We talk about a number of different ways to up your bowling game here on our site, so a discussion on bowling shoes is definitely an essential one to have. There is only one piece of equipment more important than your shoes, and that’s your ball. Talking about your bowling ball is an entire discussion in itself so we will be addressing that separately. In fact, your shoes are arguably more important than even your ball. The good thing is that these are actually a fairly simple addition to make to your set of gear.
Different people are likely to pick up a pair of their own shoes for a number of different reasons. Of course, serious bowlers who want to see higher scores on the screen will get some in order to help them do that. Whether someone is looking for bowling shoes for men, bowling shoes for women, or kids bowling shoes, this is possible for just about everyone. But, there are also reasons completely separated from how well they will enable you to actually bowl. If you haven’t considered them before, these factors may be even more persuasive than anything else.
Have you ever thought about the fact that when you rent bowling shoes at the bowling alley you’re using them for just a few hours and then returning them back to the counter from which they came? As soon as you do that, they are likely to be rented out to the next customer. Furthermore, before you had those shoes in your hands they probably came fresh off the previous persons feet. Next time you rent a pair of bowling shoes I invite you to pay attention to whether those shoes feel slightly warmer than room temperature. If they do, then you can be sure that not long before they were hugging the unknown feet of a complete stranger.
Do you know where those strange unknown feet have been? Do you know what those feet might be infected with? Of course not. And that’s the problem. Are you really comfortable with that total uncertainty? When you put on a pair of shoes that was very recently worn by somebody else you’re placing a whole lot of trust in those shoes, and in those people. We’re not talking about this to make you lose your lunch, although we do understand if you are getting a queasy feeling. It makes us queasy talking about it too. What we’re trying to do is remind you to be aware of some of the unknown risks when renting bowling shoes.
Let’s assume that at some point in time you will pick up a case of athlete’s foot by renting bowling shoes each time you visit the bowling alley. Discomfort aside, the cost of treating this affliction will easily outweigh the cost of just buying a pair of your own from the beginning. And while we’re talking about cost, the discomfort that you will experience is also something that you should certainly keep in mind. It’s not something that will go away next week or next month. In fact, it may never completely go away at all. Making a small investment in your own pair of shoes is a small price to pay for a lifetime of happy feet.
You may now be more aware of some of the disadvantages and dangers related to renting shoes at the bowling alley, but you may not be fully convinced that buying your own shoes is necessary. Some people aren’t sure why it’s even necessary to use bowling shoes. You may think that you could bowl just as well in a pair of shoes that you already have at home, and even if you can’t bowl as well, you may be okay with that. However, it’s not just a matter of whether you want to wear bowling shoes or not.
Most bowling alleys require that you wear bowling shoes in their facilities. Actually, that’s not completely correct. You can wear street shoes in areas that aren’t on the bowling floor itself. But when you’re stepping on the smooth, carefully polished wood, you’re expected to be wearing the appropriate footwear. This shouldn’t be so surprising. After all, would you want people trudging around your own home if you don’t know where their shoes have been? If they’ve been walking through mud, rocks, paint, or who knows what else you wouldn’t want them tracking that stuff around your floor, would you?
If you can imagine feeling this way about your own home, then think about how much more true this is for a floor with a very specific function like the floor at a bowling alley. Bowling facilities spend a lot of time meticulously caring for this wood surface. They wax and polish it regularly to keep it smooth and slick. If they allowed people to walk on the bowling floor with the same street shoes that they came in with they might be exposing that surface to dirtying and potentially damaging materials.
It’s very easy to get small rocks stuck in the crevices in the soles of your shoes. Even just one of these rocks can do tremendous damage to a smooth polished surface when walked across it over and over again, and especially when sliding across it in the motion of a bowling stroke. This isn’t only bad for the bowling establishment itself, but it’s bad for every other fellow bowler that enjoys going to it. If the floor is all scratched up, then future bowlers will have to deal with the negative effects that this no longer smooth floor will have on their ability to slide during their own bowling strokes.
Even simply walking from your car into the bowling alley can lodge one of these rocks into the soul of your shoe. And that same short stroll can also bring additional hazards. If you don’t have white soles on your shoes you may not have noticed, but black pavement and dirt and mud have a way of fixing themselves onto the bottom of your feet. If you do have white souls on your shoes, then you probably have noticed this before. So, when you track this dirt and blackness onto the bowling floor it will gradually work its way into the wax and into the wood of the bowling alley.
