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Determining the Breakpoint Using the Rule of 31

This is an excerpt from Bowling Fundamentals-2nd Edition by Michelle Mullen.

An equation was developed to determine your approximate breakpoint, based on the distance of the oil pattern. You take the distance of length of the oil pattern and subtract the number 31 to figure out your approximate breakpoint at the end of that pattern. This is just an approximation. The surface of the lane itself, the type of oil applied, and the balls used during play will all affect the breakpoint.


For example, if the lane is oiled 42 feet, subtract 31 and your breakpoint will be around the 11 board, approximately 42 feet down the lane (the end of the oil pattern where your ball breaks; figure 9.4). You will have about a three-board area to hit at the breakpoint and still hit the pocket. So in this example, your breakpoint area is around the 10 to 12 board. Figure 9.5 shows a shorter 35-foot pattern and breakpoint.

Longer 42-foot pattern and breakpoint for right-handed and left-handed bowlers.

Shorter 35-foot pattern and breakpoint for right-handed and left-handed bowlers.


Breakpoint and the Pocket

On a flatter oil pattern, you will hit the pocket when you hit the breakpoint, and you will miss the pocket when you miss the breakpoint. The direction you miss your target will also be the same direction you miss the pocket. If you miss your target right, it will miss the pocket to the right. If you miss left, your ball will go left. Note: This is unlike the THS, where you can miss your target to the outside and it actually hooks back to the pocket! On flatter patterns, the way you miss the pocket is a true reflection of how you missed your target.


If you miss the pocket to the light side, you missed your breakpoint to the outside (figure 9.6). If you miss the pocket to the high side, you missed your breakpoint to the inside (figure 9.7). Therefore, you have to adjust your angle to get the ball into the breakpoint, rather than move on the lane as if are trying to find more or less friction on either side of a heavy oil line like on the THS.

Missing to the outside and angle adjustment.

Missing to the inside and angle adjustment.

Read more from Bowling Fundamentals by Michelle Mullen.