The Best Bowling Shoes for Beginners, Sliding, Toe Draggers, & Wide Feet

It’s the first frame of your first game.

You are setting yourself up into your stance.

You’re keeping your eye on the pins as you mentally aim where your ball should go.

Finally, you begin your throw.

The execution feels good as you begin to let go of your ball and….you slip and fall right over the foul line.

You are thankfully unhurt but you can’t help but wonder, “What happened?!”

Then looking down you see them, your outdoor tennis shoes.

In your excitement to begin bowling, you had forgotten to put your bowling shoes on!

Many sports require special types of shoes to help give them an edge in their field. Track and Field, Soccer, American Football, and even Cross Country to name a few.

Bowling is no different from any of these sports!

In order to perform well, you need the right equipment and that includes bowling shoes.

In this article, we will be answering some common questions about bowling shoes as well as offering our suggestions for brands of shoes, should you be looking to invest in a pair.

If you want to skip right to my top picks, which include the best bowling shoes for beginners, sliding, toe draggers, and wide feet, I recommend the following shoes:

Why Does Bowling Require Special Shoes?

Best Bowling Shoes for SlidingThere is one main, important reason that bowling requires specialized shoes in order to play the sport and that is safety.

When you are bowling, the posture and way you throw the ball can put a lot of strain on your arms, hips or back if there is no give in your stance.

You are essentially taking a solid weight and throwing it with your whole body and while this can strain muscles and joints it can also throw off your center of balance as well.

This is where bowling shoes come in.

With their special design, the bowling shoes work to allow your body to glide forward as you throw your ball, helping prevent injury as well as keeping your balance centered.

The special sole in the bowling shoe also helps by allowing some give in your approach in order to let you glide forward as you move, maintaining balance and lessening the risk for injury on the throw.

What Is Different About Bowling Shoes from Regular Shoes?

Best Bowling Shoes for Toe DraggersThe main difference between bowling and regular shoes is the sole of the shoe.

On bowling shoes, a special type of material sits on both soles of the shoes and there is no heel. This allows friction to form between the shoe and the alley lane to prevent slippage while bowling.

Regular shoes do not have this protective sole and their raised heels only add to how easily they can slip and slide on a well-polished alley.

Bowling shoes also have the ability to change the sliding pad of each sole, allowing the bowler to adjust the level of friction needed for different lanes.

Can I Wear My Regular Shoes for Bowling?

The short answer to this question is; no, no you cannot. The reason behind this is that regular shoes cannot gain the same level of traction and friction on slippery lanes that bowling shoes can, resulting in dangerous slips and spills.

This can result in injury to both you and anyone else in the proximity should you lose control of your ball in the middle of a throw.

Many bowling alleys do not even allow patrons on the bowling floor unless they have the proper footwear because of these safety concerns and we can’t say we blame them!

You wouldn’t play American Football without the proper safety equipment, bowling is no different! Make sure you wear the correct shoes to keep you and other bowlers safe.

Can I Wear My Own Bowling Shoes for Bowling?

Of course, you can! In fact, we encourage it!

By owning a pair of bowling shoes your body becomes accustomed to that specific pair, making it easy to balance and adjust yourself as you bowl.

It’s just like riding a bike, your body remembers the muscle movements and trains itself to use the shoes efficiently as you bowl.

This helps you adjust and use your stance and form to increase your skill level as well as protect your body from strain and injury.

Also, if you are a bowler looking to take your game to the next level your own shoes becomes a necessity versus a luxury.

With modern shoes that have interchangeable soles and are specifically tailored to either left and right-handed bowlers, having your own pair of shoes is an important step to giving you that professional edge!

Are Bowling Shoes Slippery?

Yes…and no. A bowling shoe is generally constructed out of rubber and leather.

The soles, as stated before, are made out of a special material that allows a slide while bowling to prevent injury.

However, there is also a rubber edge on the sole of the foot that bowlers can use as a type of braking system, allowing them to stop the glide and preventing them from slipping over the foul line during their approach.

Bowling shoes are also specifically designed for slippery alley lanes, so while your foot may slip here and there from time to time, the shoe’s design allows you to catch your balance and prevent any fall that might have occurred with regular shoes.

What Is the Material on the Bottom of Bowling Shoes?

A lot of bowling shoe brands use leather or a synthetic form of leather for their bowling shoe soles.

This type of material is great for allowing well-controlled slides and glides while bowling, with the rubber brake scouting the edge of the sole.

Some brands of shoes will also use a special type of microfiber for their soles, allowing for different traction and braking abilities for different levels of bowling.

Why Do Some Bowlers Use a Shoe Slide Cover?

A shoe slide cover is a sock-like device that goes over the toes of your bowling shoes to help prevent you from ‘sticking’ during your bowling approach.

As mentioned earlier a gentle slide is expected of a good bowling form and many bowlers spend years perfecting the art of their graceful glide.

However, varying factors such as unpolished alley lanes, worn shoes or unmaintained grounds can cause problems that result in the bowler ‘sticking’.

