There’s is a direct correlation between top bowlers, within all levels of competition, and the best bowling shoes on the market. Simply put, a good bowler may own a pair of shoes, but a great bowler has a pair of bowling shoes which acts as a natural extension of his or her game. An efficient shot comes from the complexity and completeness of motion, with proper footwork serving as the catalyst for both power and finesse.
Without a pair of bowling shoes that facilitates such fluidity of motion, a bowler is left to compensate for inefficiency and their whole shot can be negatively affected. If weight displacement is off and the shoe doesn’t fit right, the entire system of a bowling shot is left behind the eight-ball (7-10 split?) trying to catch up to itself. With that being said, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for the serious bowler on all the attributes which separate a run-of-the-mill bowling shoe and the best bowling shoes out there.
What to Look for in Bowling Shoes
If you’re looking to get out of the rental bowling shoe cycle of high costs and low quality, it pays to look at your current game and frequency of play and shop accordingly. Athletic style bowling shoes are great for beginner and intermediate bowlers who bowl once a week. They offer the comfort and predictability of a good sneaker, yet also serve as a solid gateway and crash course for a bowler who may just be starting to get kinda serious about their game.
However, the real value over the long haul to help a quality bowler move up a few rungs in overall play comes from performance bowling shoes. The world of performance bowling shoes offers up a mind-blowing about of variations, types and sub-types which can also be customized to fit a particular bowler and their unique approach. They also have interchangeable soles which allows you to fit the slide of the shoe to your particular style. If you’re more than just a casual player who heads to the bowling alley on a whim, performance bowling shoes are the best investment for both the health of your feet and the evolution of your game.
Who Makes the Best Bowling Shoes?
Finding the best bowling shoes on the market is a tricky task as there are a wide array of different companies promising different things from their products, with varying results. We’ve compiled a list of 10 companies (in relative order of online customer awareness and satisfaction) in order to give you a good starting point if you’re looking to do some of your own research:
8) 3G Bowling
10) 900 Global
Best Men’s Bowling Shoes
Dexter is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to universal lists of the best bowling shoes on the market, and the Men’s SST 8 rank as the most talked about and trusted professional-grade item in their vast line of shoes. Made of imported leather with a comfortable soft full-grain leather upper, these shoes are both sleek enough to give you the perfect speed/fit combo and strong enough to last you through game after game in league after league.
They come with a unique totally interchangeable sole construction which allows you to customize your slide to fit your particular footwork and overall shot. The built-in toe drag protector keeps your soles from peeling back, ensuring that the quality of your shoes remains high while your game continues to improve. They’re also right- and left-hand convertible, making them the ultimate custom shoe for bowlers across the board.
These are an absolute gem when it comes to giving you optimum comfort and optimum performance in equal doses. The lightweight hand tooled cowhide leather build has an effortless heft to them which makes you feel light on your feet at the lanes. They include 3 soles (deer skin, back skin and chrome leather) and 3 heels (flat normal, rippled, and back skin), along with vented inner soles which allow your feet to breathe no matter how many games you’re playing.
They’re also extremely durable with a Kevlar toe cap and Kevlar rubber traction sole keeping your slide right and your shoes intact for the long haul. The customer reviews on these always laud their comfort level and perfect fit right out of the box. If you can get this kind of comfort from a professional bowling shoe without sacrificing the construction necessary to push your game to a whole new level, it’s a definite win/win.
Two shoes from Dexter in the top three? No wonder they’re the most trusted brand when it comes to the best bowling shoes on the market. While the aforementioned SST 8 is a true professional-grade gem with hundreds of reviews in its favor, it’s their T.H.E 9 Bowling Shoes which really pack the wow factor. Not only are they some of the more uniquely stylish professional-grade bowling shoes out there, they’re on the cutting edge when it comes to matching flexibility with durability.
Made of their softest leather but built with the added strength of revolutionary reinforced toeholds, these shoes are as comfortable as they are strong. The raised heel design lifts the middle of the shoe off the floor to reduce sagging, while the streamlined toe fit gives you much more control without sacrificing feeling at the front of the shoe. If you’re really looking to take your game to the next level with an investment that’ll keep on paying you back at the lanes, these are the top bowling shoes of the bunch.
Best Women’s Bowling Shoes
Combing an insane amount of five-star online reviews, a very reasonable price point, and a comfortable and durable rubber design, Dexter Vicky Women’s Bowling Shoes are the top-selling women’s bowling shoe on the market for good reason. Dexter is known for their inner-sole comfort, and these are no different. They’re narrow enough and sleek enough at the toe to give you ultimate control of your footwork, but that’s without sacrificing any comfort.
