Choosing the best bowling shoes can mean the difference between bowling that “strike” or “spare”, or bowling a “gutter ball”, it is very important that you get it right. Bowling shoes are as important as the ball you bowl with. These shoes are designed to allow you to approach and release the ball smoothly. Renting a pair of bowling shoes at an alley is mandatory, but if you play more than five times a year, then having your own bowling shoes will not only save you money in rental fees but also improve your game.
Table of Contents
- View the Best Bowling Shoes on the Market, Below.
- What are Bowling Shoes?
- How Should Bowling Shoes Fit?
- Where do you buy Bowling Shoes From?
- Are Bowling Shoes Required?
- Which Shoes are Best for Women?
- Who Makes the Top Bowling Shoes?
We have a look at some of the best ever bowl shoes on the market. We consider their style, comfort levels, the slide they offer in the approach and their suitability for both left and right-handed players. We look at the kind of traction they offer you for breaking as well as how durable they are. In our buyer’s guide and reviews, we will cover all the pertinent aspects you need to consider before purchasing yourself a pair of bowling shoes for your night out with friends, league or even tournament play.
|Dexter Men’s SST 8||Leather||Performance||Men's|
|Brunswick Men’s Flyer||Synthetic||Athletic||Men's|
|BSI Women’s #651||Leather||Performance||Women's|
|Dexter Men’s Ricky III||Manmade||Athletic||Men's|
|Dexter Turbo II Wide Width||Synthetic||Athletic||Unisex|
|Dexter Vicky For women||Synthetic||Athletic||Women's|
|Dexter Women’s Ana||Synthetic||Athletic||Women's|
|Brunswick TPU X LE||Leather||Performance||Unisex|
View the Best Bowling Shoes on the Market, Below.
Buyers Guide Questions
Regular bowlers understand the importance of having their own pair of bowling shoes that provide them with the right amount of comfort and support to be able to improve their game. Just as in any other sport, having the right equipment is vital to being able to perform, and although many people neglect the bowling shoe it is an integral part of bowling and you need to get the best pair you can to lift your game to the next level.
If you are a regular bowler, you will also know that renting those awful shoes from the alley is not only not conducive to improving your game but can prove very expensive over time. So when you decide it is time to get your own bowling shoes, you will need to make a wise choice to ensure that the shoe you get will aid you in your quest for the best score you can get. Choosing the right pair is not as difficult as it may appear.
We take a look at the different styles on the market and give you an idea of what to expect when you start your search for the best pair. Basically there are three different types of bowling shoes. The rental bowling shoes, the athletic style bowling shoes, which are the most common on the market for your novice to intermediate player and then the performance bowling shoes which are for those players that play in multiple leagues and tournaments.
Rental Bowling Shoes
These are the bowling shoes that are typically found in every bowling alley. They are best for those bowlers who only bowl once or twice a year on the odd occasion out with friends. They are not meant for the serious or league bowler to use. Apart from the cost of renting your bowling shoes if you are bowling more than five or six times a year, these shoes offer you little to no support and often are stretched and damaged due to the number of people that use them.
Once you have decided you are going to take up bowling as a regular activity and are going to join a league, or even bowl once or twice a month, you are going to need to buy yourself a pair of bowling shoes. There are a lot of bowling shoes on the market that will cost you a lot less than renting every time you bowl and will keep your feet supported and comfortable during your game.
Athletic Bowling Shoes
So now you have decided that renting bowling shoes is not for you so you need to decide what shoe will best suit your needs. The athletic style bowling shoe is one of the best choices for beginners as well as intermediate bowlers to use. They look best in the style of a sneaker, they feel the best, giving you the support you need as well as comfort and they will give you an advantage over those still using rental shoes. The slide on these types of bowling shoes are usually universal.
This simply means that the slides are found on both soles making them best for both left and right-handed players. These bowling shoes offer you the ability to make your approach, slide and release smoothly, which in turn allows you to control the roll of your ball better. They offer comfort and usually have padded tongues and collars, fabric inner sole lining and non-marking rubber outsoles. All of this adds to your comfort levels keeping your feet cool and dry and supported throughout your game.
The best thing about the athletic style bowling shoe is the price. These are usually reasonably priced to moderately expensive depending on the type you chose. If you are bowling regularly they will pay for themselves within a few bowling sessions as renting a shoe every time adds up to a lot of money. Not only that, they help you to improve your bowling game giving you a lot more control over the release of your ball and helping you to remain steady and sure-footed at all times.
