Tips for Bowling on Dry Lanes (Plus, the Best Bowling Ball for Dry Lanes)

As you progress into the fascinating and intricate world of bowling (seriously, this game is a lot more complicated than people like to think) you will begin to hear more and more phrases or terms that are new to you.

This, of course, is perfectly fine since learning what the phrases could mean helps you understand the game of bowling better and gives you an edge in your game. It is important however to make sure that when you learn a new phrase you take time to learn its meaning as well.

A couple new terms that you may have heard throughout the alley as you have bowled could have been the terms of ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ lanes. Normally when we think of the terms of wet and dry we usually think of water in some shape or form.

That is not the case with our bowling alleys. Instead the terms wet and dry refer to the saturation of oil on the lanes, a factor that could actually be affecting your bowling game!

What are Wet and Dry Lanes?

As a new bowler, you shouldn’t worry about oil patterns too much since you’ll first be working on throwing your ball as accurately as possible. However, as you progress into a better bowler you will eventually want to learn how to figure out lane conditions or ‘read the lanes’ as it is commonly called.

One of the best ways to do this is to figure out if the lane is dry or wet and what that exactly means to you as a bowler.

Wet Lanes:

When bowlers talk about how a lane is wet or ‘oily’ they are referring to the fact that there is some heavy saturation of oil down on the lane. Every lane has an oil pattern applied to it, this oil pattern, in turn, affects how a bowling ball will progress down the lane and how it will hook.

When there is a lot of oil on the lane it’s wet and the ball slides down the lane a longer distance before hooking.

A wet lane can usually be pretty easy to figure out and play on but don’t get too confident! Some wet oil patterns actually increase the level of a lane’s difficulty due to the fact that their oil saturation is so high the ball has a hard time hooking at all!

In order to figure out if you are facing this problem, there is one simple step you can do. Before you begin your game throw a few practice balls while aiming for the center dot.

If your ball refuses to hook, there is probably a high saturation of oil down and you can make adjustments to the right to combat this lane condition.

Dry Lanes:

As you might have figured out, a dry lane is the opposite of a wet or ‘oily’ lane. When a lane is dry there is less oil down on the lane and the ball tends to hook faster as it rolls down the lane. Due to this fast hooking, many bowlers find dry oil patterns to be very difficult to navigate.

This difficulty comes from the fact that many high-level bowlers usually utilize a hook throw (the arch of the hook varying by bowler’s style) to approach the pocket of the pins at a better angle. Since dry oil patterns cause hooks to happen quickly and shorten the length of the ball’s approach many bowlers experience difficulty adjusting their style to this problem.

To figure out if you are dealing with a dry lane you can once again approach the center dot. After you throw you ball watch if the ball pulls to the left as it rolls down the lane. If it does, the lane is probably dry and you need to make adjustments to combat this issue.

What’s the Best Bowling Ball for Dry Lanes?

When selecting a bowling ball for dry lanes it is important to know the basic criteria you should be looking for. A bowling ball is generally made up of two parts, the coverstock or surface of the ball and the core of the ball.

Weight plates and hole layouts play a part in a bowling ball’s makeup as well but the coverstock and core make up most of the bowling ball in its entirety.

When choosing a bowling ball that you want to use to tackle dry lanes specifically it is important to really look at your selected coverstock. The core is important in the fact that it controls the motion of the ball but coverstocks are in charge of a ball’s reaction to the lane.

You will want a bowling ball with a shiny or plastic looking cover that has a high polish (you can polish the bowling ball to suit your needs if need). These are stiff coverstocks that will help you transverse a dry lane more efficiently. A Poly-urethane coverstock bowling ball will probably suit your needs on a dry lane the best.

If you are more interested in finding a specific ball from a brand to suit your dry lane needs we have two recommendations for you.

“Pathogen X” by Pyramid

The first is Pathogen X from the brand Pyramid. This ball is one of the brands best sellers and for good reason. With an excellent core, pearl reactive coverstock and adjustable weight the pathogen is a heavy hitter in the bowling world.

Its strength, versatility, and kickback help it navigate through dry conditions with practiced ease, making sure there is no loss in power when it makes a break for the pocket.

The Pathogen X can be on the pricy side but this is one of those cases where you are paying for a high- quality piece of equipment. Sometimes the extra price tag can be worth it in terms of game improvement.

The ball can be used by beginners but is recommended towards more experienced bowlers since it is geared toward expert handling and powerful hooks.

“Path Rising” by Pyramid

Another good ball by Pyramid is the Path Rising ball; it’s a great entry-level ball for beginners trying to get a handle on dry lanes. With a symmetrical core for stability and a pearl coverstock Path Rising is built for high efficiency on dry lanes but can still be used on other conditions as well.

