This is you. This is a professional bowler. He’s got great form. He’s been practicing for decades. But he also sees a hidden pattern on every
lane every time he bowls. Understanding the hidden oil patterns on every
lane is a key to understanding bowling. It separates the pros from the rest of us. And
these nearly invisible patterns can completely change how you bowl. This is not just some guy. This is Parker Bohn III. He’s won a mess of titles and earned more
than three million dollars bowling. He’s been turned into an arcade game. To explain bowling, he’s got to crouch like
this. And point at barely visible lines. Here’s your typical bowling lane. 39 boards. It’s got targeting guides, like the dots
and arrows – if you want a rule of thumb, each arrow is five boards apart, with the
middle arrow at the 20th board. For a strike, you want your ball to hit between
the one and three pins or the one and 2 pins. This area is called “the pocket.” That’s just the beginning. Every lane is coated with oil. It started for protection, but today, these
oil patterns hugely affect strategy and scores. “Right here, the pattern that they’ve
put out onto the lane is roughly 41 feet in length.” Every bowling lane has a pattern, usually
placed by an oil machine like this one. The PBA knows showing oil patterns is crucial. Sometimes they even put blue oil on the lanes. Here’s Bohn bowling on one. “Come on. Yes baby!” Here’s what typically happens. See how the blue is darker in some spots? That represents more oil on the lane. Your ball starts here, and because there’s
a lot of oil, it skids along the top. Think of your tires skidding on ice. As you get further down, the oil thins out. If you put spin on your ball, it starts getting
enough traction to hook a bit as it grabs onto the wood. Less oil, more traction. When there’s no oil left, that spinning
ball will start rolling toward the pins, because it’s picking up a lot of friction on the
lane. That’s really important. To hit “the pocket” – that sweet spot
between pins — only hooking can help you do that,
and hooking depends on oil patterns. You can see it as Bohn bowls. Outside, then a hook in when the oil stops. Strike. But for pros, knowing there’s oil on the
lane is just the beginning. These are the tour oil patterns of the Professional
Bowlers Association. The PBA. They have crazy names like Badger, Bear, and
Cheetah. And they affect play a lot. “I like the Cheetah cause I grew up playing
the gutter. I love throwing my ball out near the edge
of the lane and letting it hook back.” Let’s break down what that means. There’s less oil on the side. Less oil helps his ball hook early, because
it skids less. And because Cheetah is a short pattern — 35
feet instead of, say 41 feet — the ball has more space on the boards, without oil. He can play closer to the edge, because there’s
more time to get back to the pocket and hit the pins. On a longer pattern, you’d want to play
closer to the middle, because the ball would have less time to get back to the pocket once
you leave the oil. A pro bowler adjusts their speed and ball
type around this, and they have to make all these considerations with every different
pattern. And that’s not all. The oil on a lane is constantly changing. “As the day progresses, as your league progresses,
guess what just happened to your lane – it really started to break down.” See this pattern on the right that Bohn drew? These are from right handed bowlers. Their balls drag out oil over the course of
a day. That means bowlers have to compensate by bowling
more weakly or closer to the center, because the lane has changed. You can see where this ball has picked up
oil. Look at the lines. Changing oil makes lanes really complex. “Look right there, you’re gonna see oil
there.” “See, there’s some oil right in here we
can see.” “There is a ball that has brought oil down
there. When? We don’t know.” That means bowlers have to change their strategy
as the lane breaks down. If they’re a lefty like Bohn,
it even gives them an advantage. Fewer people are bowling on their side, so
the oil breaks down less. So although a bowling alley might make you
think of a basketball court, because of the wood floor,
for pros, it’s more like a golf course, where every hole is different. Every lane is different too. So how can people who aren’t as good as
Parker Bohn III use that to their advantage? Let’s say you are a totally recreational
bowler. A high school kid on a Friday night, a half-drunk
college student, a friendless video producer who’s greatest thrill in life was standing
on a bowling lane. You’re not gonna buy a specially engineered
ball or take classes on form. Bowling is complex. This is like advice for the first move of
a chess game. But there are ways you can use your oil pattern
knowledge to improve your game. This is a “house pattern.” You’d find this in a typical neighborhood
bowling alley, probably one like yours. It’s usually about 32 feet, buffed out to
40 feet. It’s designed to help you knock down pins. All that oil in the center helps you stay
longer in the middle if you shoot your ball there, so you won’t hook too early. Less oil on the side helps you hook earlier
if you aim too far from the pocket. The pros have a really flat pattern like this
one in the US open. They get no help at all from the oil. But you get guided to the middle by the oil. It’s like an extra bumper! There’s a rule of thumb for where to aim. “If you take whatever the length is minus
31, that’s the rule of thumb. Minus 31 gives you a very good, formulated,
idea of where your ball should be at the end of the pattern. In this case, we’re looking at approximately
41 minus 31, means that we’re going to be at approximately the 10th board. ”
So shoot for around that 10 board – this arrow – maybe a little further out for your light
ball. And try for that hook. The lane is built to help you, even if you
have a cheap plastic ball and terrible form. So maybe this is not you. But this doesn’t have to be you, either. So if you want to learn more about bowling,
this video just scratches the surface. One of my favorite channels is the USBC’s
Bowling Academy. They have really in-depth videos that will
tell you everything you need to know about bowling patterns and also higher strategy
when it comes to bowling.