Performance Bowling Shoes
These are the bowling shoes for those who participate in a league, or multiple leagues and like to take part in tournaments. They are designed to cope with different bowling surfaces. These shoes are typically designed only for left or right-handed players and do not have universal slide soles. The performance bowling shoes are adaptable. They can be customized to your particular needs accommodating your style of approach, slide, and release.
The reason these types of bowling shoes do not have universal slides is so that the braking shoe, or the dominant foot, have traction soles to assist with braking and the slide shoe, or the less dominant foot, has the slide. So for a right-handed player, the right sole will sport the traction and the left the slide. This is important when bowling aggressively in a tournament to enable you to keep your feet and be able to stop your slide easily before you cross the “foul” line.
The adaptability of these types of bowling shoes are displayed with the interchangeable soles. This allows you to adjust your slide plate to accommodate your needs, it is also best to be able to adjust your bowling shoe to allow for the different surfaces in different alleys, which is important when playing league or tournaments. It also means that you can replace the slide or traction soles without having to buy a new pair of bowling shoes.
Those are the three most common bowling shoes on the market. If you are only going to bowl once or twice a year, the rented option is best, however, if you are going to be bowling more than that, then the athletic or performance bowling shoes are the styles you need to look at purchasing. Buying your own bowling shoes under these circumstances will not only save you money in the long run, it will also ensure you are able to lift your game to the next level.
What are Bowling Shoes?
Bowling shoes are shoes that are specifically designed to be used in alleys when playing ten pin bowling. They have a slide on the soles of the shoes to allow you to slide into your release, it is very important to be able to approach, slide and release in one smooth motion to have optimal control over where your ball ends up. It is not clear when bowling shoes were invented, however, documents show that the first leather bowling shoes with a slide were introduced to the US in about 1888.
A question that often pops up, especially when they have to rent a pair of bowling shoes at the alley, is why you have to wear bowling shoes when bowling. Many people resent the fact that they have to spend extra money on renting bowling shoes and feel that they can play just as well in their regular shoes. This is simply not true. To be able to bowl properly you need to be able to slide into your release, and regular shoes will not allow you to do this. Regular sneakers have traction on their soles that are specifically designed to prevent you from sliding.
If you try to slide in them you could end up falling and injuring yourself in the process. Another very important reason why bowling alleys will not allow you to wear your regular shoes when playing a game of ten-pin bowling is that they need to protect their approach area. The approach area is the highly polished wood floor just before the start of the lanes. Keeping this area clean and free of scuff marks and other debris is vital for alley owners.
If they allowed you to play in your regular shoes, you will be likely to carry dirt onto the approach and could scuff up or damage the wooden floor. This will ruin it for the more serious bowlers who need to be able to have a good approach, slide, and release. There are some bowling shoes such as the athletic style bowling shoes that have universal slides.
This means that there is a slide sole on both shoes. The professional or performance bowling shoes, however are designed specifically for either left or right handed players, they have a slide sole on the dominant foot, and a traction sole on the non-dominant foot. The outsoles of these bowling shoes are there to protect the soles and midsoles and are made from non-marking rubber.
This is important so that they offer you the support you need to be able to keep your feet at push-off and when braking. They also will not mark up the approach area. Being able to break is vital as if you cross the “foul” or “release” line, you will have your ball disqualified. You need to be able to stop your slide or glide before then and keep your feet even if you are bowling very aggressively and this is where the traction and rubber outsole of bowling shoes come into play.
Lastly, although just as importantly, you need to have comfortable bowling shoes. Bowling shoes that are too large or too small will not help you to slide or glide well before delivering your ball. Bowling games can also take quite a while depending on how many bowlers there are in a team, so standing for long periods can prove to be very painful if you do not have a comfortably fitting bowling shoe.
Padding is important and that is why padded collars and tongues along with padded fabric inner soles help to keep your feet dry, cool and comfortable through the tournament or league game. It is good to note that women’s and men’s bowling shoes, although not so different in many ways, are different in sizing and styling.
How Should Bowling Shoes Fit?
Bowling shoes should be comfortable, soft and flexible in order for you to get the best out of them. In fact, next to the slide, comfort is one of the most important aspects of your bowling shoe. When bowling in a league or tournaments you will be standing for long periods of time, a game can last up to three hours depending on the number of people in a team, and a tournament lasts full days. You need to ensure that your feet do not become sore or tired as this will detract from your ability to bowl at your best.
Aside from support for your heels and feet, you bowling shoes should be flexible and durable. Allowing your foot to breathe and flex as you play. Bowling shoes are often made from leather, suede or synthetic materials that are designed to offer the support and flexibility you need when bowling. Contrary to popular belief, it is not all about the wrist action when bowling, the most important part is the approach, slide, and release, if these are not the best you will find yourself bowling “gutter balls” on a regular basis.