They also sport a retro design flair which has kept them at the top of women bowlers’ wish lists for years! While there are definitely professional-grade shoes on the market which offer more customization and cutting-edge features, these are the perfect shoe at the perfect price point for women’s bowlers of all different skill sets and all different frequencies of play.
This may be considered an upset considering STRIKEFORCE’s relative lack of a hold in the bowling shoe market, but their Women’s Kross bowling shoes have been getting rave reviews from customers all over the world for their superior overall comfort and lightweight design. They are made of soft (and extremely breathable) mesh which contours to your foot without feeling constrictive. They are also fully textile lined with a padded tongue and collar for extra plush feel.
Performance-wise, these are a steal. The non-marking rubber outsole and raised heel are both function-forward and extremely durable for the price point. Each shoe comes with a #8 Microfiber slide pad with patented FlexSlide technology built to give you effortless control of your footwork while maximizing your slide and the potential power/finesse combo of your shot. Just take a look at the Amazon reviews linked in the description and you’ll see nothing but happy customers in bowling bliss.
Two lists of three, four Dexter shoes all together. The truth is that Dexter has the market cornered when it comes to professional-grade bowling shoes which both last and give you the top-notch quality necessary to maximize your overall bowling game. A sleek cousin to the Men’s SST 8, the women’s version offers the same interchangeable sole design and soft leather construction which promotes both foot flexibility and overall comfort.
Interchangeable for left- and right-handed bowlers, there isn’t a shoe on the market today which allows you to customize to your shot and your particular style quite like the SST 8. Its versatility is second to none, while its classic style is the farthest thing you can get from an eyesore. The built-in toe drag protector ensures that the natural wear and tear from repeated use won’t cause separation or peeling of your soles, giving you a second-to-none durability which is worth the investment.
Best Bowling Shoes for Wide Feet Women
Colored in a stylish pink/black combination, these are some of the most popular women’s bowling shoes on the market. They’re extremely cost effective, but the real selling point for women looking for a wide foot bowling shoe is that they always run a size bigger and much wider than the average women’s bowling shoe. While they’re not necessarily the most advanced shoe on the market, they’re extremely durable with a lightweight EVA midsole that gives your approach an extra bit of lift.
They are the most widely-reviewed women’s bowling shoe on Amazon, with over three-quarters of those reviews coming in at four or five stars. That’s extremely high praise for a shoe that may not have a lot of advanced features to it. Simply put, these are just well-made bowling shoes that give women with wide feet a great fit for a fantastic price.
Best Bowling Shoes Under 100
If you’ve never seen a picture of these, they may in fact be some of the coolest non-bowling shoe looking bowling shoes on the market. They almost look like a pair of VANS with their charcoal grey slip-on style, but they’re even cheaper than a normal pair of those! And this comes with the normal Dexter quality and durability, including a molded removable blown EVA footbed which provides optimum comfort and foot control at all stages of your approach.
The convenience of the slip-on style means no laces to tie and nothing to get in your way as you work on your footwork at the lanes. They’re also vented on the side giving you added breathability and flexibility for your feet and the natural shifts that occur as you step. Loaded with five-star reviews and looking much less garish than what some bowling shoes go for, these are truly some of the most unique and best bowling shoes for a bowler on a budget.
Best Bowling Shoes for Beginners
Avid bowlers may associate Brunswick with the pins themselves, but their Vapor Men’s Bowling Shoes are a fantastic fashion-forward addition to the beginning bowler’s repertoire. If you’re looking for comfort out of the box with limited bells and whistles, these are a perfect fit. They’re synthetic and lightweight, giving optimum footwork control to a beginner who is still trying to figure out their entire shot.
Coming in at a price point under fifty dollars, they also don’t sport a prohibitive cost for a beginning bowler who is just trying to get their feet wet in the sport. The foam-padded collar and tongue make for a comfortable upper-foot fit. There’s enough functionality with these shoes for advanced bowlers to get some value out of them too, meaning a beginning bowler won’t necessarily have to double down on their investment as they start to gain in skill.
Bowlers who go to the lanes on an irregular basis can get away with renting old shoes at an inflated price point. But, anyone who is serious about the sport of bowling knows that the right shoe can make all the difference. From footwork to overall shot firepower, the right bowling shoes will up your scores and increase your margin for error no matter what your skill level. Whether it’s a cheaper athletic bowling shoe or a performance bowling shoe with all the bells and whistles, the best bowling shoes in the world come in all shapes and sizes. And if you’re a bowling enthusiast, that makes all the difference.