Lane Transition – Part 1 by Ed Cotter

Transition…change… breakdown… carrydown…depletion.  What do these words have in common?  They are how bowlers’ refer to lane changes while bowling. 


In Joe Slowinski’s article, “The Myth of Carrydown – How the Lanes Really Transition”, he explains very well how oil depletes with the use of reactive resin balls.  Which is good to understand.  The article explains oil depletion and its effect on ball power.  But he leads you to believe that oil depletion is the main lane transition you have to watch out for, since carrydown is non-existent.  This is not completely true. 


Until urethane, polyester and plastic balls are no longer used, carrydown will occur.  While transition, change, and breakdown are universal terms used to describe lane difference from the start to the end of bowling.


How is this relevant and why is it important?  All the reasons would take a few more blogs to explain and will be forthcoming.


Lets start with; if reactive resin, urethane, polyester, and plastic balls are used by bowlers on the same pair of lanes, everyone is going to experience differing levels of carrydown and depletion.  Most of the time, paths are going to cross each other creating variances in carrydown and depletion.  Imagine trying to cope with depletion and carrydown at the same time?  If you are a league bowler, you probably already have.


Here’s something to keep in mind.  Think of reactive resin balls as a sponge.  Because they are designed to flare, roll over a new section of the ball, they carry the oil with them all the way to the ball return.  Think of urethane balls as an ink roller.  They roll through the oil and then leave oil on the drier part of their path as they travel the lane.  Polyester and plastic balls tend to be plows.  They move more oil to the sides of the path than they carry down the lane. 


There are a couple of things to note during league practice.  One is what types of balls are on the lane rack?  The other is what part of the lane are the other bowlers using?


You may be wondering why do I have to worry about other bowlers?  Valid question.  If you do not pay attention to the types of balls being used on your lanes you will be missing an important piece of information.  The types of balls will indicate the type of lane transition you will likely encounter through the night.


Why pay attention to where other bowlers are rolling their ball?  This will let you know where you maybe crossing ball paths.  If you remain inside or outside other bowlers, you do not have to worry about the other bowlers affecting your transition.  This is valuable information, if you are sharing or crossing ball paths with other bowlers. 


The first image shows ball paths at the start of league play.  All the paths cross each other somewhere.

ball path at the start of league play

 The second image shows the depletion of the reactive resin path and the carrydown of urethane and polyester/plastic balls.  Where the urethane and polyester/plastic ball paths cross the reactive resin path, new oil is deposited changing the depletion process.

ball path near the end of league play

ball path near the end of league play

You can review Joe Slowinski’s article at  I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

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