The bowling shoe is the thing that will determine if you are going to up the level of your game or not. Having a bowling shoe that can cope with the pressure on your toes from sliding and braking is paramount. The fit of the bowling shoes should be the best or you will find your foot sliding forward or backward and this can unbalance you. If you do not have a breathable shoe you will find your feet overheating making them sweaty and sticky and this too can have an adverse effect on your bowling performance.
There is no real difference between men’s and ladies bowling shoes, except in styling and most importantly sizing. A men’s size 6 will not be the same as a ladies size 6 so ensuring you get the right bowling shoe whether male or female is important. You should also consider if your feet are a little wider than normal, there are bowling shoes that cater for wider feet and you will need that room to be comfortable on the lanes.
Where do you buy Bowling Shoes From?
Most sporting stores will sell bowling shoes, you can also get the cheaper athletic style bowling shoes from Sears, Kmart, and similar stores. However, if you are looking for a more expensive pair of bowling shoes then you can consider looking at specialized sporting stores, with the manufacturers themselves or even online at Amazon stock these more specialized shoes. Amazon offers a wide range of bowling shoes from the cheaper athletic style which is best for the novice or beginner to the intermediate player who plays on a regular basis in a league as such.
Then you get the more pricey performance bowling shoes and we have reviewed some of these shoes for you including that the Dexter SST 8 which is one of the best bowling shoes for those serious bowlers. The one downside to buying your bowling shoes online is that you cannot fit them before buying. This problem is not an issue if you know the shoe and the size that will fit you best.
However, if you don’t you can consider making your way to the nearest store and fitting a pair before purchasing on Amazon where you can often get better pricing options than in the store itself. Wherever you buy your bowling shoes, ensure that you get the right fit, the right price and the right style to suit your bowling requirements.
Are Bowling Shoes Required?
Many people get irate when they arrive at the bowling alley to find that they are required to rent a pair of bowling shoes at an extra cost to the game. However, it is important that only bowling shoes with their special soles are used when bowling to maintain the integrity of the approach area of the lanes. In order for the alley owners to protect this area, they insist you have to wear the specialized bowling shoes.
If you are going to play golf (click for the top choices), or perhaps if you play tennis, squash or soccer you will be required to wear the shoes specifically designed for those sports, the same with bowling. Owning your own pair of bowling shoes is best as it will help you to refine and get the best approach, slide, and delivery of the ball and make the difference between bowling a “gutter ball” or a “strike”. Controlling your ball is imperative if you are looking to pick up that “spare” and having the right bowling shoes enables you to do exactly that.
There are a number of reasons for the importance of wearing specialized bowling shoes when bowling and we go through some of them to give you a better understanding of the reasons, and to help you understand why an alley owner will not allow you to bowl unless you have your won specialized bowling shoes or hire a pair before playing.
Slide and Traction
This is the most important aspect of any bowling shoe you will purchase and is the difference between your regular sneaker and a quality bowling shoe. Your sneaker or any other normal shoe have traction on the bottom side of each sole, they are designed with the intention of stopping you from slipping or sliding. The bowling shoe has the opposite objective. They have special slide plates that are designed to ensure that you are able to slide along before delivering your ball down the lanes. The better the slide, the smoother the delivery.
The athletic style bowling shoes may look like your regular sneaker until you turn them over an look at the soles. Most of these types of bowling shoes have a universal slide. This means that both soles will feature a slide plate to enable them to accommodate left handed and right handed players. Most of your rental bowling shoes will also have the universal sole, as it is just not possible to keep enough specifically designed left or right-handed shoes to cater for the number of people who rent them.
Performance bowling shoes, on the other hand, are specific to either left or right-handed players. This means that the slide sole will be on your non-dominant foot, left if you are right-handed, and a traction sole on the dominant foot, right if you are right-handed. Most of these shoes also allow you to adjust them to best cater for the conditions in which you are bowling. If you are bowling in a league or in tournaments and play at different alleys regularly, then these bowling shoes make it easy for you to adjust to the type of approach you play on.
They are a little pricier than your athletic style shoe and are meant for the more serious bowler to use. The traction sole is just as important as the slide sole on your bowling shoes. You need to be able to stop your slide before you cross the “foul” line or you may find your “strike” disallowed and ruin your chances of bowling that best score of 300, which all bowlers aim for. When you stop you slide you also need to remain stable on your feet as you do not want to be sliding along behind your ball after your release.
