Sport Bowling Layouts

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This is an advanced topic meant to stimulate how we think about ball motion on flatter oil patterns.
Sport bowling is still very difficult, even with tuned layouts. These layouts will not turn sport bowling conditions into a house condition.
In most cases, these layouts are a tuning exercise and should only be attempted by those with a good understanding of the Dual Angle Layout system and Gradient Line Balance Holes.
Work in Progress This page in a nutshell: Sport Bowling layouts are meant to make a bowling ball read friction on the lane early and roll early to reduce the "Y" on fresh sport shots.


First its important to understand the difference between Sport lane conditions and Typical House shot conditions.
Watch this video by Jason Doust to understand the difference.
I'd find it difficult to do a more thorough job than this video.

Strategy for Sport vs. THS

THS versus Sport

The main differences between THS and Sport are:

  1. The friction window to hit (red boxes), where your ball does not skid too far and/or hook too soon is much smaller on sport bowling conditions
  2. Your available friction and non friction areas are much greater on THS, so you can adjust how much skid and hook you have just by moving your feet, this alone allows you to use tune your reaction as the night goes, with very little penalty for moving, if the ball skids when you miss in, you move right into more friction, or adjust your angle to the right for more friction, or both.
  3. Backends are double stripped on sport bowling conditions, where as on THS, they are likely not, so the difference in reaction between oil and dry, on sport bowling conditions, is far greater.

As you can see with the diagram to the right, the blue line is a typical speed dominant bowler, purple is a matched bowler, and orange is a rev dominant bowler.
On the THS each bowler can exit the pattern at different spots and still get to the pocket, on sport, each bowler should be very close to where the ball exits the pattern in order to score, otherwise, right of that is too much oil to recover, and too far left is too much friction from the double stripped backends.

Sport bowling layouts are different in hook shape, as you see in the diagrams.
Sport bowling layouts are more effective on sport bowling conditions because they do not continue hooking very long after they exit the pattern, and they also to not change direction sharply.
Regardless of the type of bowler, most success comes from the ball exiting the pattern at the proper location and at the proper angle.

Layout Methods

2 schools of thought.

  1. On shorter patterns use more continuation to control friction. Sometimes you will see those with weaker shelled balls, like urethane on Cheetah, but sometimes wont carry well due to decreased entry angle or the ball still hooking when it hits the pocket (which deflects). On longer patterns use a sharp breakpoint to cover as many boards as quickly as possible.
  2. On shorter patterns use less continuation, burn tilt and rotation quickly and allow the ball to roll forward to control the transition between oil and friction. On long patterns get the tilt and rotation to burn faster, and wait for the pattern to open up before using balls that have more hook and a sharper breakpoint.

Number 2 is what we will be looking for, and I'll explain why. When you use school for thought number 1, you're likely to get into trouble with the ball hooking when it hits the pins as it wont have time to roll forward and carry will suffer. Also, when friction becomes more and more as the pattern breaks down, continuation balls will hook more rather than roll faster. Your angles will get deeper, quicker and your moves to compensate may occur too soon, and the friction window to hit, when playing deeper will be too small and slight misses will become more amplified down lane.

When using school of thought number 2, ball reaction is simplified and will use a 2 phase approach. Use these sport layout balls when playing on the fresh, until the hook-set angle takes you away from the pocket and entry angle becomes flat. Then use slightly more continuous, or angular balls when the pattern breaks down and the pattern has more miss room. These balls are not meant for inside out play, like on house shots.

How to layout for sport bowling

THS patterns use layouts to expose friction, increase entry angle, and allow the bowler to play as deep as they want or as comfortable as they want to be. Sport bowling layouts control the back part of the lane and read where the end of the pattern is, and where the friction spots are within the pattern. How do we do this?
We burn tilt and rotation faster, reduce the drill angle to read the pattern early, and increase the VAL angle to smooth out transition.


