Choosing the best bowling shoes does not have to be hard. The best tips for picking out the best bowling shoes are to first know what shoe type you are looking for and then to decide what features you want with your shoes.
Bowling shoes are an essential part of going bowling. They are the highlight of the approach to the lane. If the shoes do not work, the game does not work. Choosing a good pair of shoes is key to a good match.
Bowling shoes are a part of the bowling arsenal that is often underappreciated but very important. Without a proper pair, an individual’s technique could get messed up, or worse, they could get injured. With this in mind, where does one start when trying to purchase bowling shoes? What sort of things should you look for, and how can you find the shoes that are the right fit for you?
To get the right pair, there are a few things to consider. Consider the type of bowling shoes you’re looking for and the shoe features that will enhance your game. Universal shoes are suitable for casual bowlers. Serious bowlers might need “competitive” or “performance” bowling shoes.
Regardless of the type of shoe, it should have the following features:
There are a few factors that go into the perfect bowling shoe. Simply choosing the correct shoe size won’t do the trick. Read on to learn more about how to get the right pair for your game.
Popular Bowling Shoes
Like all shoes, there are many different types of bowling shoes. When choosing a pair, it is helpful to look at the list of essential features and shoe types and then determine what kind of shoe is wanted.
Performance Bowling Shoes
Performance bowling shoes are designed for specific bowlers. They can be customized and fit to meet exact needs. They also tend to cost more than other types of bowling shoes.
- SST 8 a bowling shoe with revolutionary technology
- Unique total interchangeable sole construction
- Soft, full-grain leather upper
Dexter Bowling Men’s SST 8
The Dexter Bowling Men’s SST 8 is a top-ranked performance bowling shoe. The Soles are interchangeable so that both right and left-handed bowlers can use the shoe. It is very durable and has excellent ventilation.
- Leather upper
- Toe drag protector
- EVA midsole
- It takes time to break-in
- Soft, durable man-made upper
- Blucher upper pattern for adjustable fit
- Fully fabric-lined with padded tongue and collar
Dexter Pro Am II
The Dexter Pro Am II bowling shoe is designed for right-handed bowlers. It has a raised heel, which helps with the slide. The shoe also has a padded upper and is very comfortable to wear.
- Fits to size
- Great slide options
- Additional sole
Athletic Bowling Shoes
Athletic bowling shoes are made for right and left-handed bowlers. They look and fit better than a rental bowling shoe. They also are affordable.
- Engineered mesh upper with universal soles
- Lighter and more breathable
- Comfort-fit construction
KR Strikeforce Men’s Flyer
The KR Strikeforce Men’s Flyer is an athletic style bowling shoe. It has a universal sole, which works for both right and left-handed bowlers. It is known for its fantastic support and comfort. The shoe also has flexible technology, which allows for great sliding while bowling.
- Youth and adult sizes
- It may not last long
- Sport leather uppers
- Padded tongue and collar
- Stitched and glued slide sole
BSI Women’s Classic
The BSI Women’s Classic is a very stylish bowling shoe with a feminine touch. It has a universal slide that allows for right and left-handed bowlers to use the shoe. It is very comfortable to wear and can be broken in the first use.
- Leather upper
- Run large
- Lightweight outsole
- These shoes along with most others all should be ordered a half size larger than typical shoe size
Dexter Bowling Men’s Ricky IV
The Dexter Bowling Men’s Ricky IV bowling shoe is a popular shoe because it looks like a street shoe. It contains a universal sole. It is good for bowlers with medium to low sliding styles. The shoe is well padded and extremely comfortable.
- Runs small
- Comfort and performance
- Durability and style
- The #1 bowling shoe in the world
Dexter Turbo II Wide Athletic
The Dexter Turbo II Wide bowling shoe is built for wider feet. It has universal slides. It also has a raised rubber heel, which can be helpful when sliding, especially if you are not tall. This is the perfect shoe for a beginner and intermediate bowler.
- Fits wider feet
- Stylish look
- Runs a half size small
- Raised heal
Benefits of a Good Bowling Shoe
A good bowling shoe not only benefits the user but the facility as well.