The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes
Tagged on:                                                                                                             

100 thoughts on “The hidden oil patterns on bowling lanes

  • April 25, 2019 at 11:08 am
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    Congrats your a pro now

    Reply
  • April 26, 2019 at 12:57 am
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    Shoot me now. 🙁 That awful 1950's elevator music

    Reply
  • April 28, 2019 at 6:25 pm
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    Oil?! US Army coming!

    Reply
  • April 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm
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    I'll be your friend!! Well made video man!

    Reply
  • May 4, 2019 at 12:56 pm
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    This is interesting. I didn't know much about bowling. It is much more than rolling the bowling ball straight to the pins.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 1:06 pm
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    i woud put up a windshield and sail away~

    Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 11:48 pm
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    Ok thx for saying me so I can win my friends at bowling

    Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 3:29 pm
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    Lol the beginning:
    Don’t assume I’m the amateur over there XD

    Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 4:35 am
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    Its really weird when you live in the area and know his kids, who also happen to be state champion bowlers…

    Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 9:05 pm
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    America this bowling alley needs some democracy

    Reply
  • May 9, 2019 at 4:04 pm
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    I've watched this video several time and this is the first time I noticed the 82/30's.

    Reply
  • May 10, 2019 at 1:28 am
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    Bowling is such a boring sport tho

    Reply
  • May 10, 2019 at 9:24 am
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    Nico cousin let's go bowling

    Reply
  • May 10, 2019 at 8:40 pm
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    I once slipped on that oil.. and broke my freaking arm

    Reply
  • May 11, 2019 at 1:53 pm
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    0:04 so youre saying that im a fat middle aged man but in reality im a fit 12 year old. And i dont throw a bowling boll in the air as if im playing cricket

    Reply
  • May 11, 2019 at 4:32 pm
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    The amount of height that that guy lofted the bowling ball in the beginning mentally hurts me

    Reply
  • May 17, 2019 at 9:19 pm
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    If you think you knew bowling you were wrong

    Reply
  • May 18, 2019 at 2:01 am
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    I am not NOOB,I can do five bagger

    Reply
  • May 18, 2019 at 5:03 pm
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    i want to go bowling now.

    Reply
  • May 19, 2019 at 1:18 am
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    My grams played and she could throw the ball almost into the gutter and it spins right into a strike Or, the Cheetah….She had dozens upon dozens of 300 trophies… 32yrs she bowled and I would love to sit and watch her in tournaments 2 times a week.. I miss her so much….

    Reply
  • May 21, 2019 at 9:59 am
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    me on a bowling date
    shoe desk worker: so what size do you need?
    me to the lady: so is this a badger, bear or cheetah lane ?
    my date: confused
    my date: leaves

    Reply
  • May 23, 2019 at 12:56 am
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    : Bowling lane has oil

    U.S.A: I about to ends this whole mans career

    Reply
  • May 24, 2019 at 12:12 am
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    How do you even learn the length of the alley? Ask the workers?

    Reply
  • May 24, 2019 at 1:00 am
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    Next thing you know, oil lines are just an inside joke for professional bowlers to make fun of non-professional bowlers.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 12:27 am
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    Funny moce

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 1:09 am
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    ok but WHY

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 12:16 pm
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    tries to make a perfect bowl

    accidentally hits myself

    GAHHH CRAP!!

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 11:13 pm
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    never knew about this oiling thing in the past … very educational, loved it!

