The quick and short answer to why you need to wear bowling shoes when bowling is that:
- This is required by the bowling alleys to protect the bowling lanes against wear and tear, and debris destroying the surface of the lanes.
- Bowling shoes will improve your game versus wearing regular shoes – and actually, there’s a very specific reason for this.
Table of Contents
- What is so unique about bowling shoes?
- Bowling shoes consist of different kinds of shoes and soles
- Are you a SLIDER or a PLANTER?
- What are bowling shoes’ outer soles made from, and should they slide on the floor?
- Can you wear flip-flops to bowling?
- Can I use running shoes for bowling?
- Can I convert my regular shoes into bowling shoes?
Like all sports, bowling comes with its own set of gear, and equipment, that helps players perform at their best. In order to start your steps towards the lane and release the bowling ball properly, make those tricky shots, and knock down those 10 pins, you need a good pair of bowling shoes.
- How can wearing bowling shoes actually help improve your game?
- What is so unique about bowling shoes?
It’s practically impossible to get those strikes without a pair of bowling shoes. You can bowl in your regular shoes. But it probably won’t be a very good experience because regular shoes will stick too much to the lane. Also, most bowling alleys have rules for the footwear that you can wear. You need to buy your own bowling shoes or rent some from the bowling alley. The bowling area and lanes need to be 100% smooth and shiny for the bowlers to use their footwork optimally on the polished wood.
What is so unique about bowling shoes?
Beside that most of the rental bowling shoes are quite ugly (read why most bowling shoes are ugly here) or funny looking, there’s a good reason you need bowling shoes is that bowling shoes have unique soles that don’t stick too much to the lane and are not too slippery. Of course, you don’t step on the bowling lane per se. The bowling lane itself is very slippery because of the special oil on the lane’s surface – and you will also be stepping on or over the Foul Line, which will get you 0 points no matter how many pins you knock down.
However, your playing area or preparation area for the shot is made from polished wood that is completely smooth. You should be able to slide just a bit and then stop on that slide step before you release the bowling ball – and don’t slip.
Or do you have to slide??
That depends on what type of bowler you are.
More on this after the answer about what bowling shoe soles are made of.
The bowling shoes have special soles made from rubber, microfiber, felt or leather – and also “sawtooth” which is mix of two types – (on the forefoot and the heel) that can make you slide very smoothly on the lane, and still keep you from slipping and falling. But they can also have soles that make you completely stop – then you are a “planter”.
Some specific custom soles are interchangeable and are used with bowling shoes, where you can change the soles as you prefer. This way you can get the same slide or stop that you are looking for.
Bowling shoes consist of different kinds of shoes and soles
The soles can also have multiple areas and each has a unique ability.
You will have a sliding shoe and a traction shoe. Or sliding and traction soles to be more precise.
For your “sliding shoe”, you will choose from a “long slide” to a “short slide”. Which of course is more break or average break.
For your “traction shoe”, you will choose from slick to tacky. Or in other words, less traction vs most traction.
You will be able to mix and match the forefoot sole and the heel sole.
Check this website for slide and traction guides: https://www.dexterbowling.com/soles-heels.aspx
Are you a SLIDER or a PLANTER?
Some bowlers don’t slide when they release the bowling ball, and some slide when they release the ball.
When choosing the soles for your bowling shoes, you should pick them based on which type of bowler you are.
Which one are you? Check out this video about sliders and planters.
Nowadays, good bowling shoes come equipped with interchangeable soles, allowing bowlers to customize the amount of grip they need depending on their preference or skill level. Some even offer accessorized soles like ridges and textures, which help provide even more traction than traditional smooth-bottom designs.
This feature has become increasingly popular among experienced bowlers who want maximum control over their movements in order to execute precise shots that require precision and accuracy.
What are bowling shoes’ outer soles made from, and should they slide on the floor?
As mentioned, the outer sole of bowling shoes is typically made from rubber, leather, felt or microfiber.
Rubber and leather offer excellent durability and grip on a variety of surfaces, whereas microfiber and felt provide better sliding.
The design of most modern bowling shoes includes both slick soles (for sliding) and traction soles (for gripping).
Slick soles usually feature thin grooves or ridges that allow for smoother sliding across the lane’s surface.
Conversely, traction soles are designed to provide maximum grip in order to keep your feet firmly planted during the delivery of the bowling ball. They are typically made from heavy-duty rubber, featuring grooves designed to offer extra grip during the twisting motion required by bowlers on their approach to delivering the ball down the lane.
When selecting a pair of bowling shoes, it is important to consider your skill level and what type of floor you will be using them on.
For beginner bowlers who may not have mastered their technique yet, it is recommended to opt for shoes with a more aggressive traction sole so that they can focus on their form before attempting slides.
For more experienced players, it is suggested they choose a shoe with a combination of slick and traction soles in order to gain greater control over their delivery movements while still achieving enough slide when needed.
Can you wear flip-flops to bowling?
It may seem tempting to just throw on a pair of flip-flops and hit the lanes, but this is not recommended. This is because bowling alleys require special shoes so that athletes can carry out their activity with more control and less risk of injury. Flat-soled shoes like flip-flops can easily slip while walking or running, which increases the chances of falling.
Additionally, flip-flops do not provide enough support for your feet during the physical motion involved in bowling. They don’t offer enough protection from muscle strains or joint irritation from extending your leg when playing.
Bowling shoes are specially designed to offer extra support for your feet and ankles, with thicker padding at the heel and ball of the foot than flip-flops, regular sneakers or any other kind of shoes.
So the easy conclusion would be that wearing flip-flops while bowling is not recommended due to their lack of support and grip on slick surfaces.
Can I use running shoes for bowling?
The short answer is no. Again, bowling requires special shoes to help bowlers slide correctly and to protect the lanes from damage.
With street shoes, even if you manage to control your movement, you won’t get the full range of motion required for good shots due to a lack of grip and stability from the maybe worn-out soles.
And still, bowling alleys require specific footwear in order to protect them from wear and tear caused by regular street shoes’ patterned soles that could damage their wooden floors over time.
Can I convert my regular shoes into bowling shoes?
Actually, yes! You can absolutely convert your regular shoes into bowling shoes.
If you want to convert your shoes into bowling shoes, you should go and read the article about converting regular shoes into bowling shoes.