- Better gliding abilities: a proper glide and slide are necessary for accurate throw and more power. If the shoe is sticking, then the bowler has less control
- Floor protection: helps the floors stay clean, nice, and maintained.
- Highly customizable: A good bowling shoe can be made for the specific bowler who can greatly improve their performance
(source: The Shoe Guide)
What Kind of Shoes do You Have to Choose From?
Before going to purchase a bowling shoe, ask yourself the following:
- “What is my budget for this shoe?”
- “How often do I bowl?” and
- “Do I bowl competitively or for fun?”
The answers to these questions will help determine the type of bowling shoe you need to find.
Rental Bowling Shoes
If you only bowl once or twice in the year, getting bowling shoes may not be a worthy investment for you. Because you can usually rent shoes at the bowling alley when you get there, you may forfeit the purchase and choose to rent shoes instead.
There are bowling shoes available for as little as $19 to $50 US Dollars, but if they are only used once or twice, they will still be pricier, most often, then the rental at the bowling alley. But at least if you choose to purchase your own, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the maintenance, and you won’t be sharing shoes.
Universal Bowling Shoes
If you are a bit more frequent but you only bowl for fun, then getting some universal bowling shoes may be the right fit for you. Universal shoes are suitable for a bowler regardless of their dominant hand. They have sliding soles and a little traction in the heels to allow for technique, and they are more affordable than pro shoes.
Professional Bowling Shoes
On the other hand, if you are a frequent bowler or you bowl competitively, it is a good idea to get a shoe customized to your preferences, a “competitive” bowling shoe. If you are right-handed, go for a right-handed bowling shoe and vice versa. This is the most expensive option.
In performance shoes, the sole will have features that will allow the bowler to slide easily. Other shoe soles will have higher friction material that will allow for more traction, i.e., a sliding foot and a braking foot, respectively.
For someone who is right-handed, the right foot will be your braking foot (the foot that stops you from sliding around), and the left shoe will be for sliding. You would slide with one-foot dominating to pitch the bowling ball and brake with the other foot.
To get the right fit on this pair of shoes, you may want to get your foot measured to get a more tailored fit since this is a more expensive pair of shoes.
Bowling Shoe Type Comparison
Bowling shoes can be put into three categories: rental, athletic, and performance. Every bowler fits into a category. For bowling once a year, one does not need to buy expensive bowling shoes. You can use the rentals at the bowling alley. If you bowl often, then it would be cost-effective to buy a pair.
Rental Bowling Shoes
These shoes are for the occasional bowler. Someone who goes a few times a year. These shoes are factory-made, and all the shoes look and act the same.
- Sometimes come free when paying for a lane
- Cost $4/5
- One time use
- Not always a perfect fit
- Not always clean
These shoes are made for beginner and intermediate bowlers. Someone who goes bowling often and at the same bowling alley. They look and fit like athletic shoes.
- Fits like a sneaker
- Has a sliding sole
- Range of prices
- Sliding soles are on both feet
- Soles cannot be replaced
These shoes are for the experienced bowler. One who bowls regularly and uses a variety of bowling alleys. These shoes are designed for the bowler’s style and can be customized. Each shoe will have different soles depending on if the user is right-handed or left-handed.
Performance shoes can have fixed soles, which are made specifically for the right or left-handed bowlers. Or they can have replaceable soles where the slide and the traction soles can be switched out depending on how little or much slip and brakes you want, and they can be replaced when worn out.
- Can be customized
- Soles can be replaced
- More expensive
Bowling Shoe Features
Bowling shoes come with many different features. When choosing a good pair, it is vital to look at the features and determine which ones are most important.
A right shoe should last for a while. Good bowling shoes can be expensive, and that is usually because of durability. If the shoe has leather, it is going to be more durable than the show with synthetic leather or plastic.
Weight of Shoe
The weight of the shoe is essential. Heavy shoes are more durable, but the weight can cause the user to be more tired after playing. A Lighter shoe may not last as long, but it will be more comfortable on the body.
