What to Look for Before You Buy Bowling Shoes

Learn the difference between bowling shoes and other footwear

If you've never dared to buy a pair of bowling shoes, you might not know where to begin. After all, outside of bowling alleys, sightings of bowling shoes are rare. But if you want to bowl more often or improve your game, you should consider buying a pair. With the tips that follow, determine if it's time for you to buy bowling shoes and the details you should know before your purchase.

Whether to Rent or Buy 

If you're only an occasional bowler or just bowl for fun, rented bowling shoes may be all you need.

Rented bowling shoes usually have a universal sole that is suited to beginning bowlers or bowlers who do not bowl frequently. If you are interested in improving your game or bowl regularly, you may find that rented bowling shoes are too slick or provide more traction than you want. A pair of your own bowling shoes might be more appropriate in this case.

Bowling Shoe Choices: Performance or Athletic

An athletic style bowling shoe has the look and feel of a standard gym shoe but is custom made for the sport of bowling. Athletic style bowling shoes typically have a sliding sole on both shoes, which is good for beginning bowlers or people who bowl once a week or less. On the other hand, a performance bowling shoe is just what the name implies - a bowling shoe made for bowling which, by design, is meant to help achieve a better bowling performance.

How Performance Bowling Shoes Differ from Others

Each performance bowling shoe serves a different purpose.

One bowling shoe is for sliding, and the other is for braking. It's because of this, that bowling shoes are designed specifically for right-handed or left-handed bowlers. The shoe for sliding is the one opposite of the hand with which you bowl. For example, a right-handed bowler will have the left shoe as the sliding shoe.

    The Soles 

    In performance or competitive bowling shoes, the sliding shoe features a sole that will allow the bowler easily slide during their delivery. The braking bowling shoe has a sole that provides traction and is usually made of a higher friction material, such as rubber. If you are, or plan to be, a competitive bowler, you will probably want to consider a shoe with interchangeable sole pads, so that your slide can match your style and the surface on which you bowl.

    The Right Fit for Your Bowling Shoes

    Bowling shoes come in a variety of widths. While it's probably obvious that you don't want too tight of a fit, it's also important to avoid a bowling shoe that is too loose. Bowling shoes that do not fit snugly can throw off your balance, and can have an negative effect on your game. Measure your feet, or have them professionally measured, even if you already know your size - feet can change over time. 

    Other Qualities to Consider 

    Bowling shoes with padded linings and collars and cushioned insoles will provide extra comfort. They can also provide extra support and stability by minimizing the movement of your foot within the shoe. This added stability can improve balance and thereby improve your performance.

    For maximum comfort and coolness, you will also want to look for bowling shoes that have breathable uppers.