Bowling Gear: Equip Yourself For Hours Upon Hours Of Pure Fun
Bowling Gear: Equip Yourself For Hours Upon Hours Of Pure Fun

When people hear about it, they think you’re talking about shoes, but there’s more to it.

It would be best to think about protection, comfort, and the precision of a perfectly weighted bowling ball that isn’t rented from the alley.

Having the right bowling gear is what sets you, a professional, apart from the ordinary bowler who only sees the lanes five times a year.

You love this sport, just like I do, so it’s time to outfit yourself with the right equipment and maintain that A-game.

Here’s everything you’re going to need.

What do You Need for Bowling?

Here is a breakdown of each component of your bowling gear.

In total, there are nine critical pieces of equipment that you’ll need. Everything else is just gravy.

Let’s go through them one at a time.

Bowling Ball

Custom Bowling Ball

Well, how are you going to bowl without one of these?

If you’ve used actual league-quality bowling balls, you’ll understand how different they are from the restocked balls at the local alley.

You have to select your bowling ball based on two factors: the weight block and the coverstock.

A good bowling ball will be made of reactive resin, particle, or urethane coverstock.

Plastic is the least durable here, but it’s an option for lower-tier balls.

Then, there are two types of weight blocks: high and low.

High mass is a more significant weight underneath the bowling ball’s surface or coverstock.

These are heavier because there’s more weight block material.

You also have low mass, which is smaller, sticks to the bowling ball’s core, and can be made into different shapes, unlike high mass cores.

This can help you aim your bowling ball in a specific pattern, such as if the core was oblong to give more weight to the ball’s front (where your fingers rest in the inlays).

It could provide a straighter roll and a better fit with the pins.

You’ll also see bowling ball manufacturers discuss different levels of lane conditions.

Low-condition bowling balls are better for housecoats or house lane conditions, where there may be minimal oil on the lane, which can help you score better.

High lane conditions mean more complex, so you’ll see a higher score on a scale (usually from 10 to 175) for professional, PBA tournament-style bowling lanes.

Conditioning matters; don’t overlook it.

Read Next – Best Bowling Ball for Synthetic Lanes

Bowling Shoes


Black Shoes For Bowling

I cannot stress this enough: your bowling shoes matter.

Many newcomers grab the cheapest pair, which might work for you, but there’s a lot to consider when buying bowling shoes.

For one, you need to know what material your sliders are made of.

Felt is cheap and comes off easy, but microfiber is high quality and provides a smoother slide, even if it doesn’t mean you’re going to glide as far. I hate to break it to your bowling shoes are generally uncomfortable. . Even in my guide on bowling shoes, where I cover comfort, it’s a hard sell.

That’s because bowling shoes are meant to be tough and durable, especially for all the hell you’re going to put them through.

They’ll come with cushioned collars and padded tongues, but I recommend wearing socks.

Sliders, rough design, and a strict sense of support.

Your bowling shoes need to support you by swinging your arm, letting go of that ball, and coming back up.

Even though the lanes are waxed or oiled (sometimes both), you can’t go slipping.

When you lean in to slide the ball down the lane, you’ll notice that you have a bit of traction padding underneath the heel.

This means that once you’re done, you can tilt back on your heel to give you stability now that the motion of tossing your ball is over.

More mechanics go into bowling shoes than most people realize.

Read Next – 10 Best Bowling Tapes of 2023

Orthopedic Insoles

Insoles For Shoes

I mentioned that bowling shoes could be uncomfortable, and I meant it.

The rubber insoles you get with most bowling shoe purchases can be durable, but that doesn’t mean they’re as comfortable or supportive as you’d like them to be.

Orthopedic insoles work well to fight pronation, flat feet, and many other damage symptoms that you may have done to your feet over the years.

Even if you don’t suffer from chronic foot pain, after enough bowling and standing for hours, you might find that you’ll be itching for the relief and comfort that orthopedic insoles provide.

Orthopedic insoles offer exceptional levels of comfort for pressure points and points of contact in your feet.

This can be the ball of your foot, arch, sides, or toes—where support, stability, and pain are issues.

These insoles might cost you about $50 for a good pair, but they’re generally rated for two to three years.

In my experience, it’s an essential piece of gear that I always have in my bowling shoes (and dress shoes, for that matter).

Bowling Clothes

Three Bowlers

Do you want to appear like a pro?

You need to dress like one.

Bowling clothes usually pertain to the shirt, but even then, you need to know about it.

Bowling shirts aren’t just designed to match your bowling shoe styles: they’re as functional as can be.

Please think of the dynamic motions you’re performing while bowling, and then picture doing it in a buttoned-up dress shirt.

It doesn’t sound easy or fun.