An excellent inner collar is essential to avoid rubbing on the front of the foot. It also needs to wick away moisture
All bowling shoes need to slide. If the bowler wants a little slide, then look for a flat bottom. If the bowler wants more of a slide, then look for a raised heel. An experienced bowler will want to control the slide and should look for a shoe with interchangeable soles and heels.
To be effective, a bowling shoe needs to fit well. Laces are essential in helping the shoe fit well. There are several different types of laces.
- Lace- any laces can be used, the most common
- Strap- more comfortable to get on/off, still secure, no as standard, Velcro
- Slip-on- no breaking laces or Velcro straps, essential to have a good fit
- Boa- similar to ski boots (the thin wire that is tightened by turning a knob)
What are You Looking for in Bowling Shoes?
Besides the features that are part of the type of bowling shoe, you should also look for these other things:
Features that enhance your bowling shoes’ comfort or wearability may seem like a given but should be looked for specifically, primarily because these shoes are meant more for their functionality and less for their style.
An inner collar is usually one of the most comfort-focused aspects of the bowling shoe. The inner collar is excellent for avoiding rubbing the shoe’s outside material against your skin and causing abrasions to occur on your foot. Because of this, look for an inner collar of comfortable and thick material that is still breathable.
The interchangeable sole and heel pads serve the primary purpose of helping the bowler adjust their slide and traction to best suit their needs. Being able to customize this is also a comfort feature as it allows the bowler to practice their techniques comfortably without incurring severe injury caused by wearing the wrong shoes.
This next piece is crucial because it is easy for the feet to get sweaty and uncomfortable inside the shoes after playing for a longer period. This adversely affects your health since it could lead to fungal or bacterial foot problems, and it adversely affects your game.
The level of ventilation will be dependent on the material that the bowling shoe is composed of. It could be a durable material and still be lightweight and aerodynamic enough to wear to bowl for several hours.
The best material to look for when seeking adequate ventilation is leather. Leather is a breathable material that absorbs humidity. It can even absorb more serious moisture if the leather is of good quality.
In addition to considering the material used in making the shoe, look for shoes built with air holes or some kind of provision for ventilation along the sides right by the sole. Also, look for flexible fabric that bends and allows your feet to move freely.
A Snubbed Toe
“A snubbed toe” is a term that refers to the extra padding that is put on the toe of a bowling shoe, either showing on the outside or implemented into the inside of the shoe. This may not be a design that is in-style today, but it is a functional must for anyone who wants to have a good game with less hassle.
The snubbed toe makes it possible for a person to slide a bit on the toe of their bowling shoe without injuring their toes. Since sliding is familiar to bowling, this is important. It is a feature that allows for effective movement and is a good complement for different bowling techniques.
It also provides a preliminary guard for your toes if your foot accidentally hits something, or you have an accident with a bowling ball.
Other Things to Note When Picking Bowling Shoes
- If you bowl daily, get more than one pair of shoes, so you switch up shoes between each day. This will also ensure that the shoes do not wear out too rapidly.
- Store your shoes in a cool, dry place.
- Wipe off your shoes after each use because the oil used in some bowling alley lane maintenance can deteriorate at the shoes’ soles.
Tips for picking out the best bowling shoes are to first know what shoe type you are looking for and then to decide what features you want on your shoe. With the large variety of bowling shoes, it is easier to find a shoe that meets all the wants on a shoe list.
You can buy your own or rent a pair. Either way, start by figuring the budget you are working with, whether you want shoes more customized to you, the frequency with which you will use the shoe, etc.
After you have decided on those specifications, make sure that the shoe has features that will cater to your needs. A snubbed toe on the shoe or interchangeable soles and heels are both essential features that can make your shoes fit better and feel better. Make sure you have the right size shoe and a comfortable fit.
If you choose the rental option, don’t hesitate to take them back until you get the right fit. This is also true for shoes that you purchase. You can’t bowl if you’re not comfy in your shoes, so make sure they feel great.
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