October 24


Why You Have to Wear Bowling Shoes 

By Teddy

October 24, 2022

You’ve been bowling a few times before and had a blast. The shoes you rented were clunky, but they got the job done. This time, you’re planning ahead and bringing your own shoes. Surely regular sneakers will work just fine, right? Nope! If you want to avoid being That Person at the bowling alley, then read on to find out why you have to wear bowling shoes.

Why Regular Sneakers Won’t Do For Bowling

You might be thinking, “I’ve worn regular sneakers before and they were just fine.” And while that may be true, they weren’t ideal. Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Regular sneakers have flat soles while bowling shoes have raised heels. This may not seem like a big deal, but it actually makes it harder to slide when you’re wearing regular sneakers. 
  • The fabric on regular sneakers is also much smoother than that of bowling shoes. That slick fabric makes it more difficult to get the traction you need to make an effective shot. 
  • Wearing regular sneakers probably means your socks are slipping and sliding around inside your shoes. This isn’t just annoying; it can actually affect your game.

How Bowling Shoes Prevent Damage to the Lanes

These lanes are typically made of polished wood, which gives them their super-shiny and ultra-slick appearance. If everyone was allowed to bowl wearing the shoes they came from outside in, the lanes would soon be coated in dirt, grass, rocks, water, salt and other debris.

Street shoe dirt and debris can muddy up the lanes and make them less slick, which would affect your game and require additional cleanup time on the part of the bowling alley staff. Some of this debris could even scratch the surface of the lanes, which is very difficult to repair over and over. This could mean you have to pay more to bowl in order to account for the cost of cleanup.

Why Being Able to Slide Matters for Bowling

You might be thinking, “I can just bowl without sliding.” And while you technically can, it’s not going to result in your best game. That’s because sliding gives you more power and accuracy. 

When you slide into the shot, you build up momentum that carries down the lane and results in a more powerful strike. If you try to bowl without sliding, you’re likely to end up with a weak shot that goes nowhere. 

Sliding also helps with accuracy. When you slide, your body follows through in a straight line. This makes it easier to hit your target than if you were trying to bowl without sliding. 

The Origins of Bowling Shoes

The development of modern bowling can be traced back to Germany in the early 1600s. At that time, bowling was played outdoors on lawns; players would roll their balls at targets placed at various distances. In 1848, the game shifted indoors when using indoor lanes made of wood became popular in the United States. It wasn’t until nearly a century later, though, that gripping devices and standardized rules were introduced. These improvements made the game more similar to the one we know today.

With the introduction of indoor bowling came the need for specialized shoes. Before this point, bowlers simply wore their own street shoes while they played. However, indoor lanes are made of polished wood, which can be very slippery. This made it difficult for bowlers to get the traction they needed to throw their balls with precision. To solve this problem, bowling alleys started renting out shoes with leather soles that provided better traction on indoor lanes. 

Nowadays, the best bowling shoes have synthetic soles that provide even more traction and support than leather ones did. They also usually have interchangeable insoles so that bowlers can customize them to their own feet. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional bowler, wearing the right shoes can make a big difference in your game. That’s why serious bowlers often invest in their own pairs of shoes instead of renting them from the alley. 


So there you have it! Four reasons why you should always wear bowling shoes when hitting the lanes. Now go forth and bowl in style—your fellow bowlers will thank you for it!

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