I don’t know about you, but for me, a big part of the excitement that comes with stepping into the bowling alley is thanks to the bright lights shining off the impeccably polished golden floor. If this floor becomes tarnished, dirty, and dingy it will detract from the overall experience and fun of bowling for everyone. I realize that this might seem like a small thing, but often small things can make a big difference. It’s true that bowling floors are cleaned, waxed, and polished on a regular basis, and this will often mitigate the effects of dirt or damage, but not all the time.
If dirt is tracked onto a floor and it is not completely cleaned before the floor is waxed, then the wax can actually cause the discoloration to be embedded into the surface. Like many floors in large facilities they are cleaned by machine. Areas that are especially dirty may not always be identified by careful human observation. While automated floor cleaners get the job done for the most part, they are far from perfect. If you’ve ever tried to put a heavily soiled dish into your dishwasher and found that it was not completely cleaned after the washing cycle, then you can imagine that the same thing can happen with dirty floors.
Some people would argue that just because people wear bowling shoes, it doesn’t mean that those shoes are always going to be free of dirt or rocks. Especially if people bring their own bowling shoes, the bowling facility obviously can’t control where else those shoes have tread. Maybe people wear their bowling shoes as they’re walking across the parking lot. If they do so they are just as likely to track dirt or rocks onto the floor as someone wearing street shoes. It may be true that bowling shoes have fewer crevices than street shoes since they are made to be smooth and slide across the floor. But if somebody stepped on a pin or a nail in the parking lot this could do serious damage to the floor too.
This argument points to an exception to the rule that we are trying to describe. Overall, most bowlers who own their own bowling shoes will not walk through the parking lot with them. They will enter the bowling alley with their street shoes and then change into their bowling shoes once they’re ready to get started with a game. Since this is true 99% of the time there is little value in being overly concerned with possible isolated exceptions to this general rule.
Something else to keep in mind is that from the bowling alley’s perspective it’s not just about being concerned about damage to the floor. Allowing customers to wear street shoes while they bowl can also damage the overall image and experience for everyone there. It just looks untidy when there are people wearing all kinds of random street shoes while they bowl. Try to imagine this in your mind. If you were bowling and looking around you, and you saw one person in the lane next to you wearing a pair of black sneakers, and another person wearing some open toed sandals, and yet another person wearing hiking shoes it would be so inconsistent that you wouldn’t really feel like you were in a proper bowling alley.
This is another one of those unconscious things that is hard to put your finger on, but I think that when you do the thought exercise you can imagine how unappealing it would be. So, making sure to wear actual bowling shoes when you bowl, whether they are your own or whether they are rented, enhances your own overall enjoyment. That alone should be enough to convince every reader of the value of wearing the right shoes to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Until this point we’ve hopefully done a good job of explaining why it’s important to wear bowling shoes at the bowling alley in general. Now let’s talk a little bit more about some of the advantages that come with getting your own bowling shoes versus simply renting them every time from the bowling alley.
Have you ever tried buying a pair of shoes online? If you have then maybe you’ve noticed that shoe sizes can vary widely from brand to brand and even from individual shoe individual shoe. You already know that if you order a pair of shoes that should be the perfect size for you but you try them and it turns out that they’re not it’s quite a hassle to send them back and try another shoe which, again, may or may not be a good fit. Why am I bringing this up? Because when you go to a bowling alley and you tell them that you’re a size 10 you are likely to deal with this same problem.
You may collect those shoes from the counter after waiting in line and then go to your lane to try them on. And when you try them on you may find that just like we talked about above, they don’t fit like you expected them to. So, you’ll need to take them back to the counter, possibly waiting in line again, and try again. While this certainly isn’t nearly as difficult as exchanging a pair of shoes purchased online, the time spent trying to find the right shoe is time you could’ve spent getting started on your first game. So why not avoid that hassle altogether with a pair of shoes that you know we’re going to fit you snuggly from the get-go. And, don’t forget that the more shoes you try on the more feet you’ve exposed yourself to, as we talked about earlier.
As you can see, the first advantage of getting your own pair of bowling shoes is that you know they’re going to fit comfortably right away every time, and you have that much more time to bowl. Another exciting advantage is the fact that you get to choose a style that you love when you get your own shoes. Bowling shoes for men and bowling shoes for women are more attractive when they are designed with you in mind. Of course, bowling shoes in general tend to have the same basic overall style to maintain some degree of consistency on the bowling alley. But there is at least some opportunity to show your individual style.
