“It’s Gotta Be Da Shoes!” Tips For Purchasing Bowling Shoes

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Picking The Right Pair Of Bowling Shoes

Anybody that was around during the mid 1980s probably remembers a fun Nike ad with Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon (actor/director Spike Lee). In the ad, Mars Blackmon continually asks Jordan “Is it the shoes?” that makes him so great. Of course, Michael Jordan’s talent is just a little better than his Air Jordan’s. But I will tell you the shoes are important in any sport and bowling is no different. From entry level to high performance, bowling shoes aka all-day shoes have come a long way. It doesn’t matter how many bowling balls you may have, if you don’t have solid footing or a comfortable shoe, there is virtually no chance of making a proper delivery.

The Evolution Of Bowling Shoes

As little as 20 years ago, entry-level shoes were really nothing more than your own personal rental shoes. Very hard, no cushion or support, not very fashionable, and they either slid 3 feet or not at all. Today entry-level shoes come in a wide variety of styles and colors for men and women. They are also much more comfortable and are built very much like a sneaker. Performance shoes have also come a long way. When I started bowling competitively and bowling in different centers, I carried two, and sometimes three different pairs of shoes with me that had different soles to combat the different approaches.

What If The Approaches Where I bowl Are Sticky Or Slippery?

Even though all the approaches then were still wood, there was still a huge difference in how much slide there was or wasn’t. If I bowled where there was a lot of humidity, the approaches were a little tackier because of the moisture in the air. If I bowled out west, especially in Las Vegas, the air was much drier and there always seemed to be a lot of dust making the approaches very slippery. Now there are shoes on the market that have interchangeable soles and heels to combat any condition of approaches. The best thing of all is that if you have a heel or sole that wears out or becomes damaged in some way, you can purchase new sole or heel instead of having to buy a new pair of shoes.

There is no doubt that these shoes are expensive, but the construction of the shoe is very solid as well as more comfortable than an entry level shoe because of more cushion and better arch support. There are also a few specific designs for players suffering foot injury or have bunions. According to Lilly Harvey’s post on https://shoeadviser.com/work-safety/best-shoes-for-bunions/, “bunions, without having surgery, will not go away, however, wearing the correct footwear and taking care of your feet will help you to manage your bunions. Most doctors will first try orthotics and correct the footwear before recommending surgery to remove the bunion. Bunions can affect quality of life, so it’s best to tackle them head on.”

I have had my shoes now for 5 years and I’m not even close to having to replace the shoes. The only thing I’ve replaced is one heel and a couple of soles over the five years. The high performance shoes also come with a shoe cover to protect your sole and heel when walking on the concourse or going to the restroom. If they’re in your price range, high-end performance shoes are one of the best investments you’ll ever make in bowling.

How Do I Maintain My Bowling Shoes?

There really is not much maintenance for bowling shoes. I do have a couple of tips however to make your shoes last longer. Don’t leave them in the car or in the garage! Especially in warmer climates. The heat breaks down the adhesive that keeps your shoes together. There have been many times in the pro shop come September where I would have a customer come in that took the summer off, left their shoes in their bowling bag that they left in the garage or trunk of the car, and ask if I have some glue to put their shoes back together. Sorry but super glue will not put those shoes back together.

Also, put your shoes in a place separate from your bowling balls. Just about all bags today have a separate compartment or shoe shelf for shoes. The weight of the ball will crush and change the shape of the shoes, not only making them uncomfortable to wear, but also make them more prone to cracking or separating. If you don’t have shoe covers, buy a pair. They’re well worth the small investment to protect the bottoms of your shoes.

If the bottom of your shoe becomes wet, the heels can be cleaned off but the soles are possibly ruined. If you have a pair of shoes that have interchangeable soles and heels, do not walk on the shoes without heels and soles on. You would think this is a no brainer, but there have been many times I have seen bowlers take off their slide sole to go to the restroom because they didn’t want to take the chance of damaging their sole. The interchangeable system uses Velcro to attach the heels and soles. Walking on just the Velcro will crush the hook and loop system that makes Velcro attach. Once this happens, the sole will not stick to the bottom of the shoe anymore and there is nothing that can be done to fix it.
The other area I want to address is brushing the bottoms of your bowling shoes. Brushing the bottom of your slide shoe will make you stick more not slide more. Especially when brushing the heels. Brushing the heel cleans the rubber and gives you more traction. So if you constantly have an issue sticking, it might be time to look into upgrading your shoe, or if you already have a shoe with interchangeable soles and heels, buying a new sole or heel.

The last tip is for breaking in your new shoes. Sorry but it takes a little time for this. The new heels are like a new pair of sneakers. They are very clean and very tacky. Once you get a little dirt and dust on them, they will slide fine. Just take your time. PLEASE do not use any baby powder or slide powder on your shoes. This can be very dangerous to not only you, but also to your teammates or competitors bowling on the pair with you due to the possibility of leaving a residue of powder on the approach. This is also against USBC rules.

As you can see, there is a lot more to shoes than meets the eye. Doesn’t matter what level you bowl, shoes are more comfortable, better performing, and more stylish than ever before. If you have any questions about this topic or a topic that you would like me to cover, please email me at [email protected]


4 thoughts on ““It’s Gotta Be Da Shoes!” Tips For Purchasing Bowling Shoes

  1. Charles says:

    Wow! This is a great article
    I can share this article for my friend. It’s can help them know more about bowling shoes. Special, it help them choose the best bowling shoes for themself.

  2. shane Willes says:

    I have had the same shoes for years. They finally wore out and I had to replace them. On my first roll with the new shoes I slid 1/8 of an inch and abruptly stopped.
    I landed somewhere past the arrows. I was covered in oil. I was told that is just they way shoes are now, they are LITERALLY made not to slide. My old shoes slid a foot and a half, which basically means I am just done bowling, I know it is a conspiracy .

  3. James Wood says:

    This is very effective and helpful article for bowling lovers. Yeah, From entry level to high level performer, bowling shoes are important in bowling league. And we should always keep in mind a pair of comfortable shoes is very valuable accessories to making a proper delivery. Thanks for your nice post.

  4. Brian says:

    I must say this a great article for a newbie. I am adding some random thoughts, Slide soles are very important for bowling shoes. Bowling shoes are not designed as like as regular shoe design. Sliding is added in the left feet shoes for right-handers and vice-versa for left-handers.

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