Can You Wear Bowling Shoes Outside?

Bowling shoes play a significant role in the success and safety of bowlers, providing them with the perfect balance of slide and grip on the lanes.

However, did you know there are potential risks associated with wearing these specialized shoes outside the alley?

In today’s blog post, we’ll delve into the dangers of sporting your bowling shoes beyond their intended purpose – exploring concerns such as increased slip risks, potential damage to both your shoes and bowling alleys, and even possible legal consequences.

Let’s get started.

Can You Wear Bowling Shoes Outside?

No, you can’t wear bowling shoes outside of the alley. They’re not intended for outdoor wear or prolonged exposure to outside elements. And here are the reasons why.

Specialized Design And Materials For The Lanes

Bowling shoes are specifically designed to cater to the unique conditions present at bowling alleys. The special materials and construction of these shoes serve a distinct purpose – ensuring optimal performance and safety on lanes.

For starters, they often feature leather uppers, which not only offer durability but also provide the necessary flexibility for natural foot movement during play.

Traditional bowling shoe soles involve an intricate combination of rubber traction pads and smooth sliding areas made with microfiber or other pliable materials.

This design enables bowlers to achieve the perfect balance between grip and slide on polished wooden surfaces treated with lane oils. With this specialized feature, players can confidently execute crucial weight shifts while minimizing risks of slips or injuries during their approach toward the foul line.

Safety Concerns

As a seasoned bowler, I always take safety seriously when it comes to wearing the right shoe gear. Bowling shoes are designed with safety in mind for use within the alley and not outside of it.

Aside from being unsafe on outdoor surfaces such as pavement or grass, wearing bowling shoes can also pose health risks by bringing dirt, grime, or other contaminants into the alley.

Such contaminants may make their way onto your feet or equipment resulting in exposure to dangerous pathogens such as bacteria and fungus harbored by rented bowling shoes that have been used before.

Potential Damage To The Shoes

Wearing bowling shoes outside the alley can cause potential damage to the shoes. The soles of bowling shoes are specifically designed for sliding on slick lanes and are made from a soft rubber material that can be easily damaged by rough surfaces like concrete or pavement.

If worn outside, the soles will quickly wear out or may even become completely detached from the shoe itself. This not only causes an inconvenience for those who need to rent a new pair of shoes every time they visit an alley but also creates a cost problem for alleys themselves having to replace their rental shoe inventory frequently.

In addition, walking around on outdoor surfaces increases the likelihood of picking up pebbles or rocks that could potentially scratch up the bowling lane approach and cause expensive damage.

Uncomfortable For Extended Wear

As a frequent bowler, I can attest to the fact that wearing bowling shoes for an extended period of time can be quite uncomfortable. The shoes are not designed for outdoor use and have a stiff construction to support the foot during the sliding motion on the lane.

This makes them less breathable and more rigid than regular athletic shoes.

During my first few times at the alley, I made the mistake of keeping my bowling shoes on while walking around between frames. My feet would ache after just a few minutes due to being in an unnatural position and lacking arch support.

To avoid this discomfort, it’s recommended that you bring your own slippers or change back into your regular shoes when leaving the alley

Alternatives To Wearing Bowling Shoes Outside

Can You Wear Bowling Shoes Outside

Bringing A Change Of Shoes

One easy solution to avoid the risks of wearing bowling shoes outside is to bring a change of shoes. It’s always best to wear regular outdoor shoes when walking around and use bowling shoes only when playing in the alley.

Bringing a pair of slip-resistant athletic shoes as an alternative can also be helpful, especially if you plan on going straight from your game to other activities outdoors.

I always make sure that I pack an extra pair of comfortable outdoor footwear whenever I hit up the lanes for some fun with family or friends. It’s a simple way to keep my toes safe while enjoying myself during my downtime.

Renting Shoes From The Alley For Outdoor Use

One way to avoid the risks associated with wearing bowling shoes outside is by renting shoes from the alley for outdoor use. Most bowling alleys offer shoe rental services, allowing bowlers to rent shoes at a low cost.

As mentioned before, these rental shoes are designed for use specifically on the lanes and are regularly cleaned and sanitized by the alley staff. By renting shoes from the alley, you can avoid tracking dirt and debris into the building while ensuring that your own personal footwear remains in good condition.

Investing In A Separate Pair Of Shoes For Outdoor Wear

If you’re an avid bowler and enjoy spending time outside, investing in a separate pair of shoes for outdoor wear may be the best option.

Not only will this help prolong the life of your precious bowling shoes, but it can also prevent any potential damage to the lanes caused by dirt or small stones that you might track into the alley.

Opt for slip-resistant shoes with good traction control that provide ample support when walking on various surfaces. When selecting new footwear, keep in mind that they should not have hard soles or heels as they can damage wooden floors at bowling alleys.

Choosing Slip-Resistant Shoes

It’s important to consider slip-resistant shoes when deciding what to wear outside the bowling alley. Shoes with good grip can help prevent slips and fall on wet, slick, or uneven surfaces.

There are several options available, including athletic shoes specifically designed for non-slip traction control, nonslip work shoes designed for safety on slippery floors, and outdoor footwear made with sturdier materials for added support and traction.

It’s also a good idea to look for shoes that are water-resistant or have moisture-wicking properties to keep feet dry in inclement weather.

Selecting Shoes For Outdoor Wear

When it comes to selecting shoes for outdoor wear, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you want to choose shoes that have a good amount of traction control.

This will help minimize the risk of slips and falls while walking on various surfaces outside of the bowling alley.

It’s also important to consider the potential exposure to outside elements like dirt, grime, water, salt or any other substances that can damage your bowling shoes or bring contamination into the alley.

You may want to opt for a separate pair of shoes specifically designated for outdoor use or simply pack an extra pair when heading out.

Proper Bowling Shoe Care

Cleaning And Sanitizing The Shoes

As a responsible bowler, it is crucial to keep your bowling shoes clean and sanitized. After all, rented bowling shoes are breeding grounds for several microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi.

One way to sanitize them is by using a disinfectant spray that contains at least 70% alcohol or bleach solution.

Additionally, cleaning your bowling shoes regularly can help prolong their lifespan. Use a damp towel or sponge with mild soap to wipe down the surface of the shoes after each use.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers as they can damage the material of the shoe over time.

Keeping Them Dry

As we highlighted earlier, bowling shoes are designed with special materials and soles that provide excellent slides on the lanes. However, they also tend to absorb moisture easily.

After use, wipe your shoes down with a clean cloth and allow them to air-dry completely before storing them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Don’t use heat sources such as heaters or hairdryers as this can cause damage to the material of the shoes.

Storing Them Properly

After a game of bowling, it is important to properly store your rental or personal pair of bowling shoes. This will not only help preserve their quality but also ensure that they remain clean and sanitary for future use.

One useful tip is to store them in a shoe bag or separate compartment in your bowling bag to avoid contact with other items. You can also invest in shoe trees or inserts to maintain the shape of the shoes and absorb any excess moisture from sweat.

Regular cleaning and sanitizing after each use will also help prolong their lifespan and effectiveness on the lanes.


In conclusion, wearing bowling shoes outside the alley can pose several risks to both the bowler and the lanes. It’s important to remember that these shoes are specifically designed for safety and optimal performance while on the lane.

Alternatives such as bringing a change of shoes or renting outdoor-specific shoes can help minimize these risks. Taking proper care of your bowling shoes is also crucial in ensuring their longevity and cleanliness.

Last updated on June 11, 2023