If you’ve ever been bowling, you know how familiar the experience is. Bowling alleys are usually located in nondescript strip malls or standalone, warehouse-like dwellings, with the name of the alley in neon or floodlights on the side of the building. It’s nostalgic; we’ve all been there.
Once inside, the experience continues. Shoes are handed to you over-the-counter, almost like a pharmacist handing over a prescription—a prescription that ensures you don’t slip on or scuff up the slick wooden floors. Unless you have your own bowling shoes, you likely won’t have ever considered wearing them without socks.
It sounds odd, but theoretically you can go bowling sockless when hitting the lanes (while still wearing your bowling shoes, of course). The only reasons where it won’t be an option are to do with health, safety, or other protocols administered by the bowling alley.
Can You Wear Bowling Shoes Without Socks?
The short answer is yes, you are able to bowl without socks in some situations. However, it’s not always advisable to do so, and there are some instances where it’s not an option.
Whether or not you can wear bowling shoes without socks largely depends on the bowling alley and its protocols, as many institute rules requiring bowlers to wear socks in the shoes that they give out. This is generally to help ensure the health and safety of bowlers.
If you have your own bowling shoes, you can generally disregard this fact—you are free to do as you wish, unless the alley has specific rules surrounding wearing socks. If you do opt for no socks in your own shoes, be mindful to wash your feet or deodorize your shoes afterwards.
However, we will go into the reasons why you should wear socks while bowling, so read on to find out more.
Reasons You Should Wear Socks Bowling
The salient argument for wearing socks in your bowling shoes is related to hygiene. Feet have thousands of sweat glands, and socks provide important sweat-wicking benefits to your feet when you are getting active.
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when going bowling, but it’s important to consider hygiene and overall foot health when getting active—and bowling is no exception to this rule. Wearing no socks can lead to athlete’s foot or cause your shoes to give off a foul odor.
Safety is the next consideration. When you go without socks, you are taking away a layer of padding and protection. We’ve all had those one pair of bad shoes that rub up on our ankles or toes, causing the skin to blister.
By wearing socks, we are essentially giving our feet a nice cushiony protective barrier from the shoe, minimizing the risk of athlete’s foot, smelly shoes, and blisters.
Do Bowling Alleys Sell Socks?
Yes, most bowling alleys do sell socks.
Bowling alleys are enjoyed year-round, including in the summertime, a time of year synonymous with flip-flops, sandals, or other open-toed shoes that are generally worn without socks.
For most alleys (especially those requiring socks) they will have socks available to buy so prospective bowlers—such as those who’ve decided to wear a pair of Birkenstocks out and about on a hot summer’s day—don’t need to miss out.
If you would prefer not to fork out for a brand new pair of socks, some bowling alleys will have socks that you can borrow—not the most appealing thought. Our recommendation is to play it safe by bringing your own.
On the occasion that you do show up to the alley with no socks to don on your feet, you can rest assured that socks will most likely be available to buy on the spot.
Can You Bowl in Your Own Bowling Shoes Without Socks?
This is completely up to you. You are probably getting the feeling of our opinion on this; by most accounts (including those by medical professionals), it’s advisable to wear socks when you are wearing shoes to allow your feet to both sweat and breath.
Perhaps you have bowling shoes that are more breathable that the run-of-the-mill leather and rubber numbers. If this is the case and you’re used to wearing no socks with your shoes, it could be a better option for you.
With many other sports or activities, going no socks is much more commonplace. It can theoretically provide better feeling by removing a layer between your foot and the ground. However, a lot of the hygiene and safety issues remain the same.
If your heart so desires to go sockless in your own bowling shoes, the only thing that will stop you is if the bowling alley has rules against this. This may sound unnecessarily restrictive, but they often have good reason to do so.
The motivation for the alley to have a blanket rule is to not confuse other patrons. If a casual bowler wearing the bowling alley’s shoes sees other bowlers without socks, they may follow suit (and we know that this is usually a no-no for health and safety reasons).
Otherwise, try it out. It may end up helping your bowling, or at least make it a more enjoyable experience if it’s something you’re used to regularly doing in other shoes.
Comfort is key, after all.
Whatever your persuasion is when it comes to wearing socks with your shoes, you should be feeling more confident about your options when it comes to bowling.
If you are wearing shoes supplied by the bowling alley, it’s best to wear socks due to hygiene and safety issues. If you show up without socks, no worries; there’s almost always the option to buy a new (unused) pair at the alley. If you’re a regular no-sock kind of person, and you are in your own shoes that are sufficiently breathable and won’t cause blisters, then go ahead. Let your feet be free when hitting the lanes (within your shoes, of course).
In any case, do your research ahead of time. Call the bowling alley to check their protocols—and maybe pack a pair of socks, just in case.