Bowling shoes or tricks to make rented shoes slide?
December 12, 2013 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Should I buy bowling shoes, or are there any tricks to make sure the rented shoes slide?

I like to bowl, but I don't bowl very often (maybe a handful of times per year). I'm decently adequate. I roll the ball straight, no curving. I use a house ball.

The problem is, I'm terrible if my shoes don't slide. The shoes which I rent seem to barely ever slide. I would have a lot more fun if they did. I see some bowling shoes on amazon for less than $40, and I assume if I bought them, with the amount I bowl, they would last a very long time. Should I buy some, or will shoes at that price have some problems I might not know about? Are there any tricks to make rented shoes slide?
posted by czytm to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Not sure why you want them to slide, but you could always just step over the foul line into the lane itself, which is oiled, before you start playing? No idea if that is frowned upon in the bowling world, though.
posted by Grither at 8:36 AM on December 12, 2013

The leather soles on bowling shoes is supposed to allow for slide, but over time they get worn and compressed, plus some people just need a bit less friction. There might be some kind of stick-on product you could add to rented shoes, but at that point a cheap pair of shoes with felt on the ball of the foot should go a long way. However, I would advise trying shoes on before buying them - otherwise you might not be happy with the amount of slide and they might feel like a waste of money.

I bowled in a casual league playing maybe 30 times a year, and I changed my shoes about every 18 months. The biggest effect on the life of shoes, IME, is wearing them off the hardwood lanes. If you never wear your bowling shoes to the snack bar or bathroom (change into flip flops or something), and wipe off the felt after you are done bowling, your shoes should last quite a long time.
posted by muddgirl at 8:44 AM on December 12, 2013

(Also, it should go without saying that intentionally stepping on the lane itself will get you kicked out of any respectable bowling alley. It's dangerous both to you and to anyone who accidentally walks through the oil that you'd be distributing around the rest of the alley.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:47 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some rental shoes have gripping rubber heels, others sliding leather. If you are unhappy with your local rentals, you might try some $4 sliding powder, before investing in new shoes.
posted by roofus at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scotch tape strips across the balls of the feet of the shoes, as well as anywhere else you need, will allow you to glide really well (it's an old trick for dancers in dress shoes).

Don't be shy about using a lot of tape; you really need to cover all areas that will need to slide.
posted by surenoproblem at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2013

You can also have a shoe repair person add "chrome leather" to help nearly any shoe slide. If you call a few places they can probably talk to you about what they've done for other bowlers.
posted by bilabial at 9:07 AM on December 12, 2013

There are a couple of products you can use for this...

Bowl Soles are adhesive stick-ons that you could put on street shoes, or even rental shoes. They are one-time use, and usually run about $3 per pair. I can't find an online retailer that carries these but they're usually available at the front desk of a bowling center.

You could also get a shoe slider like this one from Brunswick.

A quality, inexpensive bowling shoe would be something like the Dexter Ricky III. If you do buy your own shoes, stay away from BSI and Linds. They are very poor quality products, basically made out of cardboard.

If you have any other bowling questions, hit me up!
posted by slogger at 9:56 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is some kind of spray that makes bowling shoes super slippery. It's kind of fun and silly to slide around after spraying it on. No idea what it's called, Google it?
posted by at 7:10 PM on December 12, 2013

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