How Hidden Technology Transformed Bowling

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Bowling has been reinvented many times over the past seven thousand years but especially in the last 30. This is the fascinating physics of balls, oil, lane and pins. A portion of this video was sponsored by Salesforce. Go to salesforce.com/veritasium to learn more.

Huge thanks to Steve Kloempken and all of Storm Bowling for letting us visit and get a glimpse into the crazy world of bowling.
Huge thanks to legends Chris Barnes and Pete Weber for taking the time to bowl with us.
Huge thanks to Creative Electron for their help with getting the bowling balls X-rayed. Check out their work here: creativeelectron.com/
Thanks to Ron Hatfield and James Freeman for their help with research. Check out their great book, Bowling Beyond the Basics: ve42.co/HatfieldFreeman
Thanks to the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) and Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) for their help with accessing archival data and footage.
Special thanks to Rod Cross for physics consultation.
Thanks to Bill Guszczo for giving us the idea to make this video in the first place.

Freeman, James, and Ron Hatfield. Bowling beyond the Basics: What's Really Happening on the Lanes, and What You Can Do about It. BowlSmart, 2018. -- ve42.co/HatfieldFreeman
N. Stremmel, P. Ridenour and S. Sterbenz. “Identifying the Critical Factors That Contribute to Bowling Ball Motion on a Bowling Lane.” United States Bowling Congress, 2008. -- ve42.co/BallMotionASQ
USBC Equipment Specifications and Certification Team. “Ball Motion Study: Phase I and II Final Report.” United States Bowling Congress, 2008. -- ve42.co/USBCBallMotion
Brettingen, Patrick, and Nicki Mours. “USBC static weight limits remain relevant.” United States Bowling Congress, 2011. -- ve42.co/USBCStaticWeight
Article on lane oil origins -- ve42.co/OilOrigins
Luna, Richard. “Bruce Pluckhahn says there's a little bit of bowling…” United Press International Archives, 1984. -- ve42.co/BowlingHistory
Johnson, Brody D. “The Physics of Bowling: How good bowlers stay off the straight and narrow.” St. Louis University. -- ve42.co/JohnsonPhysicsPpt
Talamo, Jim. “The Physics of Bowling Balls.” -- ve42.co/TalamoPhysicsPpt
Thompson, Ted. “Breakdown and Carrydown - Then and Now.” Kegel. 2012. -- ve42.co/ThompsonKegel
Frohlich, Cliff. “What Makes Bowling Balls Hook?” American Journal of Physics, vol. 72, no. 9, 2004, pp. 1170-1177., doi.org/10.1119/1.1767099 . -- ve42.co/FrohlichHook
Article on bowling’s ranking in participatory sports -- ve42.co/BowlingRank
Speranza, Dan, and Dave Nestor. “Initial Oil Absorption Results.” United States Bowling Congress, 2016. -- ve42.co/USBCOilAbsorption
D. Benner, N. Mours, and P. Ridenour. “Pin Carry Study: Bowl Expo 2009.” United States Bowling Congress, 2009. -- ve42.co/USBCPinCarry
Hopkins, D. C., and J. D. Patterson. “Bowling Frames: Paths of a Bowling Ball.” American Journal of Physics, vol. 45, no. 3, 1977, pp. 263-266., doi.org/10.1119/1.11005 . -- ve42.co/HopkinsPath
Normani, Franco. “The Physics of Bowling.” Real World Physics Problems. -- ve42.co/NormaniPhysics
Horaczek, Stan. “The insides of pro bowling balls will make your head spin.” Popular Science, 2020. -- ve42.co/HoraczekSpin
House shot oil pattern -- ve42.co/HouseOil . Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0.

Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Andrew, Diffbot, Micah Mangione, MJP, Gnare, Nick DiCandilo, Dave Kircher, Edward Larsen, Burt Humburg, Blake Byers, Dumky, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Mac Malkawi, Michael Schneider, Big Badaboom, Ludovic Robillard, Jim buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Alfred Wallace, Clayton Greenwell, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal

Written by Derek Muller and Emily Zhang
Animations by Mike Radjabov and Iván Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller, Trenton Oliver, and Emily Zhang
Edited by Trenton Oliver
SFX by Shaun Clifford
Additional video supplied by Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sounds
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, and Emily Zhang









コメント数 7 851
Carl HIRST 13 分 前
I knew they were all cheating!
xSerenity 時間 前
only thing missing from this video is it doesnt actually teach u how to hold the ball. Thumb in only and not the other 2 fingers? towards which side? :/
Daren Allison Young
Daren Allison Young 2 時間 前
Years ago, I learned the same thing about professional mini-golf balls. Yes, there is such a thing as professional mini-golf! A pro player would show up with a small briefcase of balls with different cores that dramatically varied the way the ball rolled on different surfaces and to bypass course obstacles.
Harley 5 時間 前
I just love that no matter what niche thing you’re looking into, there’s always multiple hidden layers to it and there’s always a human that performs at a world class level at it. Amazing.
Peter Houle
Peter Houle 6 時間 前
we need the oil
Weslly Labrador
Weslly Labrador 6 時間 前
PangaeaPanga sent me here
CoL_Drake 14 時間 前
i feel bowling getting more popular in germany but i still think that "kegeln" i think its called nine pin bowling in english or also kegeln ? (the ball has no holes for ur fingers) is still wider and more popular here by a lot
mason appalachiantrail
This is awesome. Thanks!
oddjobbob 22 時間 前
Bowling, like Sumo, is the only perfect sport. They depend only on the effort and technique of the athlete, there is no one right technique, there is no perfect athlete, there is a perfect score possible. This was borne out to me some years ago when I heard on NPR (so you know it must be true, since it is fact based story-telling) the following: In a mid-western bowling league a particular athlete, in league play, had thrown 11 strikes. As he was getting ready for the last roll, and before the pins were even set, there was a power outage. He was given the choice, come back the next day after power was restored and roll the last ball. Or, the pins would be set by hand, all the artificial lighting available would be used to light the lane and he could take the part roll then and there. He took the latter and scored a perfect game getting a 12th strike.
allDigital 23 時間 前
They've got a lot of balls
Fractal Equation
K1ng Purpl3
K1ng Purpl3 日 前
I want to make bowling balls for a living... o.o I found my calling.
Enrique Gutierrez
In my head: F(x) = perfect bowling throw In reality: F(x1,x2,x3,y1,y2,y3,z1,z2,z3,w1,w2,w3,...) = perfect bowling throw
John McLelland
Columbia “yellow dot”…..my first finger tip drilled ball.
John McLelland
Dry lanes……..shoot me now!
Preston Vaughn
That skull was Fred… he took long coffee breaks
Michael Natrin
Fantastic video.
Lawrence Osborne Jr
There is king pin, ten pin, and duck pin
f- puppet
f- puppet 日 前
1:28 Ummm... were you ever a teenager on a first date???
Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor 日 前
Watching those Pro-Bowlers "Trash Talk" is pretty funny. Something about the Sport of Al Bundy I just can't take them seriously.
Drew Grows
Drew Grows 日 前
I figured that they stopped making bowling balls 50yrs ago. Don't those thinks last forever. Probably passed on generation to generation
Jeremy B
Jeremy B 日 前
11 more times in a row*
Крсте Шефтеровски
You should invite Mark Rober with his magic bowling ball
Chella Rose
Chella Rose 2 日 前
Budding bowler here! Been competing in leagues for two years. Just got hired as a coach for the Varsity team in my school district. I love learning about this sport. I'm going to send this to my students. Thanks!
Fred The Swede
Fred The Swede 2 日 前
Regarding physics of the human bowler: What is the purpose of sliding up to the foul line? When throwing things humans normally does not do this!
E1craZ4life 2 日 前
@Fred The Swede You may notice that bowlers make a walk up to the foul line before releasing the ball; this gives it extra speed so that the ball can travel further during the hook phase. If you did that with normal shoes, the soles would hold your feet back as the ball's momentum pulled you forward.
Fred The Swede
Fred The Swede 2 日 前
@E1craZ4life why would you fall? I can throw heavy objects and make the final release on one leg without any risk of falling over.
E1craZ4life 2 日 前
The shoes are made so that the bowlers don't fall when they release the ball.