Median bowler

Matched Speed to Rev Rate
15 Degrees of axis tilt
55 Degress of axis rotation

Typical House Shot Benchmark Asymmetric: 55 x 4 x 35
Typical House Shot Benchmark Symmetric: 55 x 3.5 x 30

Short Sport

Pattern length: 36 feet or less.

On this condition, I like to use Asymmetrics.
Why? Because I can control the drill angle easier, especially those with .018 intermediate differential or greater, because the PSA wont move much.
With symmetrics, you're guessing with holes, depth, on where the the PSA moves.
Target balls can be medium or aggressive covers, do not use weak covers with this layout, it will give artificial length.

The adjustment for the sport layout for the above median bowler would be 30 x 4.5 x 55 on a decently strong asymmetrical ball with a medium cover, matte surface, NOT POLISHED!
We dont want length, we want to read the end of the pattern, hook some and roll forward.
Totals are still similar, but the shape of the hook will be less left to right hook and more front to back.

If you decide to use a symmetrical cored ball, use one with a higher differential, and a medium cover.
This bowler would have something to the effect of 50 (Pin to CG drill angle wont matter much) x 3 x 50 and add a P3 hole at least 3" deep to get the ball to roll faster.

Medium Sport

Pattern length: 37 to 42 feet

Either Symmetric or Asymmetric cores can be used here. It can be a more mild asymmetric, somewhere in the .012 to .016 intermediate differential range. Stronger intermediate differential asymmetrics are still OK to use.
On symmetric cored balls, 0.040 or greater total differential, medium covers, matte finish.

Asymmetric: 30 x 5 x 45. Why? We're playing closer to the pocket to start on this pattern, we want the ball to roll forward faster.
Symmetric: 50 (Pin to CG drill angle wont matter much) x 2.75 x 40 + P3 at least 3" deep.

Long Sport

Pattern length: 43 feet or more

I like to use Asymmetrics only, because their potential to reach the roll phase is very fast.
I like to use a ball with a high intermediate differential, .018 or above and use a strong balance hole location like P4 to get the ball to hook early and roll fast but give entry angle, as you will likely start very tight to the pocket.

Asymmetric, medium coverstock, skip a grit finish for traction and response to friction, think 500/2000.
Layout: 35 x 5.25 x 35 + P4 or P3. The strong balance hole will make up for the slight uptick in Drill Angle.


You will notice with this method, we keep the drill angle fairly similar between the layouts to read the pattern early.
The adjustments are mostly related to how much hook we want before the ball rolls forward.
The same layout adjustment concepts apply to tilt and rotation differences, as well as speed or rev dominance, but we do not change the drill angle much at all, we still want the ball to read early.

Low tilt and low rotation, adjust the VAL angle higher and Pin to PAP lower (on asymmetrics) to adjust for their motion wanting to roll forward sooner.
High tilt and high rotation, adjust the VAL angle lower and the Pin to PAP higher (on asymmetrics) to adjust for their motion wanting to roll forward later.
Low tilt and high rotation bowlers, adjust the VAL angle higher and the Pin to PAP lower (on asymmetrics) since their ball motion will typically be very sharp down lane.


Bowlers should start the evening on the slope of the oil pattern and to the right and very straight to increase pattern forgiveness as the evening goes on.
This may mean not striking in practice, but seeing buckets and light hits throughout the practice session as the pattern loosens up.
Teamwork on the same line and/or more surface on the ball accelerates the process.
Fine tune length with surface adjustments before scoring starts if the hook shape is correct but starts too late. Typically, hook will not be too early.

Important: Tune the ball motion for each of these layouts with the P3/P4 balance hole to see the ball hook long enough for good entry angle, but still roll forward well before the pocket.
P3 & P4 balance holes will cause the ball to roll forward faster, meaning shorten the hook zone.
Start with small (3/4"), deep (3") balance holes then increase diameter to speed up the hook zone.

Pin to PAP controls how fast the bowler's tilt and rotation will burn before rolling forward.
VAL angle controls how much hook will occur before the ball rolls forward due to the Pin to PAP distance.
Drill angle controls how quickly the ball starts hooking once it hits the end of the pattern, or when it encounters friction.