This is where the non-marking rubber outsoles of your bowling shoe come into play. They offer the support you need to keep you upright and to help with push-off, the non-marking rubber will also not mark up the approach area. Some of the performance bowling shoes have removable traction soles. This may seem insignificant but can save you money in the long run. When the traction wears out on the shoe you can replace it without having to buy a new pair of bowling shoes.
This is another important part of having to wear specialized bowling shoes when hitting the lanes, and one of the reasons that an alley owner will not allow you to play in your regular shoes. If you are not wearing bowling shoes with a specialized sole, you could end up falling flat on your face when trying to slide into your release. The safety of other bowlers also come into play if you are allowed to play in your normal shoes. This is because you can compromise the integrity of the approach.
The approach is the area of the bowling alley that you use to deliver your ball down the lanes. It is a smooth, well-polished area that must be kept clean and free of debris to ensure the safety of all bowlers. Bowling alley owners will tell you that the most difficult part of running an alley is maintaining the approach. Insisting on your wearing proper bowling shoes is one way that they do this, another is to prevent any person from eating or drinking on the approach section.
If they allowed you to use your own shoes the chances are you will track in dirt and debris from outside, this can cause you to trip or fall when trying to deliver your ball, it can also put the next bowler in jeopardy or falling and could damage other people bowling shoes destroying the slide.
Most regular bowlers will also know that you should never leave the approach area without removing your bowling shoes or at least covering them with a protective cover to prevent damage to the slide and to prevent carrying debris back on the soles of your bowling shoes from wherever you have been.
So scuffed and damaged approach areas or ones with a lot of debris or gunk such as chewing gum and the like, can be very dangerous to all bowlers and cause serious injury in falls. You should always ensure you are wearing proper bowling shoes when ten pin bowling.
The outsole of a bowling shoe is usually made from non-marking rubber. This is to help you to brake properly as well as to keep your balance when stopping your slide or pushing-off. It also ensures you do not damage or mark up the approach area.
The second most important aspect of your shoe apart from the soles of your bowling shoes. Bowling sessions can last for many hours, depending on a number of players, if you are playing league or a tournament. Standing for that amount of time can cause you to get sore and tired feet. As footwork are a major part of being able to deliver you ball successfully down the lane, it is imperative that you keep your feet supported, comfortable, cool and dry.
Bowling shoes are designed to do just that will padded collars and tongues, toe protectors, and non-marking rubber soles to protect your sole and midsole. The inner lining is also vital and at best, provide comfortable fabric lining with some padding for ultimate comfort. Some even offer removable inner soles so that you can insert your own orthopedic soles if necessary.
There are some accessories you should consider acquiring when you decide to buy your own bowling shoes. These include shoe covers. Shoe covers will ensure that the soles of your shoes are protected should you need to leave the bowling areas during a session, even if it is just to go to the toilet. Not only that, it will prevent you from transferring any debris you might pick up along the way.
Many bowling shoes will come with shoe covers that you can use to store your shoes in when not in use. These will keep your bowling shoes cool and dry and preserve the slide and traction soles. It may be an extra expense, but it will add to the longevity of your bowling shoes and save you money in the long run. So as you can see there are a number of valid reasons why wearing bowling shoes when hitting the lanes is imperative.
No matter if you are an occasional bowler who will rent a pair when bowling or a serious bowler who buys their own bowling shoes, wearing these specialized bowling shoes are important for your safety as well as other bowlers. Keeping the approach clean and clear of debris is the bowling alley owner’s main objective when insisting on these types of shoes being worn when playing.
Which Shoes are Best for Women?
Whether you are buying women’s or men’s bowling shoes you need to consider a few things. Comfort, slide, and traction for braking. These are universal needs on bowling shoes. However, then you can consider style as well. Women’s feet are different to men’s in that they are usually a little smaller and narrower so buying a bowling shoe that is specifically designed for women is the only way to ensure you get the support and comfort you need.
Women’s bowling shoes often have a slight heel and have a more stylish look to them than men’s, and although these do not really have an influence on the game, like the slide, traction, and braking, they do have an effect on how you feel, if you feel good, you will play better. Dexter and other brands make shoes that are specifically designed to cater for woman’s needs when looking to buy the best pair of bowling shoes.
Who Makes the Top Bowling Shoes?
This is a highly debatable question and in the end, it will come down to personal preference as to which shoe manufacturer you rate the highest. There are a number of manufacturers out there, but when you are looking for a pair of shoes you will most often come across the names, Brunswick and Dexter. Many of the shoes we have reviewed are Dexter brand shoes. Dexter has been making bowling shoes for a long time and has the lion’s share of the market along with Brunswick.