How Do You Make Angle Adjustments on Dry Lanes?

The key to figuring out the adjustments needed on your lane is to your have base throw mastered so that you can compare all other throws to your base throw. Many bowlers do this by aiming for the center dot during their warm-ups and making adjustments based off how their ball reacts.

As stated before, if the ball does not hook very well you may be dealing with a wet lane. In order to adjust to this, you need to make a shift to the right and turn your shoulders in order to ‘close’ them. This helps you adjust and deal with wet, oily lanes as you work out the lane conditions.

If the ball pulls to the left during your warm up, you are probably dealing with a drier lane. In order to combat a dry lane, it is important that you adjust yourself to the left and ‘open’ your shoulders.

This helps you navigate dry lanes better and helps your ball get down the lane and hook better. The important thing to remember while adjusting your angles is that you should make your adjustments in the same direction of the error.

So if you are having problems with the right side of the lane your adjustments should be based off the right. The same can be said for the left side of the lane, make adjustments on the left side to counteract any problems you should have.

How Do You Reduce Your Bowling Hook on Dry Lanes?

Another way you can traverse dry lanes is to work on reducing your hook on dry lanes. Doing this helps you combat the early break bowling balls undergo on a dry lane which will help prevent missed pins and pickups.

There are several ways to reduce your hook on dry lanes and several things you can try to change, though we recommend trying them one at a time to see how your style changes before you try changing your throws with different combos.

Changing Your Release

The key to having a good hook throw is all in how you release your bowling ball. Since the release is the first step in a good hook throw it just makes sense to start there with your adjustments in an attempt to get a reduced hook throw.

To adjust your release for a dry lane you want to produce less of a hook. In order to do this you need to carry the ball through but impart a smaller rotation on it with your fingers.

Start in your regular approach, making sure your ball is set up for a hook throw. As you approach your throw there are two things for you to try, less rotation from the fingers and a slightly titled wrist to give you fewer revs (revolutions) without losing power.

As you are preparing to release your ball into its throw tilt your wrist, which remains behind the ball, at a slight backward angle. This causes a longer skid motion as the ball moves down the lane, something that works well on drier lanes that cause early breaks.

During this time as you are tilting your wrist, you are also working on making sure your fingers are only giving your ball a slight rotation. You do not want a lot of finger rotation on a dry lane since this will cause your ball to hook early on the dry conditions.


Now that you’ve done your warm-up throws and you see how your ball is reacting to the lane it is time to make some lane alignment adjustments.

Based on how your ball reacted you can change the position of your feet during your approach and your target mark on the lane to help give your ball more of an angle to compensate for the dry conditions.

What is important to remember here is that adjustments should be done in the same direction, so if you move to the left a few boards you should try to move your target mark to the left an equal distance to adjust for the movement.

Ball Change

If you are looking to reduce a hook on a dry lane sometimes the only thing you need to do is switch up your bowling ball. Bowling balls come in many different forms, styles, and sizes and each ball reacts in a unique way.

If you are struggling with a hook throw on a dry lane it might help to switch to a ball that is specifically designed for dry lane conditions.

Change Your Ball’s Speed

Another method you can try is adding more force to your backswing, forward motion and release. By putting more power behind your throw you are increasing your balls speed and thus shortening the time it spends on the lane.

By doing this your ball has less time to hook incorrectly and can fall into the correct position when it begins its break towards the pocket. Be careful with this method though, since an increase in power usually means less control.


After you have practiced all these methods and have seen which one works best for you its time for a choice.

Do you pick one single method to reduce your hook and work on perfecting it or do you begin combining the methods to see if a combo works better for you?

Both are perfectly viable options for you, it all depends on your needs and your style!

What Causes Bowling Lanes to Become Dry?

There are a couple of reasons that a bowling lane may become dry. One reason is simply that it gets used a lot. If you come late in the day, the alley hasn’t run a machine in a few days or you come after a league or open bowl the oil on a lane could be spread thin and turned dry.

Another reason would be the particular pattern the alley has chosen to lay down on the lane. Different bowling alleys can choose different oil patterns to lay down on different lanes and some of these patterns may be drier than others.

These reasons are why it is so important to keep an open mind and test each lane with warm-up throws before you play. You never know what the condition of the lane will be so you never know what adjustments you will need to make.

It is important to remain flexible and do your adjustments before you begin your series in order to ensure a better score on the lane you have been given.

While dry lanes may be a struggle for some it is important to remember that the challenge is part of the fun!

Through hard work, practice, and learning how to read the lane you can be well on your way to breezing through dry lanes with relatively no problems. All it takes is an open mind and some flexibility into your style and you will be rolling strikes on dry lanes in no time!

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