Elios0000 2 日 前
no talk about duck pin? but then like 9 pin only played in TX Duck pin really only played in Maryland
Hello 2 日 前
Everything explained by Veritasium is turning into rocket science.
As always, your youthful enthusiasm and innocent curiosity is our gain, Derek! Thank you for nerding out in the way I love. How about sweeping in curling?
Roy 2 日 前
I've gone bowling several times a year since the 70s and honestly I thought everyone was there for the drinking and cheese-fries, same as myself. Who knew bowling alley oil was anything other than kitchen grease?
Ryan 2 日 前
Ryan Koebel
Ryan Koebel 2 日 前
I actually bowl (for roughly 23 years) and am fairly good and i watch this video and i feel like i know to much and now will suck
Backagain l
Backagain l 3 日 前
who knew you need a degree in mechanical engineering to play bowling properly
Fungi Factory
Fungi Factory 3 日 前
Last time I went bowling, the one and only strike I threw hit and then bounced out of the gutter at the end of the lane and managed to knock over all 10 pins. No idea how that even happens, but other than that i think I actually hit the pins maybe two other times. I really suck at bowling
E1craZ4life 2 日 前
The frame that surrounds the pins protrudes into the gutter slightly; if the ball hits the gutter at the right angle at the right point, it can hit the frame and get deflected back out. Of course, that would probably be counted as a foul in a league game.
snaplash 3 日 前
I always felt I had made a good shot when the ball didn't hit my leg during the swing.
Jackson Gillette
didn't even mention brooklyns. Otherwise this was a fantastic video.
Tucker Lynch
Tucker Lynch 3 日 前
Veritasium, could you make a similar video like this about yo-yoing?
raymond castro
raymond castro 3 日 前
Fascinating, I never knew all this tidbits. You had me when you said that bowling is the number one "popular participating sport". Wow!
Kyden 4 日 前
What did I just watch? And why did it keep my full attention for the entirety of the video?
James Daugherty
James Daugherty 4 日 前
Mr. Weber is not wrong about having luck at some point for a 300. Back when I used to bowl league I'd have nights where I'd put every ball in the pocket and end up with a nice series, or have 12-13 in a row between games, but I never managed to get a perfect game.
Pikeandslippers 4 日 前
I love this video.
J S 4 日 前
9 pin bowling promotes gambling. Ten pin bowling promotes obesity
45 fottuto stronzo
The ancient Hawaiians had a sport similar to bowling that was played during the makahiki tournament. Makahiki was basically the Olympics but between the ancient Hawaiian islands; they warred among communities/islands but always had peace for the Makahiki. They slide a wooden club at a bunch of pins. I think you can play it if you visit Polynesian cultural center on Oahu.
JackF 4 日 前
25:53 social media addict on left
Dustin Rudzinski
For those shots that have the scrolling horizontal bands in them from the LED lights... set your shutter speed to 1/40 (If shooting at 24p). They will vanish.
Ununderstanding Science
The fact people don’t know how bowling works is crazy to me...
Iced Gaze
Iced Gaze 4 日 前
Well you know your a good channel when you can make people watch a 30 minutes video about a sport they don’t even like 😏
Frank & Laurie Kranitsky
Salesforce and bowling? At least with bowling you accomplish something! I did salesforce for a couple of years and it was a very expensive waste of time with little or no return on your investment.
Peyton Lucy
Peyton Lucy 5 日 前
Absolutely fantastic piece, and I am not a bowler.
crimper s
crimper s 5 日 前
Lol that lathe operator had his safety glasses on top of his head 🤦
Mile High Slacker
I roll a straight ball, I think it means I could beat Weber on a dry lane...
Gary Neace
Gary Neace 5 日 前
Dwayne Pabillar
Dwayne Pabillar 5 日 前
Great infos! 👌👌👌👌
aleph_null 5 日 前
nobody: me as a korean: wait a second, we had a bowling ball factory?
Dylan Martin
Dylan Martin 5 日 前
Rob 5 日 前
Wow did not realise there could be so many variables. Just assumed the balls were solid and no idea that the oil on wood affected the travel if the ball. Thanks great video.
Briansgate 6 日 前
3:51 do NOT let OSHA see you do that.
