A bowling lane consists of 39 boards and measures 42 inches wide. It is 60 feet from the foul line to the head pin, with another 15 feet making up the approach area.Stock_Bowling_Lane

On the lane there are 7 arrows. These are located 15 feet down the lane from the foul line. The arrows are situated on boards 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 and are referred to as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrow, with 4th arrow being in the centre. You can count these arrows from left to right if you’re left handed and right to left if you’re right handed. On the approach you will notice that there are 7 dots at the foul line, and 2 other sets of 5 or 7 dots. The 2 other sets of dots (usually 5 each set), are located 12 and 15 feet from the foul line. These dots correspond with the arrows on the lane, being located on boards 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30. These dots are there to help bowlers line up for their shot.

The bowling centre will apply a layer of oil to each bowling lane to protect the surface from damage, and this highly viscous buffer between the ball and the surface will affect the movement of the ball. There are four major oiling patterns employed by bowling centres, each with it’s own unique characteristic.


Flat Oil

Flat oil is simple, it is an equal amount of oil across the entire width of the lane.


Block Pattern

A block pattern is very simple. It is where there is more oil in the middle of the lane, with less on the outside boards. This can also be known as a “wall”, where a wall of friction is created on the outside boards. For a hook bowler this is usually a very high scoring pattern. The hook bowler will place their ball on the lane where there is oil, angling it out to the edge boards where the friction increases and allows the ball to “turn over” and hook into the pins (hopefully into the pocket).


Reverse Block

A reverse block is exactly how it sounds, it is where there is more oil on the outside boards and less in the middle part of the lane. A reverse block is usually created by straight bowlers playing down the middle of the lane and
“stripping” or “drying” out the oil. It is a very hard condition to play on and every hook bowler’s nightmare.


Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree condition is commonly thought to be one of the fairest possible competition conditions. The oil starts at each side of the lane and goes into a point further down the lane, creating a triangle resembling a Christmas tree. This condition caters for all styles. It allows the big hook bowler or cranker to move deep into the middle of the lane and swing the ball out to the edge of the lane where there will be more friction. At the same time, this condition allows a lesser hook bowler or stroker to play up the edge of the lane.