Bowling Shoes for Beginners: Choosing the Right Pair for Better Gameplay

Bowling is a fun, social, and challenging sport that will test your skills and keep you coming back for more. But, before you throw that first strike, let’s talk about something that can often be overlooked by beginners – bowling shoes. The type of shoes you wear can significantly affect your gameplay. This blog post will guide you in choosing your first pair of bowling shoes, setting you on the right path for better gameplay.

What are Bowling Shoes?

Bowling shoes have a smooth sole that allows bowlers to slide during their approach to the bowling lane. This slide is crucial for maintaining balance and achieving an effective, controlled release of the bowling ball. Bowling shoes come in a variety of styles and sizes, with options for right-handed and left-handed bowlers.

Why Do I Need to Wear Bowling Shoes?

The soles of bowling shoes are specially designed to handle the approach area’s slick surface, enabling a smoother slide into your shot. This slide prevents abrupt stops that could lead to injury and helps control the speed and direction of your throw.

Things to Consider Before Buying Bowling Shoes as a Beginner

Comfort is paramount as you’ll be on your feet a lot. Ensure the shoes fit well and don’t pinch or rub.

Sole Material – It should allow for a smooth slide but also provide enough traction to prevent slipping.

Durability – Your shoes are going to go through a lot of wear and tear, so invest in a pair that’s well-constructed and made to last.

Style – While performance is crucial, you also want shoes that you feel confident wearing.

Price – As a beginner, you might not want to spend a lot on your first pair. However, keep in mind that investing in a quality pair can save you money in the long run as they may last longer.

Tips to Buy Bowling Shoes from a Pro Player

As someone who’s spent countless hours in bowling alleys and played numerous games, I’ve picked up some valuable insights on bowling shoes

John Doe, a 5-year bowling veteran: “You should honesty spend just a little extra and get something with swappable soles. They may run you around the $150-$200 mark but they will LAST FOR YEARS.”

Jane Smith, a bowler who’s been enjoying the game for over a decade: “Another thing to consider, especially for right-handers, is to choose a bowling shoe with a sliding sole on the left shoe. This is crucial as you’ll be stepping off on your left foot for the final slide towards the foul line. Picking shoes that match your dominant hand can really help in enhancing your performance and comfort.”

Nathan Kiggs – works at a local bowling shoe shop: “In my early days, I bought the cheapest bowling shoes I could find, but within just four months, the slide sole quickly wore out. I didn’t complain because they were cheap. Then I switched to more expensive shoes with interchangeable soles and a kit, costing around $140-$150 at the time. They have been very durable, lasting me 6-7 years without any issues.”

Bowling shoes with swappable soles

Can I Wear Sneakers to Bowling?

Unfortunately, the answer is No. Here is why:

Sneakers lack the specialized sole found in bowling shoes, which is designed to offer the right amount of slide and traction for a safe and effective bowling approach. Sneakers, on the other hand, have rubber soles that can stick to the approach area and disrupt your game.

They bring in dirt and grit, potentially damaging the lanes. So, the rule of thumb is: when you’re heading to the bowling alley, leave your sneakers at home and lace up a pair of bowling shoes instead.

Can I Turn My Regular Shoes Into Bowling Shoes?

Transforming your regular shoes into bowling shoes isn’t as simple as changing the soles. Bowling shoes are specifically designed with special soles for sliding and braking. Simply sticking a flat sole onto a regular shoe won’t provide the same performance, and could potentially be unsafe as it lacks the necessary traction and control. So, it’s always best to invest in a good pair of bowling shoes for a safer and smoother bowling experience.

“I Hate Bowling Shoes, They Look Terrible.”

Bowling shoes might not have been the most fashionable footwear, often featuring unusual color combinations and designs. However, times have changed.

Today, many manufacturers offer stylish and modern bowling shoes that look very similar to regular sports shoes. You can find bowling shoes in a range of colors, designs, and styles to suit your personal taste.

How to Keep Your Bowling Shoes…Forever

Maintaining your bowling shoes can significantly prolong their lifespan, here are some tips:

  1. Clean Them Regularly – After every game, wipe down your shoes with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or oil. This helps to prevent the buildup of grime that can damage the material over time.
  2. Use Shoe Covers – When you’re not bowling, cover your shoes to protect them from dust, dirt, and spills. Shoe covers can also guard your soles against wear and tear.
  3. Store Them Properly – Always store your shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Excessive heat and moisture can warp the shoe and degrade the sole.
  4. Rotate Your Shoes – If you bowl frequently, consider owning more than one pair and rotating them. This allows each pair time to air out and recover between uses.
  5. Replace The Soles and Heels When Needed – If you’ve invested in bowling shoes with interchangeable soles and heels, take advantage of this feature. When your soles or heels start to wear down, replace them to maintain your slide and braking abilities.

Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Bowling Shoes

  1. Worn-out Soles – One of the clearest signs that your bowling shoes need replacing is when the soles start to wear out.
  2. Reduced Performance – If your game has been suffering lately and your shoes no longer provide the slide or grip they used to, it could be a sign that they’re past their prime.
  3. Discomfort or Pain – Bowling shoes should be comfortable. If you experience discomfort or pain while bowling, your shoes might be to blame.
  4. Appearance – Your shoes look worn out and beat up. Well, it might be time for a new pair.

How Long Do Bowling Shoes Typically Last?

Cheap bowling shoes used regularly might last only a few months,

High-end shoes that are well-maintained can serve you well for several years.

For someone who bowls once a week, a good quality pair of shoes could last from 5 to 10 years. Regular cleaning and proper storage of your shoes can greatly extend their lifespan.


Should I Buy My Own Bowling Shoes?

Of course! investing in your own pair of bowling shoes can be a smart move. Why?

  1. Hygiene and Comfort – Rental bowling shoes are used by hundreds of people and may not always be clean or comfortable. Having your own pair ensures you’re the only one using them, increasing comfort and reducing the risk of foot infections.
  2. Improved Performance – Bowling shoes have special soles for the right balance of slide and traction. Owning your own pair lets you get used to their feel and performance, improving your game.
  3. Cost Savings – While buying bowling shoes may seem expensive upfront, it can save money in the long run if you bowl frequently.

Where Can I Buy My Own Bowling Shoes?

You can buy your own bowling shoes from several places.

Sports equipment stores often carry a variety of bowling shoes. You can also check out specialty bowling stores or you can just go to online shopping sites, they offer a vast selection of bowling shoes in different styles, sizes, and prices. Remember, it’s important to read customer reviews and check the size chart before making a purchase online.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right bowling shoes may seem like a minor detail, but it can significantly impact your gameplay. While style and cost are important factors to consider, don’t overlook the features that directly affect your performance, like the design of the soles and the overall comfort. A good pair of bowling shoes is not just an investment in your wardrobe, but also in your game. So treat your feet to their own pair of bowling shoes – your game will thank you!



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