Why Are Bowling Lanes Slippery? (3 Facts You Need to Know)

Bowling is a sport that many people enjoy, but why are bowling lanes slippery? What causes the frictionless surface on these lanes? 

You might have noticed that your shoes will often slide around on the floor as you walk from lane to lane. 

In this article, we will investigate why bowling lanes are so slippery and discuss why they were designed this way in the first place.

Why Are Bowling Lanes Slippery?

Bowling lanes are made slippery to allow for easy and smooth ball movement. The lane is covered in a mix of oil and other special liquids, which become less viscous when heated so the ball can grip them more easily upon contact.

The lane’s material also plays an important role in determining how slippery the bowling alley is – softer materials like wood typically produce shallower engraved patterns on the floor than hard surfaces like synthetic plastics do, which makes it shinier since there are fewer micro folds for dirt or other particles to get caught up in.

What Is The Reason For Slippery Bowling Lanes?

Why Are Bowling Lanes Slippery

Bowling, one of America’s favorite pastimes, is a game that has been around for centuries. While modern bowling lanes may look different than they did in ancient times (people used to bowl inside of churches), the basic principles remain the same.

There are some key components unique to modern-day bowling alleys, starting with how they are constructed.

Bowling lanes consist of three pieces:

The approach

The approach (the area where the bowler stands and releases the ball).

The gutters

The gutters (the channel on either side of the lane).

The pinsetter

The pinsetter (the machine that sets each pin). The gutters are not as wide as those seen in a billiards room (a narrow strip that runs along the edge of the floor), but they are still a crucial part of bowling.

One reason for their width is to keep the pins from flying into neighboring lanes, limiting distractions and increasing safety.

The approach is pavemented with a material called “broom finish” which consists of small beads that are rough on one side and have a smooth surface on the other side.

When the ball coasts down this, it slows down as it passes over these small beads. The smoother bottom allows it to maintain speed and continue toward its target at a consistent pace.

Interestingly enough, these gutters have been designed this way since their inception in order to reduce friction when bowlers release the ball. They are constructed out of wood, making them very smooth but also very slippery.

Also Read: How long is a bowling lane?

When an object slides along a surface it creates friction, increasing its resistance to the surface below while slowing down the travel speed of object.

This increased friction is seen when you drag your finger across a desk or table — your finger moves more slowly than if you were to simply let it slide across the surface.

Bowling alleys have been designed with this in mind, as they hope to maximize the speed of the ball while minimizing friction between the ball and the floor.

The pinsetter is also carefully designed in order to reduce friction between the pin and the wood floor. This can be seen when the pinsetter sets each pin down.

Each pin has two small, dimpled “feet” on one end which engage with grooves (like an egg crate) in the wood. This reduces contact between the pin and floor, again allowing for more bowling speed with less resistance.

Ultimately, these materials are carefully selected to create a very streamlined approach to bowling. In a sport where speed is king, it would make sense that an increased amount of friction would lead to slower ball speeds and less accurate throws.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has answered any questions about bowling lanes that you may have and has brought the sport to life in your mind. If you ever attend a competition or even just play at an alley, keep these things in mind.

Although many of the lane’s components seem like they would affect performance, remember that their primary objective is to make this game as fun as possible for everyone by keeping speeds high and distractions low.


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About me

I am Stev Rene. I am a writer, blogger, and athlete. My blog focuses on sports and fitness.
I started this blog because I felt that many people lack knowledge about sports and fitness.