Bowling is a sport that requires several specialized pieces of equipment. One of the most essential pieces of equipment are bowling shoes. These specially designed shoes help ensure that bowlers are safe and have several properties that allow bowlers to perform at the highest level possible.
What are bowling shoes used for?
Bowling shoes are important to help bowlers compete safely and effectively during competitions. In fact, the shoes are such a crucial aspect of the game that bowling alleys require bowlers to wear them at all times while competing. The soles of bowling shoes have a smooth design, so that bowlers can easily slide across the floor and obtain a smooth follow through motion. Without sleek soles, bowlers’ feet may stick to the ground during their follow through, which could result in a foot or ankle injury. On the other hand, the heels of the shoes are made of rubber, which helps bowlers stop sliding after they release the ball.
Besides benefiting bowlers, the shoes also benefit the bowling lanes. Since bowling shoes are not worn outside, they ensure that the bowling lanes are clean and free of things such as dirt, mud, salt, and other debris that could ruin the pristine lane conditions.
Things To Consider
When looking for bowling shoes, you'll want to consider the following:
- What type of bowling shoe are you looking for?
- What size shoe are you?
- How much do you want to spend on bowling shoes?
- How often do you bowl?
There are several different types of bowling shoes including athletic, performance, and rental.
Athletic bowling shoes are useful for bowlers at the beginner and intermediate skill levels. Typically, athletic shoes are best for those that bowl around once per week. In terms of appearance, these shoes are generally more stylish than performance bowling shoes and closely resemble regular athletic sneakers.
Performance bowling shoes are best for those that bowl at a high skill level, multiple times per week, and at multiple bowling alleys. These shoes are usually customizable to fit the skills and style of each bowler. In addition, depending on the handedness of the bowler, performance shoes have one sole made for sliding and one for braking.
Rental bowling shoes are best for those that only bowl a few times a year. Instead of owning their own pair, many bowlers will rent shoes from the bowling alley each time they compete. Compared to athletic and performance bowling shoes, rental shoes are generally of lower quality and are inexpensive to buy/rent.
Bowling shoes are commonly made of a few materials including leather, mesh, and rubber.
- Leather: The upper portion of bowling shoes is often made of leather. While athletic and performance bowling shoes are made of higher quality leather, rental shoes are often made of faux leather.
- Mesh: The upper portion of bowling shoes may also be made of mesh. Compared to leather, mesh shoes are generally more flexible and breathable.
- Rubber: The sole and outsole of most bowling shoes is made of rubber that provides bowlers with an appropriate amount of slide and traction.
A few of the best bowling shoe brands include Brunswick, BSI, and Dexter.
- Brunswick: Brunswick offers a wide variety of both performance and athletic bowling shoes in men’s, women's, and youth sizes. It also offers specialized soles, heels, and laces for its shoes.
- BSI: BSI is known for its line of classic and high quality bowling shoes. It offers performance, athletic, and rental shoes.
- Dexter: Often considered the best bowling shoes brand, Dexter offers a vast selection of athletic and performance shoes, soles, heels, insoles, and even shoe protectors.
When choosing bowling shoes, a few important things to consider include durability, cost, and size.
The durability of bowling shoes is very important because it determines how long the bowling shoes will last and what conditions the shoes can withstand. Generally, bowling shoes that are made of higher quality materials, such as soft leather instead of synthetic leather, and are more expensive will be more durable.
For those that only bowl a few times a year, it may be more cost effective to rent bowling shoes while for those that bowl more frequently, it is often better to invest in a pair of shoes. Renting shoes costs around $4, while buying shoes typically costs from $30 to $60, depending on the shoe brand and quality.
Every pair of bowling shoes differs in terms of sizing. Depending on the gender of the shoe model, the sizing guide may also vary. If a shoe has a unisex style, the sizing guide will typically use male sizing. To ensure a good fit, many experienced bowlers prefer customized performance bowling shoes.
What is the difference between bowling shoes and regular shoes?
One main difference between bowling shoes and regular shoes is the soles. The soles on bowling shoes are very slick, which allows bowlers to go through the motions smoothly. In addition, the rubber heels of bowling shoes prevent bowlers from continuing to slide after releasing the ball. Another difference is that bowling shoes are not worn outdoors, which helps to keep the bowling lanes clean.
Do you have to wear special shoes for bowling?
Yes, bowling alleys require competitors to wear specialized shoes to bowl. These shoes are uniquely designed to allow bowlers to perform effectively, safely, and also help keep the bowling lanes in good condition. Bowlers have the option to either rent shoes at the bowling alley or purchase their own pair.
How much do bowling shoes cost?
The typical cost to rent a pair of bowling shoes is around $4. When purchasing bowling shoes, the cost varies from around $30 to $60 depending on the quality and brand of the shoes. Bowling shoes made of materials such as synthetic leather will generally cost less than shoes made of materials such as premium quality soft leather.