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Thread: Uneven Lanes

  1. #1

    Default Uneven Lanes

    After watching the PBA League Playoffs this week, I can't help but think that this is a perfect time to start a discussion on uneven "pairs" of lanes.

    1. What do you believe causes two lanes next to each other to play totally differently from each other?

    2. What do you look for when you are trying to figure out how to play each lane?

    3. What have you done to successfully overcome the differences?

  2. #2
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    1. Most of the time I think the cause is the lane topography. I have also heard that sometimes the lane machine doesnít oil the first lane as well as the rest of the house. Lastly, when your league doesnít get fresh oil, it can be a matter of who, and or how many whos, were bowling on the lane before you.

    2. Iím always looking to how straight and how far to the outside I can start.

    3. Most of the time it just takes slight difference in where I set up (side to side) and, or where I target. I did have one occasion where it took two different balls and a difference of 8 or 10 boards with my feet, an several with my target.
    John

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    Bowling God Aslan's Avatar
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    1. Anything and everything. No two surfaces on Earth are going to be exactly the same level...the Earth is round (sorry if that starts controversy). A builder can usually keep surfaces pretty level (ya hope)...but houses and buildings shift over time. Not to mention, even though wood lanes are all but gone...even synthetic surfaces are going to wear differently. Bowlers are throwing 6lb-16lb objects into them thousands of times...even the hardest surfaces are going to have wear. And the age of the center. Some houses are downright old...and they may resurface from time to time...but that doesn't mean they completely re-level everything back to when it was new.

    2. While I just stated the physics behind why two surfaces can't be identical...the fact of the matter is that lane topography differences are miniscule in how they affect ball movement compared to oil patterns and oil volume. So, in most cases...it's not a huge concern.

    In houses where you have a "split house"...where lanes are on opposite sides...like many in Vegas...the differences can be noticeable from one "side" to the other...but normally it's just a matter of getting enough warm-up shots in to know if you need to make a minor change in your feet/target on the right versus left lane.

    Rarely, during play...if there is enough difference in one lane to the one next to it....I 'might' switch to a ball on one lane and not the other...but its rare....1-3 times per season.

    3. If you play the same center all the time...I suggest taking notes of where you start on each lane. Once you've bowled a few times on every pair...you end up with a nice little diagram that shows you where you should start (feet/target) on each lane in the house. Doesn't mean you don't need to practice/warm-up to verify that starting line is going to be optimal...things other than topography are at play...but at least it gives you an edge over the other bowlers that I can GUARANTEE are not paying as close attention.

    Case in Point:
    For the center I "mapped out"...on the "low side", lanes 1-20, my target was about 13 with my left toe at about 25. One the first pair (1 and 2), the target was about 1.5 boards right and my feet 3 boards right. For lanes 21-40, the outside lanes you needed to start a bit further outside maybe 9.5-10.5 with your target...with your left toe between 18 and 20.5. Meanwhile, lanes 27 and 28 tended to play a bit drier....and I would usually start with my target at 12-13 and my left toe around 23.5-24.

    Was it a huge difference lane-to-lane? No. Like I said, topography is minor compared to other factors. The more likely reason for the differences at the end of the center was that is where the oil machines start and stop. In cold weather centers, during the winter, there are noticeable problems related to where the lane oil is stored. If it is stored in a very cold place, it will be thicker...especially on those first 2-6 lanes. That may require a lower volume to come out of the machine for those first few pairs...or a thicker/colder application that then spreads out as it warms up.

    My entire "map" of the center I studied...the target on all 40 lanes was between 9.5 and 13 and the starting point for my feet (left toe) was between 18 and 25. Even for an older center...a 'split house'...the difference lane-to-lane just wasn't a huge factor. BUT...any little edge you have over your competition...take it.
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    i always blame it on the lanes...lol.

    But seriously, being a lefty I don't usually see much difference but there have been a few times where I had to move 2 or 3 boards further on one over the other and one time recently I played one lane at the 7 board and the other at the 10 but those are very rare for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aslan View Post

    2. While I just stated the physics behind why two surfaces can't be identical...the fact of the matter is that lane topography differences are miniscule in how they affect ball movement compared to oil patterns and oil volume. So, in most cases...it's not a huge concern.
    I suggest you look up the Kegel Topography Study done about three years ago. In short they had Norm Duke, Pete Weber, and Rhino Page get lined up on a dead flat lane and then pitched the lane so it sloped from left to right but within USBC tolerances. Even though all three pros threw shots that were virtually identical to their previous strikes, only Duke came close to hitting the pocket.
    John

  6. #6

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    Aslan: "While I just stated the physics behind why two surfaces can't be identical...the fact of the matter is that lane topography differences are miniscule in how they affect ball movement compared to oil patterns and oil volume. So, in most cases...it's not a huge concern."

    I knew I could count on you to highlight the greatest misconception in modern bowling! Consider: modern reactive resin bowling balls only do one thing to the oil on the lane; they suck it up until it's gone. The oil doesn't move. It doesn't carry down. It just goes away. I recently had a tape taken after a four game league with two three man teams on the pair. The oil pattern that started out being 41' long, ended up at 34' in the track area on the right side.

    Once the oil is depleted, the topographic differences in the lane become more pronounced. As an analogy, imagine a banked race track covered with ice. If a car were to drive around the track at 15 mph, the back end would swing out to the right on the curves despite the bank in the track. Now imagine the same car entering a turn where the ice has melted halfway through the turn. The gentle swing of the rear end would quickly change to a hard dive to the left as the car hit friction. This is what happens to the lanes when the oil is depleted. Now imagine what would happen if the car suddenly hit a spot where the track was banked to the right instead of the left. Welcome to the wonderful world of lane topography.

