Bowling shoes Vs. Volleyball Shoes [Similarity & Difference]

Think of the most outdoor sports shoes you can think of. basketball shoes, volleyball shoes, football shoes, etc. Now think of the most indoor sports shoes you can think of. Is it bowling shoes you’re thinking of? Well, there are specific shoes made for every situation (i.e.- walking, running) and the same goes for various types of sports.

There are even special shoes for liberos, hitters, and setters in volleyball alone. Liberos don’t wear the same shoes as others. They need the best volleyball shoes for liberos, simply because they have to make more movement than other players. Today we are here to talk about these two specific sports shoes- bowling shoes vs volleyball shoes. Do they substitute for one another? Let’s find out.

Do you love to bowl occasionally? Or, are you also into Volleyball? Well, then you will be needing two separate pairs of shoes for each gameplay. This is because many of us get puzzled whether to choose between bowling shoes vs volleyball shoes and end up purchasing only one pair to play both sports. Nothing can be a bigger mistake than that.

Bowling shoes are designed to help you slide and glide on a slippery smooth surface, whereas volleyball shoes are designed to help you run on the smooth yet matte surfaces where you will be needing traction. Moreover, you can put on a pair of volleyball shoes as a fashion accessory, and keep on wearing them outside the volleyball court. Oppositely, you can wear your bowling shoes only in the bowling alley. So let’s learn more about bowling shoes and volleyball shoes.

Differences between Bowling shoes and Volleyball shoes            

There are several distinguishable facts and features of bowling shoes and volleyball shoes you are probably unaware of. As mentioned, you can’t wear one particular shoe for another sport. But why so? Here’s why-

  • Soles and their functionality: Traction is the most important factor of volleyball shoes, whereas moving smoothly, a.k.a sliding is the number one priority for bowling shoes. Without sufficient traction, you can’t possibly run, and if you play volleyball wearing bowling shoes, it will mess up your shots. When you’ll face the defender, just an inch of extra sliding will ruin your possibility of a perfect shot. Therefore, traction is very important. The soles of the volleyball shoes are made with usually medium-hard rubber with lots of herringbone patterns etched in to enhance your stability for quick pivots, stops, and starts. On the other hand, bowling shoes only have sticky rubber materials at the heel area, but in the forefoot area, you will get materials like felt, microfibers that ensure superior sliding on the bowling lanes. So, you can see, how different these two shoes are when it comes to providing stability, balance, and traction. 
  • Cushioning: Usually, volleyball shoes come with lots of cushioning, because players are always on the move. Moreover, they are constantly jumping and running. Now if you think of bowling, well, you don’t run in the alley, nor jump with a heavy ball in your hand, do you? So, cushioning isn’t really a mandatory feature of bowling shoes. If you go play a volleyball match wearing non-cushioning bowling shoes, you will not only get your shoes damaged but also get yourself seriously injured.
  • Shock Absorption: Shoes that don’t have any sole support, or shock-attenuating capabilities (i. e.- Bowling Shoes), put a lot of pressure on your heel bones as well as your forefeet. We all know how extreme volleyball can get. So wearing non-supportive, shock-absorption-free shoes will injure you badly. If your wear shoes that don’t attenuate shock, your heels will absorb that. With time, this excessive pressure may lead to heel spur, tendonitis, nerve irritation, etc. Bowling shoes, on the other hand, don’t need shock absorption since there won’t be any extreme bodily movement. Hence, shock-absorption is not important.
  • Heel Type: If you’re still confused to distinguish between bowling shoes and volleyball shoes, remember that bowling shoes heels are slightly elevated, which means they are not totally flat. Contrarily, volleyball shoes are completely flat, just like the surface.
  • Comfortability: Bowling shoes have thin soles which allow you to feel the surface. However, volleyball shoes have comparatively thicker soles due to the foam and cushions. Additionally, bowling shoes have non-supportive upper. Oppositely, volleyball shoes have thick upper to protect your toes from getting crushed by your opponents as you’re running on the court. Because of these different features, volleyball shoes are indeed more comfortable than bowling shoes. 
  • Casual Wearing: ‘Can you wear bowling shoes outdoor?’- is one of the most common questions asked on the internet. The answer is simply ‘NO!’ However, you can wear volleyball shoes outside the courts. You can put them on at home and then, run/walk/drive wearing them to your courts. But bowling shoes are only for indoors. After you reach the bowling center, then you can switch to your bowling shoes, and take them off before leaving the place.
  • Weight: Bowling shoes are very lightweight since they don’t have any cushioning or padding. Volleyball shoes, on the other hand, are quite heavier than bowling shoes,  but not uncomfortably heavy. It won’t pull you down nor interrupt your performance/shots.

Why you should not use volleyball shoes for bowling?     

It is pretty obvious that you cannot wear bowling shoes for playing volleyball. But what if you are planning to wear volleyball shoes for bowling? DON’T! As we said, they can’t be substituted for one another, therefore, wearing volleyball shoes for bowling is a big no. The traction-providing rubber soles will prevent you from sliding your feet. During your arm swing and ball release, you will get stuck and possibly may fall. And, if that happens you will face major injuries, such as hip and knee sprains. Plus, for an indoor game, like bowling, excessive cushioning and support are unnecessary. It will prevent you from perfect shots and make you feel bulky needlessly.  If you want to know more details about why you need bowling shoes you can check here.


Bowling shoes and volleyball shoes- both have their own special functionality and are used for different purposes. A good pair of bowling shoes will help you play like a pro bowler. Similarly, the best volleyball shoes will help you play like a champion. So don’t get confused with their features. In fact, the only common thing they have is that they’re both sports shoes. So good luck! And, best of luck with the sport you prefer to play.


I’m an aspiring bowler with an immense love for bowling. I started playing the game at a very early age and it’s been an integral part of my life ever since.

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