"Easy" House Shots

Improving Your Game on House Oil Patterns

A house oil pattern has a lot more oil in the middle than on the outside.
A house oil pattern has a lot more oil in the middle than on the outside.

You may have read, heard or experienced the phrase, “Easy house shot.” But what does it mean? Is any shot in bowling actually easy, especially for a beginner?

Short answer: no. A house shot is any shot you throw while bowling on a house oil pattern, particularly your first ball of any frame.

For a beginner, a house shot may seem just as difficult as a Chameleon shot, or a shot on any other PBA oil pattern. That is, if you haven't been bowling very long, you probably don't notice the differences in oil much.

PBA oil patterns help you get better, but house patterns can help you get good. You can get better while practicing exclusively on house patterns, but by comparison, PBA oil patterns are much more difficult to the point a house pattern seems easy. Hence the term, "Easy house shot."

If you're still on your way to considering any aspect of bowling easy, fear not. The same reason some bowlers refer to house shots at easy can help you build confidence and get yourself on the way to becoming a good bowler.

Because of the way the oil is laid out, with a lot in the middle and less the closer the lane gets to the gutters, there are a lot of paths to the pocket. That is, the oil is dispersed in such a way that if you throw your ball so close to the gutter you think it might fall in, the dry lane hooks it right back at the pocket. Conversely, if you throw the ball right down the middle, the wet lane keeps the ball in line to the pocket.

You have a huge margin for error because of this. If you find a target you feel guides you toward your perfect strike ball, you’re going to strike or at least knock down nine on every throw when you hit that target. On a house pattern, you can miss that target by a lot—sometimes 3-5 boards—and still get a strike.

Get Good Before Getting Better

This is why PBA oil patterns help you get better, but house shots help you get good. When you bowl on a house pattern and start to figure out how your ball reacts to oil, how your style works with the lanes, where to stand, how fast to approach, et cetera, you learn a lot more about the game than you realize, and you’re rewarded with high scores.

Then, take all that knowledge to a sport league with tougher oil patterns. Sport (PBA) patterns don’t forgive, and you need to make good shots and the right adjustments. To a beginner, thinking about making adjustments can seem overwhelming, but after practicing on a house pattern for a while, you’ll find yourself instinctively adjusting to the tougher conditions of the sport patterns. Your scores will be lower on sport patterns, but if you bowl on a house pattern after completing a sport league, you’ll see a huge difference.

Lower Sport Scores Mean Higher House Scores

Sport patterns are more difficult, and you should prepare to have a lower average than usual. That's fine. You're getting much better than you realize. If you average 150 in a house league, you may find yourself averaging around 130 in a sport league. But when you return to the house league afterward, don't be surprised to find yourself averaging 170.

While there may be no such thing as an easy house shot in the beginning, there’s a reason the phrase exists. Practice, and soon enough, you’ll be talking about an easy house shot.