The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes



Every bowling lane has a hidden oil pattern. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards finds out what that means.

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Every lane has a pattern. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Phil Edwards explores how they change the game.

Bowling isn’t just about a great ball and good form — if you want to understand the sport, you have to understand the lane.

Every bowling lane, including the one in your neighborhood alley, is coated with an oil pattern to protect the wood. But these patterns aren’t just for protection — the way in which oil is applied to the lane can affect the speed and direction of your ball.

These patterns are so important that recreational bowlers and professional bowlers bowl on vastly different patterns — the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) even classifies the patterns it uses in tournaments.

Phil Edwards met with professional bowler Parker Bohn III at his childhood bowling alley, Howell Lanes in Howell, New Jersey. He guided Phli through the complex strategy a pro bowler uses when encountering different oil patterns. Not only do they have to assess which pattern is in use, but they also have to judge how that pattern changes as the oil shifts and slides over the day. Knowing how to play a specific lane can be the difference between a title and second place.

But these patterns aren’t just for the pros — they’re relevant to recreational bowlers as well. Watch the video to see how you can use these patterns to step up your game.

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  • This is why I hate bowling

    Draw Clearly April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Belmo is better

    cuber 1020 April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Nicely done. Parker Bohn III is a bowling master. It's always great to watch his form and how he throws a ball. Good explanation on oil patterns too. I am trying my hardest to control my Ebonite Cyclone on my local garbage THS oily lanes. Ugh… the struggle is real.

    Dylan Smith April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Roman : it’s show time

    THE MAN April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Now…i want to go bowling

    Shawn April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • That creep can roll, man!

    Ramy Samman April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Dat not me

    Real Mike Clements April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • When they said "this is you" i got offended

    amateurbowler 300 April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • I think the American Pentagon will need give those bowling alleys a little bit of democracy.

    S k April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • 5:32
    You can just see his depression kicking in.

    Titanic April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • This still won't help me. MY BALL ALWAYS GOES INTO THE GUTTERS BECAUSE I AM A WEAK GENIUS.
    SMART, YES. STRONG? NO.
    For that reason the borders for the gutters are always up everytime I play, because otherwise the ball just magically gets attracted to them no matter how straight I roll the ball. >:( AND I HATE IT.

    Titanic April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Who here is also really good at bowling, and is just watching this because they are bored

    bachcottage2005 April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • It’s 1:20 and I’m watching this

    Gael Gonzalez Robles April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • That’s not me tho

    Danky Ducky April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • epstein

    jv01 April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Subscribe to yufeng yan

    Yufeng Yan April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • Secret till you ask an attendant: what is the oil pattern? Problem solved.

    My man! April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • If you are interested in learning more about HOW TO BOWL LIKE A REAL PRO check out this ultimate guide for bowling. Is the one I learnt from and I've been able to beat all of my coworkers! Its also very cheap considering how good it is. @t

    Carlos Sanchez April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • First guys not me freshmen 4th place state varsity bowler

    5 StarSmoker April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • literally, the ad before the beginning of this video was the exact same music

    we’re-all-pink -inside April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • I now understand more about Heisenbergs uncertainty principal than I do about bowling.

    ConsiderPhlebas April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply
  • I like the old-timey orchestra music in the background

    Krystof Dayne April 30, 2020 2:04 am Reply

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