    Reply
  • May 26, 2019 at 4:29 am
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    With no knowledge of how bowling work at least I know some exploits and information for now

    Reply
  • May 27, 2019 at 12:01 pm
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    Bowling screens when you hit a stricke

    Reply
  • May 27, 2019 at 8:54 pm
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    Umm that was not me wtf

    Reply
  • May 28, 2019 at 1:46 am
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    Now I know why I slid like a pig on grease on a bowling lane lol

    Reply
  • May 30, 2019 at 1:03 am
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    1:36 US Marines have declared war

    Reply
  • May 31, 2019 at 2:53 am
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    My dad is a pro bowler so I've pretty much always known about thses patterns and just assumed everyone else did also lol

    Reply
  • June 1, 2019 at 12:18 am
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    😀
    👕
    👖
    👞 This is you.

    Reply
  • June 2, 2019 at 4:02 pm
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    Use meters

    Reply
  • June 3, 2019 at 8:38 pm
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    Anyone else ever went to far into the line and ended up slipping and rolling becuz its slippery?

    Reply
  • June 4, 2019 at 3:51 am
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    How much longer until we are infinitely knowledgeable alongside Google living in our brain?

    Reply
  • June 4, 2019 at 6:04 am
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    0:00 that’s actually true

    Reply
  • June 4, 2019 at 10:57 pm
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    No you just need to overhand bowl

    Reply
  • June 5, 2019 at 9:36 am
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    HIDDEN is sensationalist. UNSEEN is more like it.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2019 at 4:46 am
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    Parker Bohn III: plays bowling
    The dude in the bowling alley screen that shows up when you get a strike: Ah ****, here we go again.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2019 at 5:51 am
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    This guy is making it sound like High school students are bad at bowling 🙄 because there’s around 10,000 high school kids that average 200 or higher yeah we are bad

    Reply
  • June 7, 2019 at 8:54 am
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    I will use this for wii sports.

    Reply
  • June 7, 2019 at 12:12 pm
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    Yet both don’t use house bowls

    Reply
  • June 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm
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    Didn’t know you could make a living off bowling

    Reply
  • June 10, 2019 at 1:16 pm
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    About two weeks ago I went bowling with a couple of friends and then all of a sudden that little machine that takes the pins away got hit with my friends ball and it got stuck!

    Reply
  • June 11, 2019 at 6:07 pm
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    Nobody :
    Roman : Hey Niko it's Roman, let's go bowling !

    Reply
  • June 14, 2019 at 2:07 am
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    Im a pro

    I could fall onto the lane beside me when i was a toddler

    Reply
  • June 17, 2019 at 3:48 am
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    At 5:22 , where did you get it ?

    Reply
  • June 17, 2019 at 10:09 pm
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    Is this like pixels where what’s his name Brett or something like that sees a pattern

    Reply
  • June 21, 2019 at 7:11 am
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    I HAD NO CLUE wtf oil!?

    Reply
  • June 22, 2019 at 1:49 pm
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    I play bowling
    *practice
    It also depends on the bowling ball

    Reply
  • June 25, 2019 at 9:01 pm
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    can’t wait to show my knowledge next time i go bowling in like 5 years

    Reply
  • June 25, 2019 at 11:48 pm
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    So I’m not a bad at bowling, I just don’t know about the oil patterns…. nice

    Reply
  • June 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm
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    Who tf throws there bowling ball up to the sky? Yall askin to get nothing

    Reply
  • June 26, 2019 at 10:41 pm
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    BREAKING NEWS

    Usa is invading bowley alleys for oil

    Reply
  • June 27, 2019 at 9:18 pm
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    that 5th badge tho…

    Reply
  • June 28, 2019 at 9:41 pm
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    So am I supposed to be able to just figure it out or do i have to embarrassingly ask a worker what oil pattern they use?

    Reply
  • June 29, 2019 at 12:27 am
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    O I L
    Breaking bews america claims all bowling lanes

    Reply
  • June 29, 2019 at 3:14 pm
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    This is the difference between your house bowler avg 230 and the folks on tour. Not taking away from the 230 but the tour guys can hit a penny 45 ft down the lane consistently. (The top guys). House pattern usually allows the better players the ability to miss by 10 boards and still have success. Roughly 15 pennies! HUGE difference!

