The major difference between men’s and women’s bowling shoes is size and styling. Size is important as you need to ensure that you get the best most comfortable fit in order to ensure that you get the best out of your game. Male and female sizes are different, so make sure you get the right one when buying your pair.

What is Different About Bowling Shoes?

What is Different about Bowling ShoesThe main difference in bowling shoes compared to normal shoes or sneakers is the fact that they have a smooth surface and a sliding sole. Another difference is that bowling shoes have no heels. There is a difference between the left and right sole of a bowling shoe, depending if you are left or right handed.  You need to have a sliding sole on your left foot if you are right-handed and a rubber or traction sole on your left.

The reason for this is that when you make your approach to releasing your bowling ball, you need to be able to glide or slide into it and then be able to stop yourself before you cross the line.  If you do not have the slide action, you will not release the ball smoothly and quickly enough to get the perfect roll, and you will never achieve that perfect “strike”.

Just as important as the slide is the braking. If you cross over the release line, you will have your ball disallowed and it could cost you the game. The fit and comfort of your shoe is imperative if you are going to be looking for that perfect score on the lanes.

Choosing the right size shoe is one of the most important factors. If your shoe does not fit properly you will not be able to get either the perfect glide nor be able to stop yourself before overstepping the foul line. Men’s and women’s sizes are different, so if you are a man, make sure you get a men’s size 7 and not a ladies size 7 if you want the perfect fit.

How do you make Bowling Shoes Slide?

First and foremost to ensure you get the best slide from your bowling shoes, you need to maintain them properly. In order to get that slide and maintain it takes a little work. You will need to brush out your sole regularly with a wire brush. You do this gently on your sliding foot to revitalize the leather sole and bring back the fluffiness. The fluffier the leather the smoother the slide.

However, if you find that your shoes are not sliding as they should, or you are using rented shoes and find that they are not sliding the way you want them too there is a simple way to get that slide back. Sliding powder is usually available at all bowling alley shops. You will take a small amount of this powder and apply it to both the heel and sole of the shoe you slide with. That would be the left shoe for a right-handed person and right for a left-handed person.

Ensure that the powder is evenly spread over the sole of the slide shoe. Again you will only use a minute amount of this powder. Once you have applied to powder, take a few test slides and then do one full slide towards the release or foul line to test your slide. If you find that you are still not sliding properly put a little more powder on until you get the perfect slide for the perfect release.

Do you have to wear Bowling Shoes?

Yes, wearing bowling shoes is vital not only for your game but also for the lanes themselves. When bowling alleys make you wear those awful rented shoes, be sure they are not just trying to get some extra money out of you, and although it will improve your game, the real reason is that they do not want you to damage their approaches.

One of the most difficult tasks faced by bowling alley owners it to maintain the approach. What is the approach you ask? Well, it is the section of the lane that you walk on just prior to releasing your ball down towards the pins. The area just before the release, or foul line on the lanes. This is the area that is vital to keep not only debris free but also smooth and flat.

Having debris on the approach could lead to not only you not being able to release your ball smoothly, but is a safety issue as well. If you are approaching and your glide foot gets stuck on something, like chewing gum, you could end up heading face first down the lane instead of your ball. This could lead to serious injury. Ensuring that you are not wearing any shoes that may have debris on their bottoms is one way to make sure you don’t transfer it to the floor of the approach.

Another reason for insisting that you wear their bowling shoes when bowling is that outside environmental factions can play a part. If it is raining or snowing outside, and you come in with wet shoes, you can imagine the damage to their smoothly polished approach should you walk on it with your wet, dirty shoes, and destroy the surface.


The bowling shoe could be the most underrated piece of equipment in the bowling world. Having one the glides perfectly and has the right amount of traction for breaking and pushing off is vital to achieving your goal of bowling the perfect 300 score and making that all-important “spare”.

About the Author

Hey, I'm Lilly Harvey. If there's two things I'm passionate about in life, it's shoes and writing!

Combining both my passions with my Fashion Design degree, I've helped create Shoe Adviser to help readers choose the best shoes for them, enjoy!

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