How to Choose Your Bowling Shoes

How to Choose Your Bowling Shoes

When bowlers and coaches talk about the importance of having the "right equipment" more often than not the discussion is around the bowling ball.  Here we look at very important but often overlooked subject of selecting the right bowling shoe - a critical element to improving your game and your consistency.

If you are looking to purchase bowling shoes, take your time and try on a variety of styles to ensure it is the right one for you.

First and foremost, bowling shoes must be worn to protect the approaches from damage and of course to prevent injury by allowing the bowler to slide as they deliver the ball.  There are a variety of different shoes on the market ranging from your typical house shoes right through to your high performance shoes.  Like most things the price varies considerably dependent on the quality and number of features of the shoe.

The major benefit to owning your own shoes is comfort and consistency.  When purchasing your own shoes you are more likely to purchase those that best fit your foot and provide you with the most comfort and support.  Also by wearing the same shoes every time you lace up, you are going to have the same consistent slide experience each time you step up on the approach and that can only lead to improved consistency and higher scores.  Another fairly obvious advantage to having your own shoes is that as you are the only person wearing them, there is less wear and tear compared to house shoes that could be worn more than a dozen times a day.  Therefore your personal bowling shoes, if cared for properly, will last several years depending on how many games a week you bowl.



House shoes are generally made to cater for both right and left handed bowlers, meaning that the soles of both shoes are the same i.e. are leather or a similar material that permits the bowler to slide easily to finish their delivery. 

House shoes are also fitted with a rubber heel which acts like a brake to ensure that the bowler doesn’t keep sliding down the lane.

The most basic bowling shoe that is available for purchase is very similar to the standard house shoe with leather soles on both shoes.  If you are just starting out in the game or price is a primary consideration this is a good shoe to consider.

The more seasoned league and tournament bowler most often will own a high performance shoe.   The most evident difference is that only the slide foot is fitted with the leather sole, whilst the other shoe is fitted with a rubber sole and heel.  This allows the bowler to generate more power at the leverage point in the swing by providing more traction on the approach with their non-sliding foot as they push into the slide. 

At the upper end of the high performance range of shoes, other added features include the ability for the bowler to change the leather sole on their slide shoe to change the length of slide.
This is particularly important for bowlers who compete in a number of different bowling centres where approaches can be quite different.  For example, the feel and speed of a wooden versus synthetic approach can be significant and this is where the ability to change soles can come in very handy.  The bottom of the slide shoe is fitted with Velcro to allow the bowler to change both the sole and heel to assist in generating the ideal slide.

  When purchasing most high performance shoes, you will receive a variety of interchangeable soles and heels.  Each of these are given a rating scale to help the bowler choose the right combination for their game. 

Bowling shoes are no different to any other pair of shoes you purchase; they are all made differently to cater for different foot types; not just the shoe size.  Many brands make a variety of different shoes to cater for varying foot widths.  The best way to find out which shoe is best for you is to have your foot fitted properly at a shoe store to determine the exact length and width of your foot.  With this information you can research the best shoe for you. 

Most brands also make men’s, women’s and kids shoes and there are many different colors and designs to suit your personality as well as your foot! 

How to Care for Your Bowling Shoes

Like any shoe the more care you take of them, the longer they will last. 

Always remember to:

• Undo your shoe laces when you remove your shoes.

• Store your shoes in a cool dry place – not in the boot of your car.

• Disinfect the inside of your shoes after each wear – when bowling your feet can sweat!

• Place your shoes neatly into your bag, don’t just squash them in!

• NEVER wear your bowling shoes outside or to the bathroom.

• Always wear your protective shoe cover when leaving the players area.

• If your shoes get dirty, use a bristle brush to clean them.

• If your shoes get wet, dry the wet area and then use a bristle brush to reinvigorate the affected area of the shoe.