    I can understand why you feel that topography has only minor effects, as you are a very speed-dominant bowler. Those of us with higher rev rates and slower ball speeds just cannot afford to ignore topography. Even the pros with all of their ball speed and rev rate during the league finals on TV this week, could not negate the differences in the topography of the lanes.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Anderson View Post
    1. Most of the time I think the cause is the lane topography. I have also heard that sometimes the lane machine doesnít oil the first lane as well as the rest of the house. Lastly, when your league doesnít get fresh oil, it can be a matter of who, and or how many whos, were bowling on the lane before you.

    2. Iím always looking to how straight and how far to the outside I can start.

    3. Most of the time it just takes slight difference in where I set up (side to side) and, or where I target. I did have one occasion where it took two different balls and a difference of 8 or 10 boards with my feet, an several with my target.


    You are correct J with saying the oiler doesn't do the first lane as well as the next. After the machine sits overnight or period of time, especially stored standing upright the oil tends to go back in the tank causing air in the lines. Now, I would think that something like this would be common knowledge to any bowling center and they would do what we do. If we start oiling lane 1, we run it down.....move to lane 2 and run it down then go BACK to lane 1 and do it again, then lane 2 again then move through the rest of the lanes. This ensures that the oiler is properly primed with both oil and cleaner. That is the PROPER way to do it. I did say common knowledge but that don't mean everyone cares enough to do it right or possesses that "common" knowledge. If the end pairs on either side depending on where they start are dryer than the rest then you know why.
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  8. #8
    Bowling God Aslan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Anderson View Post
    I suggest you look up the Kegel Topography Study done about three years ago. In short they had Norm Duke, Pete Weber, and Rhino Page get lined up on a dead flat lane and then pitched the lane so it sloped from left to right but within USBC tolerances. Even though all three pros threw shots that were virtually identical to their previous strikes, only Duke came close to hitting the pocket.
    I've not seen the study. Given my recent struggle on challenge oil conditions...where every minor little issue can have exponentially horrible outcomes...I imagine the pros would be affected by some things more than the average bowler.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobLV1 View Post
    I knew I could count on you to highlight the greatest misconception in modern bowling! Consider: modern reactive resin bowling balls only do one thing to the oil on the lane; they suck it up until it's gone. The oil doesn't move. It doesn't carry down. It just goes away. I recently had a tape taken after a four game league with two three man teams on the pair. The oil pattern that started out being 41' long, ended up at 34' in the track area on the right side.
    I'm not saying the oil doesn't "go away"...it does...absolutely. We wouldn't need to "de-oil" our bowling balls if they didn't suck up oil. There is video after video of proof. The ball manufacturers say so...it's not even debateable.

    The second part of your theory is "sort of" flawed. It's 'essentially' true...but 'depends'.
    1) Modern RESIN balls suck up oil. ANY plastic/urethane ball does not. As soon as someone throws a plastic and/or urethane ball...carrydown and lateral movement of oil is a certainty.
    2) 90% of PROFESSIONAL bowlers believe at least some carrydown exists. Whether that is from plastic spare balls or whatever the reasoning...you're asking folks to buy into something that 90% of the people who are getting paid to bowl at the highest level...would refute (sort of...the second part, not the first part).

    Quote Originally Posted by RobLV1 View Post
    Once the oil is depleted, the topographic differences in the lane become more pronounced.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobLV1 View Post
    I can understand why you feel that topography has only minor effects, as you are a very speed-dominant bowler. Those of us with higher rev rates and slower ball speeds just cannot afford to ignore topography. Even the pros with all of their ball speed and rev rate during the league finals on TV this week, could not negate the differences in the topography of the lanes.
    Agreed...and that makes complete sense. I'm not going to notice topography (or oil pattern) differences as much as someone throwing at 350rpm and 11mph...that certainly makes sense.

    I'm probably gonna hate myself for asking this question...but assuming we are all in agreement and absolutely terrified of the tilted lanes we are bowling on (not to mention icy road conditions)...why would one care? What could an AVERAGE bowler do with this information?
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  9. #9

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    Aslan: "I'm probably gonna hate myself for asking this question...but assuming we are all in agreement and absolutely terrified of the tilted lanes we are bowling on (not to mention icy road conditions)...why would one care? What could an AVERAGE bowler do with this information?"

    Two issues here. First of all, topography does not just mean "tilted" lanes. The lanes often have bumps and depressions that can cause total havoc with the path of the ball. Consider: if there is a "bump" in lane around the break point, balls that miss left will be going down hill, towards the pocket and beyond, while balls that miss right will be going downhill towards the channel. Conversely, if there is a depression in the same area, then balls missed left will be going downhill towards the channel, whereas balls missed right will be going downhill toward the head pin.

    To answer your question: The average bowler, by understanding that every miss is not a result of his/her physical game can start to learn to make adjustments from his/her "normal" shot.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aslan View Post
    I've not seen the study. Given my recent struggle on challenge oil conditions...where every minor little issue can have exponentially horrible outcomes...I imagine the pros would be affected by some things more than the average bowler.

    I'm probably gonna hate myself for asking this question...but assuming we are all in agreement and absolutely terrified of the tilted lanes we are bowling on (not to mention icy road conditions)...why would one care? What could an AVERAGE bowler do with this information?
    Here are the links to what I could find of the study. There used to be a longer video with all three bowlers and bit more explanation of the test.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnZ8d-I98oE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-3f...ature=youtu.be

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESgmP5PYO1A
    John

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