A Key to Higher Scoring in League Bowling: Two of the Same Type of Ball

Posted by Ronald Hickland on

A couple years ago, I averaged 237 in a league. People often asked me for tips to having a high league average. Obviously there are a lot of factors that play into scoring. Most importantly -- the lane condition. What bowling ball or balls should you have in your arsenal for league bowling? Most league lane patterns or house shots are built to help you get your ball to the pocket. This is because there is typically a high concentration of oil in the middle of the lane and less oil outside.

As bowlers, we tend to use aggressive bowling balls that help to change the lane pattern as we bowl. This change in the lane pattern is called transition. This transition can work against us if we don’t see it quickly enough. It can force us to change lines, balls, physical attributes, etc quickly. If we are late in reading the transition, we usually start leaving weak corner pins or worse...SPLITS!

The truth is, there is a desired ball motion shape for each person which maximizes his or her own ability to strike. Most people have a favorite ball. This is the ball that they feel the most comfortable with or have the most confidence in the way it reacts. This ball typically works for a game or two, but eventually it has to be put up because of the lanes transitioning. One tip that I have found to be true is that using the same type of bowling ball drilled differently can be enough to help you avoid the pitfalls of transition and allow you to strike all night.

Pin up and Pin Down Versions of the Same Ball Type

Here are two of the same balls drilled differently.

I used these balls almost every week in league. The Pin Down ball (ball on the right) is designed to control the lane and works best when the pattern is fresh. It doesn’t overreact in the dry or underreact in the oil. The first game is typically when the lanes transition the most. Having a ball that is controllable is a good way to not experience the transition so quickly. My league average for game 1 was 232. As soon as this ball would begin to leave a flat 7 pin on a good shot; I would switch to the Pin Up ball (ball on the left). This ball would allow me a larger room for error and would allow me to capitalize on the change in the lane condition. My second game average was 243. As I continued bowling, the lanes would breakdown even more and I would need to move in and be able to open up the lane with the pin up ball. Sometimes the lanes would breakdown too much and the area for miss would be smaller. My third game average was 239.

Getting to a point where you are comfortable with what the balls do and being able to switch at any time is another key to managing the transition and keeping you striking. One week I changed balls in the middle of game 2 after leaving a flat 7 pin and didn’t think twice about it. In that series, I shot 269 258 279 for an 806 series.

Being Right Handed

Someone says, “Yeah! That’s great but, Ron, you’re left handed so that won’t work for a right hander because the lanes transition even faster.” However, right handers can use the same logic. A right hander has two options. Either add another ball for the additional transition change or have two balls drilled the same but with different surfaces. I’ll address surface adjustments in a later blog. If you would like a more personalized approach on how to score higher, be sure to visit our Coaching Services page to check out the coaching services we offer or book a clinic.

In the end, if you bowl on house shots, you don’t have to overthink your ball selection. More of the same with slight differences may be a better option than big changes with different balls.

#Education is Creating the Difference


  • I am using yourProduct they work fine I am getting good games but I ordered the lane play I haven’t got a chip can you help me stop depend up and pin down to say ball is good .


  • I didn’t know that there is usually a lot of a lot of oil in the middle of a lane then less on the outer sides of it. Recently, I’ve been trying to find something fun to do for exercise that doesn’t require me going to the gym. I’ll have to find somewhere to start going bowling. http://www.frontierbowl.net

    Amanda Drew on

  • I just like the words you say about the pin up & pin down I have ball just like that

    Eugene on

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