Lauren 6 日 前
David Dragonhammer
I don't play like most here, I been playing the way I do, drives so many crazy,the way I play is my thumb,index finger and figer next to it,it is the most craziest way possible and has worked for me for over 40 years,and I strike more than most out there.
Big Cazza
Big Cazza 6 日 前
its like cheating at a burnout and using the dirt on the edge of the road to get good wheelspeed before you munt the tires on tarmac
nsxdarin 6 日 前
how old is bowling? ancient hieroglyphics were discovered that translated to "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I AM!"
bladozer 6 日 前
A lot of people do need balls indeed.
Bradley Stuart
Bradley Stuart 6 日 前
Rolled my 300. Got out.
trashedlife1 7 日 前
Make a video on motorcycle pleeaaaaseeee 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
Ultralagger R.E.V
I just realized the bowling ball hitting the oiled line hard and at high speed causes the ball to produce sparks!
river side juggler
I worked at a bowling alley as a C mechanic, not to bad finding out stuff
Benjamin Campbell
I lived in Brigham City for a couple years and it was the most miserable place. Wish I would have known I could have been working in a bowling ball factory.
Arthur Jones
Arthur Jones 7 日 前
Great video! I don't bowl....now I'll bowl less knowing the alleys balls are so crappy!!!
Mr. Gamma
Mr. Gamma 7 日 前
What the 300 graph does not show when reactive was introduced, is the skill of the bowler decreased to shoot 300. Making it easier. Those same bowlers averaged 180 in the 80s now average 210.
mrjeb 3 日 前
This isnt told explicitly, but should be obvious implicitly, and not just for resin but for the other jumps caused by new technology like urethane. Why mention reactive resin specifically?
Chris Young
Chris Young 7 日 前
9 pin bowling in UK is called Skittles. The pins are wooden, shorter and battered to hell and the balls are metal shot around the size of a baseball. Lanes are wooden un oiled and hay bales are usually rails and back stop.
Thor-x86 7 日 前
Wonder why Americans are desperate of oil, even for playing game they need oil
Tom Y
Tom Y 7 日 前
way to excited about the feel of the block...kind of creepy.
Ryan Wayne
Ryan Wayne 7 日 前
I now have all the information I need to plan a bowling ball heist
torine G.
torine G. 7 日 前
That is very cool. Same with a golf ball with the rubber ball of bands inside. Impressive how it's made.
Christophe 7 日 前
if you have a large home then you can have a bowling alley built in a noise-reduction room
Cazell Mitchell
Cazell Mitchell 7 日 前
bruh said he never felt anything that soft
Raymond Krawiec
Raymond Krawiec 7 日 前
Bowling , Ahhhh the Sport of Polish Kings .
James Wylde
James Wylde 7 日 前
Too much mid roll ad spam
Elena Caplan
Elena Caplan 8 日 前
Super insightful video! I honestly wouldn’t have ever guessed bowling had such a science. When you did mention golf, I wouldn’t mind seeing a video about the science of that and how the angle of clubs change direction of the ball. I personally used to play golf and I have to admit, I’m really curious just how deep the science goes
Vodkacannon 8 日 前
Player leg and arm length matter too. This affects how the ball bounces. Nice video.
