Today we want to take some time to help you understand the concept of lane transition. It's a word we use quite a bit but some people don't fully understand what it is, what it means or how to combat it. Let's start with a formal definition.
What is transition?
There is a layer of oil applied to the lane. This oil is meant to protect the lane. Every time you throw the ball down the lane, that layer of oil is moved or absorbed. The oil can be pushed down the lane (rarely with current modern equipment), picked up by the ball, or absorbed into the ball (most common occurrence). These changes make up what is known as transition. The degree of transition and when it occurs can be hard to predict because there are a lot of factors that go into it. Some of these factors include:
- Type of Lane
- Type of Oil or Oils (Yes, lane machines can use 2 different types of oil)
- Who is bowling on the pair
- Where the other bowlers are playing on the lane
- What bowling balls are being used
- The Oil Pattern
The modern performance bowling balls accelerate transition because they are designed to absorb oil off the lane. Sometimes, the oil isn't absorbed quick enough and you can actually see it in the track flare on the ball when your ball comes back. This is why we recommend using That Purple Stuff on a microfiber pad every shot. By removing that oil from the surface of your bowling ball, it will keep your reaction more consistent. It will also increase the lifespan of your bowling ball.
Consistent removal of this oil from the ball and lane can make reading transition actually easier to predict.
On a typical house shot, there tends to be a higher concentration of oil in the middle of the lane and a lower concentration of oil on the outside of the lane. On the graph, this is represented by the dark blue concentration being more oil and the light blue concentration being less oil. This oil pattern is designed to help steer your ball to the pocket. As the oil is removed from the lane, bowlers begin experiencing more hook and it tends to be in the form of earlier hook.
How do you combat transition?
A common move when your ball begins to experience transition is to chase the oil line. That means you typically move toward the center of the lane. A common move with today's equipment is called a 3 and 2 move (3/2). This means move toward the inside of the lane 3 boards with your feet and 2 boards with your eyes. This does two things, it opens up the angle through the front part of the lane and moves you into the oil. This is big part of combating transition. By opening the angle through the front, you have given yourself error room in case you miss on the outside, where it is drier out. With the 3/2 move, you'll hit the dry part of the lane later down the lane which will cause your ball to hook back to the pocket. By moving into the oil, you have also given yourself more oil to help the ball down the lane farther before it hooks allowing it to hold line to the pocket.
Another way to combat transition is to change bowling balls. If you change to a ball that goes longer down the lane and smoother at the breakpoint, it will cause your ball not to see the transition as aggressively; which keeps you from avoiding a split.
How do you know when transition is occurring?
A sign is to watch your ball go through the pins. Watch this video on the 4 types of ball motion. Don’t focus on the ball motion.
Watch the balls go through the pins. You may need to watch it a couple of times and stop the video when it is leaving the pin deck. Notice how the Traction ball leaves the pin deck over the 8 pin (sorry the video is left handed but you get the idea). That means the ball is actually light into the pocket. So you are ok from a transition standpoint. Now see how the continuous ball split the 8 and 9 pins when it left the pin deck? Yep that’s a perfect pocket strike and that is what you want your ball to do every time. Next is the Angular ball and notice that is actually leave the 8 pin and exits the pin deck at the 9 pin spot. That is an indication you are experiencing transition. This assumes you are using the same ball and hitting your mark. A 4 pin for a righty or a 6 pin for a lefty is also your cue to make that 3/2 move. The tip here is watch your ball go through the pins and off of the pin deck. As your ball begins to hit high in the pocket, that is a key it’s time to move before you split.