July 17, 2012
Shark Oil Pattern
At 43' in length, the Shark oil pattern is the longest of the PBA animal patterns. It is almost laid out as an inside-out house shot with lighter oil in the middle of the lane and heavier oil toward the gutters. This means that missing to the outside is not an option, as missing too far toward the gutter puts your ball into a point of no return area that leaves no chance of hitting the pocket. The layout of the oil forces bowlers to play deep inside, with the ball hooking sharply into the pocket further down the lane. Playing such a shallow angle often results in leaving the corner pins, which makes scoring on the Shark pattern medium at best.
I watched Chris Barnes throw a 300 on the Shark during the PBA tour this past season and then turn around and lose the final once the lanes began to change. His direct style of bowling was perfect on the fresher conditions, but once the pattern broke down and different lines became available, Jason Belmonte and his high rev rate were able to tear through the remaining oil and best Barnes. The takeaway: I should expect a gradual transition with more lines becoming available for those throwing high revs and more reactive balls.
Plan of Action
I think this is going to be one of the more challenging patterns for a few reasons. One is that I almost never play so far inside, so it will take some time getting used to playing in an area on the lane I rarely visit to throw strikes. Also, I tend to have difficulty consistently taking out the corners on a regular house patterns, so it will be hard for me to carry all ten pins on such a shallow angle. Once I find a line to the pocket, I hope that I will be able to make small adjustments to kick out the 7- and 10-pins. Until then spare shooting will need to be a high priority.
When I start practice this week I am going to line up with my left foot at about the 30 board and shoot at about 15 to see what type of reaction I get. I have found that over the last year I have slowed my ball speed slightly, which is going to work to my advantage on this pattern since the ball should begin to hook a little earlier. With the heavy outside oil, I can likely expect my opponents to play pretty close to my line, so I will need to be aware of the transitions and not be afraid to move my body and target left as the night progresses.