How Long Does It Take to Break In Bowling Shoes?

how long does it take to break in bowling shoes

If you’re a serious bowler, you may want to think about getting your own pair of bowling shoes. Although you can rent shoes from the bowling center, they use universal soles that may limit your gameplay. 

Bowling shoes are typically made of leather and rubber and they should take between 1-4 weeks to break in, depending on a few different things, such as the style, sole, and personal preferences. If you want to speed up the break-in period, there are a few methods that you could try. 

In this article, you’ll find out about how long bowling shoes take to break in, what to do to speed up the process, and what you should consider before heading out to the lanes.

Breaking In Bowling Shoes

When you buy new shoes, they often feel tight around your toes and at the sides of your feet. The last thing you want when you’re trying to concentrate on your game is to have that bit of extra material pinching at your heel every time you try to take a bowl. 

Therefore, it’s essential that you break them in beforehand, as it’ll definitely help you to be on your A-game. 

As leather is an organic material, they stretch a little more than others and the time it takes will depend on your desired fit, although typically, they’ll take between 3 and 4 weeks.

So, how do you break them in? You can try a number of different methods that’ll make them fit better, although they might differ for each individual. 

Walking Around

This is perhaps one of the more obvious methods for breaking in shoes. After all, you’ll be using them for this exact purpose. 

Put your bowling shoes on and walk around your house for a couple of minutes in them. Try to think about what kind of socks that you would typically pair with them and this way, they’ll be more comfortable when you begin to play again. 

You can choose how often you do this, but it’s recommended to do it at least every couple of days, especially while you are getting used to them. Once your bowling shoes begin to loosen, you can start thinking about trying them out in the lanes.


Like with other shoes, you can use a blow dryer to help speed up the process of breaking them in. Simply, place the shoes on your feet, whilst also wearing your preferred socks, and blow-dry round all of the surfaces. 

Once you’ve done this for a few minutes on each foot, walk around the house until the material has cooled down. By using heat, the material will help to mold more to the shape of your feet and will feel more comfortable when wearing your new shoes.

Tips for New Bowling Shoes

Tip #1 – Private: It may be ideal to rent your own private lane before getting involved in competitive games. As you haven’t yet tested them out in the right setting, your shoes may be a little unpredictable. Therefore, playing by yourself may reduce the stress of testing out new equipment.

Tip #2 – Practice: Before you decide to play a proper game of blowing, you should try and test them out first to see how they feel and work in action. Although walking around the house helps to break them in, you can only do this for so long.

 As the flooring is different, you’ll want to test them out in the bowling lanes. To begin with, try to take a few slides without the bowling ball just to see how easy they are to perform the actions you need to without the weight.

If it feels comfortable, you may then want to take a few slides with a bowling ball. If it doesn’t, then you’ll want to adjust the slide of your bowling shoes. You can follow on to the next section to find out how to do this.

Tip #3 – Protection: As they’re new, you’re going to want to make sure that you protect them as much as possible. Sometimes, in bowling alleys, especially with excitable kids, food and drink might be spilled here, there, and everywhere.

You really don’t want your new pair of bowling shoes to be ruined so it’s best to stay as near your lane as possible. 

Adjusting Your Shoe’s Slide

As the shoe’s soles are similar to the bowling alley, wearing bowling shoes will affect how well you play. It’s important that your shoes slide so that your throw will be smoother.

 If your soles were rigid and sticking to the floor, it would be a lot more difficult to maintain control and could potentially cause injury.

Especially with new bowling shoes, your slide may be off and will impact your gameplay. As you begin to break your shoes in, they will naturally slide more, but there are a few things you can do to adjust them.

Bowling Powder

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Bowling powder can be used to help your shoes slide more. Apply a small amount of powder onto the heel and sole of your shoes.

It’s important though, that you’re careful with the amount that you apply. If it’s too much, your shoes will be too slippery and could cause serious injury.

Remember: It’s much better to not apply enough and then add a little extra after if needed.

We recommend using this ultra slide bowling powder by Ebonite. It’s high quality and will completely eliminate the sticking of your shoes, and also works great on your thumb.

Steel Wire Brush

When you bowl, you typically apply a lot of pressure onto your foot, and this will cause the sole to wear over time. Worn-down shoes make it more difficult to slide properly as required and your feet may end up sticking. 

However, there is a solution for this! Prior to bowling, you should use a steel brush to scrape the sole of your bowling shoes from top to bottom. By using a steel brush, like this, removes the friction that causes your shoes to stick and makes them better for sliding. 

Interchangeable Heels and Soles

The conditions that you play bowling in could potentially change with the weather. For example, during the summer months when it tends to be hotter, the humidity could cause your shoes to become stickier. 

Therefore, when purchasing your bowling shoes, you should consider buying some with interchangeable slide soles and heels. This way, you’re able to change them as and when necessary to ensure that you can play in any circumstance. 

Maintaining Your Bowling Shoes

To avoid having to buy new bowling shoes, you should try to maintain their cleanliness. By doing so often, it’ll increase their durability. 

As well as following this cleaning method, you can also purchase protective covers for your shoes to preserve them for longer. 

How to Clean Them

To ensure that you’re able to play properly, you should check your shoes and clean them regularly. It’s very easy for debris to formulate on the soles of your shoes, so here’s how to wash them properly.

Firstly, check the recommendations for your shoe type as they may have slightly different requirements for washing. 

You’ll need:

  • A container
  • A soft, dry cloth
  • A mild detergent
  • A steel wire brush, like the one suggested above

To make the solution, mix some warm water with a minute amount of detergent in your container. 

You could remove your laces and work some detergent into them and leave them in the container to soak whilst you carry on cleaning the rest. Use the cloth to wipe over and clean over the surface of your bowling shoes. Use the steel wire brush to clean the soles and remove any debris. 

How Often to Clean Them 

This solution is cheap and simple and it’s a great way to maintain your bowling shoes. You may want to clean them after every use. 

If they are cared for properly, bowling shoes can last between 10 and 15 years, so this method increases their life and makes the initial payout a lot more worth it. 

How to Store Them

If you take a bowling bag to the center with you, chances are you’ll have your ball and other equipment in there too. It’s advisable to take them out, properly clean and polish them and then store them in a cool, dry area. 

If your bowling shoes get wet, then you should allow them to thoroughly dry before use. Additionally, to prolong their life, you should brush the areas that have become wet. 

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve purchased your bowling shoes, they should take anywhere between 1-4 weeks to break in. Hopefully, this has given you some idea of how you could speed up this process, i.e. wearing them around the house often or the blow dryer method.

Before beginning your game of bowling, you need to take some precautions with new shoes. Remember, private, practice, and protection!

When you’ve splashed out cash on some new bowling shoes, you’ll want to ensure that you can do everything possible to make them last for longer. By cleaning them regularly, you’ll do just this. Cleanliness helps your slide, and your slide helps you STRIKE lucky.

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