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How to Play the Phantom Pattern Bowling: Step-by-Step Guide

The phantom pattern bowling is a kegel bowling pattern

An oil pattern in bowling is simply the amount and distribution of oil on the lane. Some oil patterns are longer while others are shorter, and the amount of oil in a given spot can also vary. The oil distribution on the lane will also differ from pattern to pattern.

All these factors can have a significant impact on how your ball behaves on the lane with the Phantom pattern bowling. Oil patterns require a specialized lane machine to apply oil in two directions: forward and reverse. Forward oiling lays down oil from the foul line toward the pins. Then, reverse oiling goes from the direction of the pins back to the foul line.

As a quick tidbit, the higher the oil volume on a specific lane section, the less friction it will have with the lane and the less it will hook. On the other hand, the drier an area of the lane is, the faster your ball will travel and the more it will hook. As you bowl on any pattern, the oil distribution will change. And that means that the pattern won’t always behave the same way.

So, you need to be able to adapt your game accordingly as you conquer the Phantom pattern.

Let’s get right into it!

Phantom Pattern Bowling- What Is It?

The Phantom pattern is a 42-foot-long oil pattern used in leagues and bowling competitions, as well as select recreational bowling alleys. The pattern utilizes 26.7 ml of oil, with 14.85 ml of forward oil and 11.85 ml of reverse oil.

There’s combined oil (forward and reverse oil) from the foul line to the 25-foot mark and then reverse oil up to the 34-foot mark. The oil covers much of the lane, so there isn’t much dryness except in the areas along the gutters after the 8-foot mark.

A singles tournament is great for this pattern, as the dry part of the bowling pattern is on the outside.

How To Play on the Kegal Phantom Pattern: Tips and Tricks

The Phantom pattern is about midway when it comes to difficulty, so most players shouldn’t have too much trouble with it. That said, the pattern can play differently depending on your bowling style.

For hook bowlers, the breakpoint (or the point at which your ball stops going straight and curves toward the pins) will be extremely important for your scoring potential.

You’ll need to ensure that your throw is on point, or else you might not get enough hook to hit the pocket for a strike. The pocket is the space between the 1 and 3 pins for right-handed bowlers or the 1 and 2 pins for left-handed bowlers.

Straight bowlers won’t have a hard time with this pattern. Actually, they may find it relatively easy to score on. The high volume of oil on the pattern will help the ball roll straighter due to the lack of friction between the ball and the lane.

How To Bowl Better On Long Oil Patterns

How to Beat the Phantom Pattern

How you’ll bowl on the Phantom pattern will depend mainly on your bowling style. If you’re a hook bowler, you need to focus on finding the breakpoint and making sure your ball hits it.

The best way to figure out your breakpoint is to use the rule of 31 by subtracting 31 from the length of the pattern. So, for the phantom pattern, that would be 42-31=11. That means your breakpoint will be at the 11th board.

It can take some practice and work to tailor your shot to this target, but once you get it down, you’ll be scoring big on this pattern.

If you’re a straight bowler, the phantom pattern will be a piece of cake for you. So long as you have some aim and a general grasp of bowling fundamentals, you’ll miss less pins and rack up strikes and spares in no time.

Always be ready and willing to adjust your game. The phantom pattern can play quite differently from one game to the next, so it’s crucial that you’re able to adapt on the fly and make changes to your approach as needed.

That’s the key to just about any oil pattern because, with every single throw, the oil shifts a bit and some of it is picked up by the ball. 

Male bowler standing on lane and poses with ball in hands, back view trying to determine where to throw the ball.

Is the Phantom Pattern for Beginners?

By this point, you might be wondering whether the pattern is a good fit for beginners. Here’s the answer: If you’ve never bowled before or have trouble throwing your ball straight, the phantom pattern might feel a bit too challenging.

But if you’ve got the fundamentals down and just need a bit of practice, this pattern will be the perfect way to help you hone your skills. The great thing about this pattern is that it’s not too easy and not too tricky, so it will provide you with a good challenge without being overwhelming.

The bowlers in the background made a positive comment to the bowler at the line.

Which Ball to Use on the Phantom Pattern

The ball you use on the Phantom pattern is arguably as important as your technique. If you use the wrong ball, then you might not be able to get the results you want.

For the Phantom pattern, straight bowlers should opt for a spare ball (made of polyester/plastic). This ball type doesn’t have much hook potential, making it easier to get your ball to roll straight down the lane.

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Hook bowlers, on the other hand, should use a urethane or reactive ball. These ball types have strong hook potential, which will help you hit the pocket more easily.


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Bowling balls come in weights ranging from 6 to 16 lbs. No matter your bowling style, choose a ball weight that you feel comfortable with. If the ball is too heavy, you might not be able to control it as well. If it’s too light, then you might not be able to generate enough power to make an impact. 

The best ball weight for you may be 10% of your body weight; if you weigh 160 lbs or more, go with a 16-pound ball. Remember that this is only a guideline, and you should ultimately choose a ball weight that feels comfortable for you.

Right ball for phantom oil pattern

Where to Play on the Phantom Pattern

The Phantom pattern is not super popular in the bowling world, though it is gaining some traction in leagues and competitions. So, you’ll need to reach out to your local bowling alley to see if they offer this pattern or chat with other bowlers so they can share their experience with it.

The decision to try a particular pattern will often be made based on the number of bowlers requesting it. So, if you’re interested in bowling on the phantom pattern, let your local alley know.

Brower of the lane doesn't show the oil pattern on the two lanes tracks at bowling club with a bunch of bowls pins browser upt the lane.

Related Articles

So, there you have it – everything you need to know about the phantom pattern. This pattern can be a great way to improve your bowling skills, so if you’ve got the basics down, why not try it out?

You might just surprise yourself with how well you do. We hope this article has been helpful and that you’ll be able to read the pattern and to pull these tips out of your back pocket should you come across this pattern.

Happy bowling!