If you’ve got kids, then enjoying a few games of bowling together as a family is a great activity to strengthen the bond between you. When you decide to get your own bowling shoes, and you get kids bowling shoes that your children can be excited about it’s going make them want to go all that much more often. It’s going to make them want to do something that is fun, wholesome, and a really good way to get some basic exercise.
Anybody who has kids these days can relate to how difficult it is to find ways to keep your kids engaged and interested in an activity that involves anything other than a screen or a handheld controller. I was talking to a friend just the day before yesterday who mentioned that their one and a half year-old is addicted, and I mean medically addicted, to watching YouTube on their iPad. Let me say that one more time. This child is 1 ½ years old. I can think of all kinds of ways that too much screen time can be bad for kids, especially for ones that are so extremely young.
Of course, it’s easy to criticize parents for allowing their children to indulge in watching videos, or playing video games for multiple hours every single day. Many of us surely criticize ourselves for doing this in addition to criticizing other parents. But it’s important to acknowledge that this phenomenon exists not because parents are completely uncaring, inattentive, unloving, or lazy. Very often we have very little choice in the matter. Gone are the days when families could have a comfortable life on a single income from one bread winning spouse. The number of full-time stay at home moms or stay at home dads is very small.
The cost of childcare is also prohibitively expensive. If a parent decides to work so that they can pay for childcare they are likely to be better off not working at all. The cost of childcare can easily exceed the full amount of income, after taxes, they can be earned from a full-time job. It is for this reason that iPads, Nintendo’s, and computers become substitute babysitters for our children.
The friend that I mentioned above runs an English school with her husband. They teach English classes, ironically to children, every weekday from 2 PM until 9 PM. The husband teaches the classes, and my friend either assists with teaching the classes, or works on managing the paperwork and other administration that goes along with running your own business. Even when the husband is done working, the poor guy is so tired that he can hardly be expected to try to think of value creating activities to engage his small child in.
This friend of mine does have a grandmother who is kind enough to babysit their child most days. But from what I’ve been told, the grandmother allows the child to watch their screen for most of the day. I am tempted to ask my friend if the grandmother can play with the child more, sing them songs or do games together more often. But, at this point, I have decided that it’s up to my friend whether she wants to talk to her grandmother about that or not.
Well, there may not be much that they can do for engaging their child on busy working days. If they considered bowling, though, they may find that there is an activity there that everyone can enjoy together. It’s probably a little soon to teach a one and a half year-old to bowl but in a few years it might be a great way to wean the child off of the screen, if even only for a few hours during the weekends. This will be great for hard-working mom and dad who will also be able to relax and enjoy themselves while they participate in a healthy activity with their child.
When the whole family bowls with their own bowling shoes, the hobby will become that much more enjoyable for everyone. The soles of bowling shoes are made of plastic, and are designed to slide across the floor during your bowling stroke. It takes a little time to break in a new pair of shoes and the more you bowl the more you get used to the way your shoes are sliding at that particular time. Since so much of bowling well is about consistency, when you bowl with a pair of shoes that you are comfortable with, it can make your score much more consistent than it would otherwise be.
You may not realize that you are used to your shoes, and that this fact helps you bowl better. But I know that for me I noticed the difference after owning my own pair of shoes and then using a rental after not having used a rental for quite some time. I found that when I used the rental shoes I slid more than I was expecting to, and this really threw me off quite a bit. Sure, after a couple of frames I got used to it a little bit and I started bowling pretty normally again. But when I went back to my own shoes after that I again experienced a similar disorientating effect because my shoes slide less than the ones that I had rented.
If I rented shoes every single time, then the amount of slide would naturally vary quite a bit from shoe to shoe. I would never know how much slide to expect and I would be fighting to regain my balance each time I visited the bowling alley. In fact, this is what most people experience without even realizing it. You don’t realize that you’re not comfortable with your bowling shoes until you’ve experienced what it feels like to actually be comfortable with a pair of consistent shoes.
Whether you ultimately decide to make the relatively modest investment in your own pair of bowling shoes or not is of course up to you, but I hope that this discussion has at least given you some idea of what to consider. If you haven’t thought about the items that we discussed today before then maybe it will help you make a more informed decision from now on. If it does, then as a fellow bowling enthusiast myself, nothing could make me more satisfied.