How Hidden Oil Patterns in Bowling Alleys Can Help Guide Bowlers to a Higher Score

In a striking episode of Vox Almanac, video producer Phil Edwards headed to his childhood bowling alley in Howell, New Jersey to explain a little known secret regarding hidden oil patterns on the floors of each lane that guide bowlers to a higher score. Pro-bowler Parker Bohn III demonstrated how it’s done.

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.