Nobody really knows when the bowling shoe was invented but in around 1888 it is believed that the first leather bowling shoe was brought to the US. Having the ability to slide effortlessly before releasing your ball is achieved by using these leather, slide shoes designed specifically for the lanes.

What makes it a Bowling Shoe?

So what makes a bowling shoe a blowing shoe (click here to read the review)? They often look like sneakers and many would wonder why they cannot use their sneakers when hitting the lanes. Well just as a tennis player would not use slippers to play in, a bowler cannot use sneakers to bowl. A bowling shoe is designed with a sliding plate on the sole.  This is essential to the bowler being able to deliver a smooth rolling ball down the lane to achieve a strike.

You approach in bowling is vital, and being able to glide smoothly up to the line and then stop yourself before crossing it is one of the most important aspects of your game. The reason the bowling shoe is compulsory to wear when braving the lanes is not only for your comfort and ability to play the game properly. It is for safety reasons, not only yours but also the lanes themselves.

Why are Bowling Shoes so Slippery?

The one stand out aspect of all great bowling shoes is that they are super slippery. The reason for this is two-fold.

First, it is to enable you to release the bowling ball smoothly down the lane toward the pins in order to achieve the perfect strike. For you to be able to do this, you need to glide up to the release line so that your release is not only smooth but fluid and very fast giving the ball the momentum it needs to knock down those pins. The heels of these shoes are made from rubber so that you can stop your glide once the ball is released. You have to do this otherwise you could go over the release line and have your “strike” disallowed.

Second, it is to protect the super smooth, polished surface of the approach and the lanes themselves. The traction that is found on other shoes will damage this perfectly smooth surface and make it impossible to have that smooth release you are looking for.
Often the non-sliding foot of the custom-made shoes do not have the slide sole and are made of a smooth rubber to enable you to get a great grip as you approach your glide.

Why do Bowling Shoes differ Right from Left in Colors?

There are many theories as to why the left and right shoes of a pair of bowling shoes differ in color. Some of these are that the color of the rental shoes denotes the sizes of the shoe, one color for the woman’s size and one for the men’s, hence the different colors. The main reason for this, however, is that the shoes come in left and right handed styles.

This is important as the one side will have the sliding sole and the other the traction needed for braking. The two different colors indicate the different types of soles on each shoe. A right-handed player will have the sliding sole on the left foot and traction on the right foot, and vice versa for a right-handed player.

How do you clean the bottom of Bowling Shoes?

Taking care of your expensive, specially designed bowling shoes is vital if you are going to bowl that perfect 300 score. Bowling shoes, like any of your other shoes, are subject to wear and tear. However, bowling shoes do tend to take a bit more of a beating, especially due to their design of the glide plate, or sliding sole, on the one shoe. This sole gets flattened after a lot of sliding and the friction will increase, impairing your game, or worse, causing you to stick on your approach and end up face first in the lanes.

Cleaning and caring for your shoes is vitally important. There is a simple and easy way to ensure that your glide foot glides and that your traction foot has the ability to stop that glide at the right time to avoid disqualification of a ball. The best way to accomplish the cleaning and care of your shoe is to use a wire brush. You will take the brush and gently, and we cannot overemphasize the word gently, scape the sole of your shoe.

When you do this you will take away the friction of the shoe and make the leather fluffy again, the fluffier the easier it will glide on the approach.Bowling shoes are expensive and it is important that you care for them properly so that they will last you a long time. Caring for your shoes is simple and easy just follows these tips and you are sure to get a lot of use out of yours.

Firstly, always keep your shoes in a protective bag. This is important as you do not want your shoe to lose their shape. Always unlace them before removing them. Disinfecting your shoes with a spray after using them is vital to avoid any nasty foot infections.Never wear your shoes outside of the lanes.  Walking on other surfaces could damage your shoe and stop them from being able to perform properly.

There are protective shoe covers that you can get to put over your shoes when you need to leave the playing area. Always use a good quality wire brush or a bristle brush to clean your shoes with and do not let your shoes get wet. If they do, you will have to dry them out and then use the brush to get the fluffiness back on the sole of the shoe in order to ensure the glide.


Bowling shoes are expensive and caring for your shoes is a vital aspect of having a great pair of shoes that will allow you to get the perfect slide when approaching your release and enabling you to achieve the ultimate 300 score you are striving for.

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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