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What Shoes Can You Wear Bowling? Can You Wear Regular Shoes?

The best bowling shoes available for rental at the local bowling alley require you to wear socks since they're shared.

Wondering what shoes you should wear to a bowling outing? You’re right to be concerned, as things can quickly go south if you’re not wearing the right shoes.

Not only can it be uncomfortable, but it may even be dangerous. So, what shoes can you wear bowling? Can you wear your own shoes, or are rental shoes needed?

In this article, we will discuss the best shoes to wear when you go bowling. We will also provide a few tips on how to choose the perfect pair of shoes for you!

What Shoes Can You Wear Bowling?

You can’t use regular shoes for bowling under any circumstances. This is because regular shoes are not designed to slide on a bowling lane. They also don’t provide the necessary support that you need when throwing a heavy bowling ball.

So, we strongly advise that you invest in a good pair of bowling shoes.

If you bowl in regular shoes, you run the risk of:

  • Slipping and falling.
  • Damaging the bowling lane.
  • Hurting your feet or ankles.

*note: per the USBC Rule 12, “the approach must not be defaced.”

A lady that decided to rent and wear shoes at the alley instead of purchasing her own performance bowling shoes.

What’s So Special About Bowling Shoes?

If you’re like most people, you want to know why bowling shoes are required over street shoes. What’s so special about them? 

Bowling shoes have a unique sliding sole that helps you glide smoothly on the lane – this shoe is worn on the side opposite your swinging arm.

The ability to slide a bit on the bowling lane approach is crucial to the accuracy of your throw. Bowling shoes also prevent injury by providing specialized support around your ankles and heels. 

Bowling shoes’ appeal is not limited to your feet, though; they are also great at protecting the lanes from wear and tear. Their outsoles are made of a special material that won’t scuff or scratch the bowling lanes. 

Note: Bowling centers won’t allow you to play if you’re not wearing bowling shoes, so keep that in mind before you try to play in street shoes.

Cropped image of cheerful young couple holding bowling shoes and smiling because wearing street shoes or athletic shoes are prohibited.

How Can You Tell if Shoes are Bowling Shoes?

Traditional bowling shoes usually have a very distinct look; they are often brightly colored and have a low profile. They also come in pairs that don’t look the same, and that’s done on purpose.

The color difference tells bowlers and bowling shoe attendants which shoe the sliding sole is on.

When looking at bowling shoes, you’ll also notice that they have a unique shape. This is because they are designed to fit snugly around your foot and ankle, providing support in all the right places. 

Can You Bowl Barefoot?

You may have seen people bowl barefoot before, but that’s extremely risky. You need shoes to protect your feet from the heavy ball in the event that you drop it.

In addition, bowling shoes help you to slide just enough to get a good shot. Without shoes, you would be stuck in one spot and unable to move your feet without falling. Lastly, bowling without bowling shoes just isn’t good bowling etiquette.

Two young ladies giving back their rented bowling shoes because they opted not out of buying bowling shoes.

Renting Bowling Alley Shoes

If you don’t want to buy your own bowling shoes, you can always rent them from the bowling alley. This is a great option if you only go bowling occasionally. Most bowling alleys will have a wide range of sizes for bowlers to choose from, so most people can find a good-fitting pair. 

When renting shoes, try them on before you start bowling. This way, you can ensure they’re comfortable and fit properly. Shoes that are too large, small, wide, or narrow can negatively affect your gameplay. 

If you have your own bowling shoes, you can bring them with you to the alley. Just slip them on before you go onto the lanes.

How Do I Choose the Right Bowling Shoes?

If you’re not into renting shoes at the bowling alley, then you’ll need to purchase your own pair. When choosing shoes, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind:

  • Consider your personal style and preferences. For example, if you prefer a more traditional look, choose a pair of leather bowling shoes – those are classic. However, if you’re looking for something a little more modern, opt for a pair of synthetic ones (mesh or canvas, for example).
  • Think about the type of support you need. If you have flat feet, go for a pair of bowling shoes with arch support. You will be wearing them for a few hours at a time, so comfort is paramount. 
  • Consider the width of the shoe. If you have wide feet, ensure the shoe is wide enough to accommodate your foot without pain.  
  • Go for a reputable brand. For most regular shoes, the brand is a non-factor. But when it comes to bowling shoes, it’s best to go with a brand that specializes in making them. You want a pair of shoes that will last you for years and won’t fall apart after just a few uses.

Pro-tip for online shoe shoppers: Most bowling shoes run a little bit larger than regular shoes, so be sure to check the size chart before making a purchase. This way, you can guarantee a great fit. 

Time with friends at a bowling alley with five different bowling balls and amf bowling shoes

Where to Buy Bowling Shoes

If you’ve decided that you want to purchase your own bowling shoes, then you need to know where to buy them. You can find bowling shoes at most sporting goods stores, as well as some department stores.

You can also purchase them online – there are a number of reputable sites that sell bowling shoes for women and bowling shoes for men.

Some of the best bowling shoe brands include Brunswick, Dexter, and BSI. They make high-quality shoes that will last you years. You’ll pay a pretty penny for them, but they’re worth it.

In most cases, you should expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $200 for a good pair of bowling shoes. Bowling near me, it all depends on the brand, the style, and the features.

The most basic shoes will be on the lower end of that price range and won’t include all the bells and whistles. Higher-end shoes will – they’ve got cushioned insoles, extra padding, and more to make you feel comfortable as you bowl.

No matter what your budget is, you should be able to find a pair of bowling shoes that meets your needs.

Bowling shoes and ball for a bowling game are positioned in front of the foul line on the lane.

What Should You Wear When You Go Bowling?

Your bowling attire depends on the type of bowling alley you’re going to. Some alleys are casual, while others are a bit more formal. For example, if you’re going to a family-friendly bowling alley during the daytime, you can get away with jeans and a t-shirt.

However, if you’re going to a more upscale bowling alley at night, then you might want to dress up a bit more. But no matter what you decide to wear, you’ll still need to wear bowling shoes, which tend to be far on the casual side.

So, keep that in mind. 

Of course, the most important thing is to be comfortable. Bowling in a tuxedo or slinky dress is a bad idea all around. They hinder free movement, which could negatively impact your bowling skills. 

In addition to your shirt, pants, and shoes, you should never forget your socks. Though bowling shoe rentals are regularly cleaned, the idea of wearing them barefoot is off-putting to most.

Also, wearing bowling shoes without socks can quickly turn into a very sweaty affair. So, we recommend always wearing socks at the bowling alley. 

Can you wear Converse bowling?

Bowling in converse sneakers

No. Converse sneakers are not bowling shoes.

Converse are not bowling shoes. They were traditionally worn as basketball shoes and commonly known as Chuck Taylor’s or just Chucks. Converse sneakers have a rubber bottom and are designed to grip the basketball court, which can be a hazard on the bowling approach.

What bowling shoes does Brady McDonough wear?

Can you resole bowling shoes article

Brady McDonough bowling has taken the world by storm. He has been seen bowling in 3G bowling shoes.

Do you have to wear bowling shoes during COVID?

Depositphotos 307396806 s

Yes. Bowling shoes are still required during COVID.

Since the world has opened back up, bowling lanes still require bowling shoes. Some people have opted to purchase their own shoes versus renting at bowling centers.

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Once you’ve found the perfect shoes, socks, and outfit, you’re ready to hit the lanes and roll a few! We hope this article has helped you to understand what shoes you need to wear when bowling. Have a ball!