Nick Lush
Nick Lush 8 日 前
they got balls
Mikkel Sode
Mikkel Sode 8 日 前
Trashtalking in bowling feels really wack
Mike Gianetti
Mike Gianetti 8 日 前
WOW .... had to stop before half way through. I get that this is an explanation to noobs, but really this is bad. I started bowling about 1975 ish, and continued through the next 20+ years. Rubber, plastic, urethane and resin balls. I was a season away from a PBA card until I popped the tendon in my ring finger. I was a cranker, ala PDW, Amletto, Mark Roth, and after my injury was still at 18-20 mph and 25+ revs. I knew friction coefficients of every one of the 20+balls I used, their drilling patterns and the effect of each one. I wont name brands, but I still have Storm equipment. What the advanced bowler can do vs the once in a while bowler is night and day. I get ragged on that I still have my own equipment and refuse to use house shoes and balls. Yeah my span and pitch angles have changed, but this video is equating success to equipment, just like Ebonite did with their first resin balls. This game is as complex as any other, try reading an oil pattern, then choosing the right balls, lines, break points, and the carry down through the game. Yes by creating an angle you increase the the amount of contact are, but it is your release, alignment and understanding of your game that will help you. No I did not get my card, my injury (at age 24) has never healed and I can not lift the way I want to. Oh yeah there is this thing called lift, that is where you use your fingers to create both forward and angular rotation on the ball. YOU DONT FREAKING SPIN THE BALL!!!!! YOU LIFT THROUGH THE BALL TO CREATE ROTATIONAL FORCES AND USE THE WEIGHT BLOCK, COVER STOCK AND SPEED TO CHANGE DIRECTION / ANGLE! PDW and Chris Barns and on a different level than 99% of us. I Idolized PDW and spent years practicing and learning the game and still can not come close. This video is over simped. It is not just the ball, but the driller, the coach, the player and the skills of that player to read lanes and adjust their equipment and body. Hell I watched PDW win a tourney with a Bobcat drilled 3/4 finger (hook 3, length 5, weight block: 3 piece) to blow out a player with a 10+ hook ball, Rhino black (dull urethane, hook potential of 6-7,if I recall correctly, 3 piece weight block drilled3/4-1/2.) What does that tell you? IT IS ABOUT THE PERSON AND NOT THE GEAR.
Anders Ekman
Anders Ekman 6 日 前
First of all, read between the lines.. Second, this video is not made for bowlers.
P GR 8 日 前
Seems brutal but watching the video all the way through makes me feel so many humans waste enormous portions of their short lives on something entirely pointless, irrelevant and meaningless. Perhaps all our leaves are meaningless, but there must be various depths...
Dale Wiederholt
Dale Wiederholt 8 日 前
Technology has ruined bowling.
Anders Ekman
Anders Ekman 6 日 前
ok boomer
seq165432 8 日 前
You remind me of Jimmy Kimmel - (But REALLY SMART!)
Andrew Nadon
Andrew Nadon 8 日 前
6:17 "Who do you think you are? I am!" What does that even mean? 🤣
Budget Coin Hunter
Now, don't come away from this video thinking that ball technology is the be-all and end-all of improvement. The bowler themselves is also an integral part. I bowled seriously when I was young in the late 80s and early 90s, and I remember having to use just my plastic spare ball for a game *in tournament* after a dispute about rules regarding the use of a ball polishing machine between matches. I still came out of that game with the win and went on to come in 2nd in a field of mostly high-school keglers, back when I was just 10. Now, in fairness, it did help that it was handicap with a rather high scratch cutoff, but still...
Marcus Alberg
Marcus Alberg 8 日 前
They have some serious balls
Miles Easton
Miles Easton 9 日 前
I wanna see the science behind frisbee golf discs
Bish Bash Bosh
Bish Bash Bosh 9 日 前
UK doesn't have many quality lanes like this
Abhinav Chandraker
Now I have respect gor bowlers...
Jaspreet Singh Suman
1:28 that's what he said
KM DR 9 日 前
Learn more on here than in school.
Posting Mexico
Posting Mexico 9 日 前
super interesting
The Interwebz
The Interwebz 9 日 前
It amazes me that there are businesses like this because lets be honest, how many bowling balls does the world actually need vs ball life?
nom3n nescio
nom3n nescio 9 日 前
Lol all my comments about left dude gets deleted! Homofobia is so real.
John Giang
John Giang 9 日 前
12:04 who does this guy think he is, I am!
Keith Simpson
Keith Simpson 9 日 前
The best games come from the fun of discovering a meta. Oil allowing cool shots in Bowling, combos arising from a bug in fighting games, changes in baseball scoring over it's l ifetime, the forward pass in football, etc. Didn't realize the oil change would be like tire changes in cars ove ra race. I'm surprised more retired baseball pitchers don't go pro bowler, very similar mechanics in some ways.
E1craZ4life 7 日 前
They'd be able to brag about throwing strikes no matter what game they play.
Miffy Wong
Miffy Wong 9 日 前
so this factory makes 3000 balls a day, assuming all 11 factories make 3000 balls a day, there will be 33000 bowling balls being produced every single day. where do all these bowling balls go? Amateurs, pros, bowling alley places aint gonna order new balls this soon right?
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