Both of these manufacturers provide athletic style shoes as well as the more pricey performance style shoes, they provide for men, women and children shoes and are considered the two best brands on the market when it comes to bowling shoes. Apart from these two brands, there are a number of other bowling shoes that are specifically designed for the part-time bowler, the ones that do not want to rent shoes but also do not want to spend too much money investing in shoes they will only use five or so times a year.
Then, of course, you get the custom-made shoes for the professional players designed by various shoe manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas.If you are considering moving from the basic athletic style shoes to the more high-performance shoes then you will probably look to purchasing a Brunswick or a Dexter. They are both stylish and designed for comfort at it’s best, flexibility, and adaptability to accommodate all your bowling needs.
Interchangeable soles, one of the best slides, secure traction and excellent support are just some of the qualities you can expect from shoes from these manufacturers. Performance style shoes are designed specifically for left or right-handed players and offer total control and the best slides and stopping ability on the market and are designed for both men and women.
Some of them do however offer the option of being used by both lefties and right-handed players such as the Dexter SST 8 which offer interchangeable soles, however, the majority will not. Performance shoes will also offer you the ability to adjust your slide and traction soles to accommodate any surface you may find yourself playing on.
They can also adjust to ensure your style of slide and approach is accommodated, the Brunswick TPU X LE is one of the best shoes. It does not matter what brand of shoes you chose to purchase. You will always get a better fit, more comfort, one of the best slides and more control than you would ever get from any rental shoes you may use at the bowling alley.
Owning your own bowling shoes will help you take your game to the next level. Renting shoes becomes very expensive, especially if you are going to be playing regularly. Whether you are just a social player, a once a week league player or somebody who likes to play in multiple leagues and tournaments, having your own shoes will make all the difference to your game.
Dexter Jack is a men’s bowling shoes that offer you style, comfort, and performance. Dexter is a well-known brand in bowling shoes and it should come as no surprise that a Dexter shoe is our best choice for bowling shoes in 2018. Universal slide soles with extra-long slides ensure both the left and right-handed player gets the best out of their approach, slide, and release from beginners to the intermediate levels.
They are an athletic style shoes that are extremely comfortable with a lace-to-shoe pattern to give you the best fit and offer support. A fully lined fabric inner with a padded tongue and collar will ensure that your feet are protected and kept cool and dry throughout the game. Rubber non-marking outsoles help you with your push-off and to keep your balance when braking.
The traction offered allows you to stop your slide even when playing aggressively. Style meets comfort in one of Dexters’ Best, the Dexter Jack shoes and they are reasonably priced so if you are a regular bowler you cannot afford not to consider getting a pair of these great bowling shoes.
When you have taken your participation in bowling to an all new level of participating in tournaments and playing in various different alleys regularly, you need a pair of shoes that will help you perform at your best, one that is adjustable to suit your style of approach and playing conditions. The Dexter Man’s SST 8 are just such shoes and our premium choice for bowling shoes in 2018. Performance bowling shoes from Dexter that offer you the best features from the leather uppers to the traction and slide soles.
They have interchangeable sole construction, so unlike many other performance shoes, they can accommodate both left and right-handed players. The specialized traction sole enables you to brake efficiently and you will be sure that you never ruin your best score with a “foul” ball. The traction plates are also removable and replaceable so you can replace them when they wear down without having to replace the the shoes completely.
The sidewall of the SST 8 is non-marking rubber sole to allow you to balance yourself nicely and to push-off properly when making your approach. It also offers a drag protector which will stop your slide sole from peeling back even when you are playing aggressively. Styling is another aspect where the SST 8 shines. The soft leather upper is not only one of the best looking it offers excellent support for your feet and heels and is ultra-durable.
These are some of the most well priced athletic style bowling shoes from Brunswick that offer you comfort, style and a host of features that will help you take your game to the next level. The Men’s Flyer from Brunswick are some of the best shoes and our best value bowling shoe for 2018. Styled in all black, they are best for the bowler who is bowling in a league or just likes bowling regularly with their friends socially.
Their price range makes them the best for the bowler who does not want to spend a lot of money on shoes but does not want to have to rent those ugly, uncomfortable rental shoes every time they hit the lanes. FlexiSlide Technology allows you to improve your game. It helps you get your best approach and slide, two of the most important lead up to the release of your ball down the lanes.
The Komfot-Fit construction of the shoes, durable material uppers and textile inner lining, padded tongue and collar and rubber non-marking outsoles, all combine to ensure you get the most out of your bowling shoes, from comfort to style. These shoes offer a roomy fit so it will accommodate people with slightly wider than average feet. The amount of grip the shoes will allow is important, too – see why in this study.