This is where the glide is stopped abruptly, causing the bowler to either lose balance or have his/her form and posture thrown off.

This can be very annoying for bowlers of all levels and many professionals take to wearing slide covers as a way to combat the stick from these different challenges.

Can You Wear Bowling Shoes Outside?

NO! We simply cannot stress how important it is to NOT wear your bowling shoes outside.

Bowling shoes are designed to keep your body and those around you safe by allowing a gliding motion to occur so you can maintain your posture and balance.

In order to do this, the soles of the bowling shoes must be clean and well maintained.

If you were to wear your bowling shoes outside dirt, grass, gum, garbage or any other debris found in walkways can become trapped in your shoes, tarnishing them and preventing them from doing their job correctly.

In fact, many bowling alleys require all outdoor shoes to be removed before bowlers can enter the floor and change into their bowling shoes.

This prevents sand, gravel and anything else tracked in from outside from getting on the shoes and damaging the lanes as well as the bowling shoes of other bowlers.

While having a good pair of bowling shoes is very important for all bowlers, proper shoes are especially important for senior bowlers or individuals that are prone to fall and injure themselves.

Can Bowling Shoes Be Used for Everyday Wear?

They technically can, they are a functioning shoe after all. However once worn outside or anywhere else than at the bowling alley the shoes become a hazard to both you, other bowlers, and the bowling alley itself.

As stated above, wearing bowling shoes anywhere else but the bowling alley can cause loose dirt and gravel to become trapped in the shoe.

This can lead to a loss in traction with your slide approach as well as scratch up the lane and damage other bowler’s throws as well.

Would It Be Better to Buy My Own Bowling Shoes?

While rental shoes are a great option to have for people who don’t bowl as often as those who participate in a league or bowl professionally if you find yourself bowling often you might want to look into buying your own pair of bowling shoes.

Since it costs money to rent shoes, many bowlers find it is easier and cheaper to buy a pair of shoes that will quickly pay for themselves instead of renting a pair over and over again.

There are many options of shoes to choose from to fit all types of needs and budgets, allowing bowlers the opportunity to find what they are looking for with relative ease.

Make sure you do your research beforehand though to find the best type of shoe for you since bowling shoes tend to last a long time and you want a shoe that is both efficient and comfortable.

What Are the Best Type of Bowling Shoes?

When it comes to narrowing down the best type of bowling shoes it can be a little difficult.

There are many different factors involved in bowling that affect what type of shoe is best for you. There are shoes for right-handed bowlers and shoes that are specifically tailored to left-handed bowlers.

The best shoe for you can be based off of which foot you slide on and which one you use to brake as well as how often and how hard you bowl.

If we have to choose a specific brand to recommend though, we would go with a Dexter. Known for its durability, flexibility and comfort, this brand of bowling shoes has put out consistently high-quality shoes year after year.

Bowlers of all levels can find what they are looking for in the wide range of shoes available to them through the Dexter brand as well as try out different shoes for different needs.

The only drawback is that these shoes can be a little on the pricey side, but in this case, you definitely get a good quality shoe for what you pay for.

Our runner-up brand would be a BSI shoe. While this type of shoe falls a little under the Dexter brand in quality it is still a powerful presence in the bowling shoe world.

BSI also boasts a wide variety of selection to help every bowler find what they are looking for.

If you are looking for a good quality shoe that is not so hard on the wallet we would recommend a Brunswick shoe. While not as high quality as a Dexter or BSI, the Brunswick still provides comfort and durability.

Are There Women and Men’s Bowling Shoes?

Yes, like all types of shoes, bowling shoes come in both women and men’s sizes.

But like regular shoes the size that best fits you can vary by brand. Make sure you do your research and if you can try on the different types of shoes to find the best fit.

Can I Order Bowling Shoes Online?

Yes, you can! Many sites and online shopping venues offer a variety of choices, sizes, and brands of bowling shoes. You can also order different parts and accessories like interchangeable heels and slip shoe covers.

If you choose to go this route though make sure you do your research. A lot of online platforms have varying prices for the same brand of shoes, different promotions or different shipping rates.

Make sure you do your research and read customer reviews if they are available. Through these reviews, you will gain fresh insight and tips from people who have already ordered a product you are interested in and figured out the hiccups in sizes and brands.

So when it comes down to bowling shoes the basic fact is that they are a valuable and necessary part of the sport. They help keep your body from injuring itself, protect other bowlers from accidents and help maintain the bowling lanes in order to make sure everyone is having fun bowling.

While the types, sizes, and brands of shoes can vary, by taking your time and doing your research you can be well on your way to finding the shoe that is the perfect fit for your needs and style of bowling.

So the next time you are at a bowling alley and you’re getting ready to throw that first ball, make sure you’ve taken the time to put your bowling shoes on.

You and everyone around you deserve to have a fun, competitive game without the risk of anyone getting hurt because taking away that risk definitely helps you bowl a whole lot better!

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