will get you to the part of the lane that will give you the best possible chance of scoring and the minor adjustments can help you fine tune your strategy to optimize margin for error, carry or to allow you to continue to play a part of the lane where you’re more comfortable as the lanes transition.

As our series continues, we’ll be getting much deeper into this topic, since it is one of the most important (and fun) in our sport. In the meantime, be sure to check out my latest video, and everything else in the BowlTV archive.    

Good luck and good scoring!


BowlTV The Coach - Stephen Padilla