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 5:49 am
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    I think to reword the phrasing for cheetah pattern. We need to play closer to the gutter because we need more time

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 5:51 am
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    Oil pattern is only the beginning. Ball speed, rev rate, hand position, etc add even more variables

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 9:54 pm
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    SOOOO.. your telling me the house WILL control upon with the condition they applied,, will determine if I join a league next year

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 9:55 pm
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    DONT ANSWER.. I know the answer…

    Reply
  • June 30, 2019 at 9:56 pm
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    My Wife agrees

    Reply
  • July 1, 2019 at 6:33 pm
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    Niko bellic and romano would be proud

    Reply
  • July 2, 2019 at 11:56 pm
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    Irvine lanes?

    Reply
  • July 3, 2019 at 9:38 pm
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    Is like if a football court was tilted towards one of the sides, like, not fair

    Reply
  • July 5, 2019 at 5:46 pm
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    the music is very nice~ can you tell me what song it is ? thanks

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 12:09 am
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    I'm a leftie.

    Reply
  • July 6, 2019 at 9:57 am
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    Blown away by this to be honest

    Reply
  • July 8, 2019 at 1:12 am
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    Genuinely curious about the almost 4000 downvotes on this video… They admit up front that this only scratches of the surface of bowling complexity and refer you elsewhere for more in-depth knowledge, so it can't be bowlers downvoting this. Maybe they are political folks who just automatically downvote Vox even if it's just a video teaching about bowling

    Reply
  • July 9, 2019 at 4:15 am
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    0:02 why do i have to be a nerd

    Reply
  • July 9, 2019 at 9:06 am
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    Roman Bellic wants to know ur location

    Reply
  • July 9, 2019 at 5:56 pm
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    Black Cloud Diner

    Reply
  • July 10, 2019 at 9:54 am
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    I once thrown a bowling ball backwards both in-game and irl

    Reply
  • July 10, 2019 at 10:10 am
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    So your telling me that homer simpson see's these patterns too?

    or is he lucky

    Reply
  • July 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm
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    I hope the guy in red is your friend, else you just roasted a complete stranger so bad

    Reply
  • July 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm
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    If anyone wants to know the song in the beginning, it's Duet of the Flowers. It's a heavenly piece.

    Reply
  • July 14, 2019 at 11:42 am
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    Oil patterns is nowhere near the top my and other people's concern when i'm bowling😂

    Reply
  • July 14, 2019 at 5:14 pm
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    Bold of you to assume I'm not a professional bowler

    Reply
  • July 15, 2019 at 6:50 pm
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    I thought those oil machines were vacuums 😂

    Reply
  • July 16, 2019 at 4:45 am
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    Ahh so I’m a professional

    Reply
  • July 17, 2019 at 5:07 pm
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    Now I know the tricks but won't try it to avoid alleys banning me from entering 🤣

    Reply
  • July 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm
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    Actually i bowl for a sport for about 6 years now so i know the patterns on the lanes to
    So HA!!

    Reply
  • July 19, 2019 at 11:45 am
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    me: throws ball over all the oil and breaks the lane so no-one can bowl

    Reply
  • July 20, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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    0:03 but what if you’re a professional bowler?

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 1:21 am
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    stop dreaming dude, you aint ever gonna get a strike

    Reply
  • July 21, 2019 at 9:19 pm
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    One time, I was running on the lane, and I barely got on it and I slipped and fell. They’re very slippery

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 4:56 am
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    The professional bowler that I know is in Clash Royale.

    Reply
  • July 23, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    Now Im officially professional bowler. Freak yeah

    Reply
  • July 28, 2019 at 3:40 am
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    I threw the ball at the tv once

    Reply
  • July 28, 2019 at 10:28 pm
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    Wii bowling is better.

    Reply
  • July 29, 2019 at 1:38 am
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    I don't bowl, so why am I watching this?

    Reply
  • August 8, 2019 at 3:03 am
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    why don't they just re-oil lanes more often (especially is its just a machine); similar to a zamboni in between periods in hockey

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 3:48 am
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    Not when it’s cosmic Friday at the bowling rink

    Reply
  • August 12, 2019 at 10:51 pm
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    “Only hooking lets you hit the pocket”

    Bumpers: hold my oil

    Reply
  • August 17, 2019 at 5:30 pm
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    I never thought that, during my free time, I would be watching a video about bowling

    Reply
  • August 20, 2019 at 5:52 am
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    𝗨.𝗦 𝗚𝗢𝗩𝗘𝗥𝗡𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 𝗛𝗔𝗦 𝗘𝗡𝗧𝗘𝗥𝗘𝗗 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗧

    Reply

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