How To Play on Sports Shot Oil Pattern?

Understanding sport shot oil pattern

Playing a sport pattern can be crucial if you’ve only started to improve in bowling. To become an advanced or pro bowler, you are gonna have to face the sport patterns one way or another. As you gradually get better in competitive bowling, you will encounter sport shots during league games or other tournaments. Clearly, they are more challenging and tougher than a house pattern, so it isn’t too easy to score unlimited strikes. That’s why today we will explore why sport patterns are medium to low-scoring, differentiate them from THS, and learn how to play them effectively.

What is the Sport Shot oil pattern?

sport shots have so many different variations. They vary in oil distance and oil volume. Sometimes the pattern length can be as short as 32 feet or as long as 53 feet. What makes sport shots harder compared to the THS is that there’s not always enough hook to the right and oil in the middle. In sport shots, the oil is evenly dispersed from board 1 to board 40.

Another thing that makes sport shots tricky is that they are so flat. Most of the time the ratios are in-between 1:1 and 3:1 which makes the back part of the lane flat with evenly dispersed oil. This makes your breakpoint window a bit shorter and a little bit narrow. When the oil ratio is 3:1 or less you will see more oil to the outside and less volume of oil in the middle part of the lane compared to a THS. That’s why you have to be very precise and accurate when throwing a bowling ball down the lane.

How to attack the Sport Shot oil pattern?

You can find tons of tips and tricks on the internet on how to play a sport shot oil pattern. But before you learn each sports pattern individually, you should learn some basic rules that will save your time and energy and give you a solid knowledge of where to start. The best way to know how your pattern is going to play is to find out where your breakpoint is going to take place. For that, the ‘Rule of 31’ works best.

But to calculate where your estimated breakpoint is going to be, you’re gonna need a pattern sheet or graph to help you understand what you’re about to face. For that, you need to learn how to read a pattern sheet properly. Remember, this is not a complete guideline, rather it is just a basic idea on how to get started on a bowling sports shot oil pattern. There are lots of other factors that determine how and where your bowling ball is gonna hit the pins. But reading the pattern graph and using the ‘Rule of 31’ is a nice start.

But what do you do when you don’t have a graph with you? Well, this is when you will have to get lined up on a sport shot pattern. So make sure you learn how to get lined up on a sport shot oil pattern. Once you find the (or estimate) correct board to roll your ball, observe how your ball is reacting to the lane, how it is reading the front lane, and how are the backends. If all seem to work out fine, now it is your time to maintain consistency in your shots and make necessary adjustments as the lane transitions.

Which bowling balls are best for these patterns?

Using the right piece of equipment is everything to attack a sports shot oil pattern perfectly. However, based on how long or short a pattern is, you might need to go for a different bowling ball. But one thing to always keep in mind is that all the sport shots are flat. So opting for a bowling ball that being great for flatter patterns is always safer. You don’t want anything too strong or too weak. You also don’t want a ball that will wiggle a bit after the exit point and hit the pins hard to confirm some strikes.

For most sport shot oil patterns, you can go for the Radical Maximum Results, Roto Grip Gem, Storm Pitch Black, Brunswick Cutting Edge Solid/Hybrid, Pyramid Force Unleashed, Ebonite Verdict Day, or Track Paradox (Original or Black).

To assert dominance on any sport shot oil pattern you will do great with any of these bowling balls— Hammer Web Tour Hybrid, Ebonite Aero, Storm Hy-Road Nano, Motiv Purple Tank,

900 Global Aspect, Roto Grip Dare Devil, Pyramid Path Rising Black Solid, Ebonite Game Breaker 4, Ebonite Stinger Hybrid, etc.

Some of the most popular bowling balls professionals love to use on sport patterns are—Storm Axiom/ Axiom Pearl, Storm Phaze II and III, DV8 Active8, DV8 Medusa, Brunswick Twist, Storm Parallax, , Brunswick Quantum Evo Solid, Storm IQ Tour, Pyramid Antidote Pearl, etc. 

Difference Between House Patterns and sport Patterns

Simply put, house patterns are much easier than sport patterns. As a result, the house shots are high scoring whereas the sport patterns are medium to low scoring. In a house pattern, less amount of oil is applied closer to the gutters (on the outside) while the middle part of the lane has a higher concentration of oil. Because of that your bowling ball is funneled into the pocket as it hooks back more easily from the outside. With a THS you have wide angles of entry and so curving the ball gets very easy. You can miss a bit to the right or left of your target board and still make a strike happen. Thanks to the bigger margin of error.

With sport shots, you don’t have this luxury. In sport shots, the oil is evenly distributed both on the inside and outside. Therefore, when you bowl from the inside, your ball tends to slide and stay in the middle of the lane throughout its journey. This tightens up your angles of attack and so precision becomes the key. You will also have a smaller margin of error. So if you miss your shot by even just a few (let’s say 1 or 2) boards, it will completely jeopardize your shots and leave you with a lot of pins still standing at the end of the lane.


Long story short— right ball for the right job on the correct board and most importantly, flawless execution. The Sport patterns really do test you on every level. Just keep on practicing these patterns. With enough experience, nothing will be too tough to tackle. So good luck and happy bowling!


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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