As you’ll notice, Bowling shirts have a very loose fit around the sleeves and the shoulder and are generally longer than your average T-shirt.

They’re flowy because they ensure you’re not showing your midsection while swinging your bowling ball downward.

They’re comfortable, but they also have a place on the single pocket to put your team logo.

Bowling clothes should be functional but also represent your expertise.

I’ve seen plenty of bowlers in sweatpants on the bottom and bowling shirts up top. This is a no-no.

You want jeans or khakis with a certain percentage of spandex or another type of stretchy material. Anything from 4% up to 10% is acceptable.

Keep in mind that those aren’t official rules or anything. It’s just a way to look stylish while also having a function.

You don’t want to tear your pants or feel like your range of motion is heavily restricted because of what you’re wearing.

It’s about what you’re comfortable in that will help you land a strike.

Just don’t make your friends feel embarrassed about your wardrobe choice.

Elbow and Wrist Guards

Putting Wrist Guards On Hands

Bowling balls are heavy.

They’re sixteen pounds in total, and while that may not sound like a lot (it’s roughly the weight of two gallons of milk), it’s a lot of pressure on your joints.

Think of it like this: when bodybuilders train their wrists for better deadlifts, they start with two-pound weights and do little wrist curls.

You’re applying eight times that amount of pressure, presumably without much practice.

It would be best if you had protection. A wrist guard will help provide stability, i.e., not allowing your joint to bend past a certain point, so you can’t possibly pull the muscle.

It can be a little tricky to learn how to throw your ball with one, but it’s imperative if you’re going to get serious about bowling.

I use a wrist guard, and I don’t use an elbow guard.

One of my friends uses both, and he swears by them—the point is, you at least need a wrist guard where it’s your directly affected joint.

If you have strong arms and, subsequently, strong elbows, you can get away with just a wrist guard.

Look for nylon with velcro straps for stability and a strong bond.

Finger Tape

Using Finger Tape

Alright, I want to explain why finger tape is considered a critical piece of bowling gear.

Despite your bowling ball having a weight block in it, whether it’s a low or high mass (weight block closer to the surface), the resin material on the coverstock is still prone to swelling.

Temperature and humidity changes can make a world of difference here.

For temperature, the ball can swell.

This can make the finger holes either smaller or larger and when you’re used to them being one specific way, that can mess you up.

Finger tape is used inside the bowling ball hole to resize and reshape it, giving you a better grip.

You don’t need it every single time. It would be best if you had it on hand for those frigid and scorching summer days—it will come in handy.


Powder Bottle

Have you ever seen the Flintstones?

Fred would always go to throw a bowling ball, but his fingers would be stuck in it.

While you’re not going to throw it and fly down the alley, you can completely mess up your throw.

Having slide powder is essential for precision shots, and it’s one of those things you find yourself needing as your skill increases.

If you can whirl the ball down the lanes, you need a more stable method of releasing the ball from your fingers.

Slide powder is dirt cheap. You can get it for about $4 an ounce; one ounce should last for two dozen games or more.

You don’t have to use it on every single toss, but it’s good to lube up your fingers and make the transition smoother.

Read Next – Bowling Balls Top 10 Most Expensive in 2023 (reviews)

Cloths and Towels

Cloths And Towels

Speaking of powder, you also need to keep your hands dry.

Having them all slick and sweaty isn’t going to make it any easier to throw the ball.

Having some clothes and towels handy allows you to wipe down your bowling balls.

Even if they don’t get residual oil from the lanes (depending on how well the bowling alley oils them), it’s still good to keep them dust-free between matches.

I don’t want to sound rude to bowling alley owners, but nobody is dusting the inside of those machines that bring your ball back to you.

Why would they?

Sometimes, your ball comes back dusty, which is not the same as using slide powder.

This is just something good to hand on hand in your bowling ball bag.

Read Next – Recommended Gear

Bowling Ball Bag

Miller High Life

Lastly, you need somewhere to store your bowling balls for transportation.

Since standard ten-pin bowling allows you to use two balls per frame before the pins are reset for your next round, you should have a bag that can fit two.

Since most bowlers (serious ones) buy their bowling balls, most bags are designed to hold two.

Any good bowling ball bag will be able to support the weight of your balls (obviously), but that isn’t enough.

It’s supposed to be comfortable to hold, which is why you’ll see ultra-padded handles or, more commonly, roller bodies like you see on suitcases.

The most convenient, by far, is a rolling bowling ball bag (and it’s fun to say out loud).

The wheels on the bottom help you maneuver it around without too many dynamic movements. Just be careful of those numerous steps found in most bowling alleys.

It doesn’t roll well on the carpet, so carrying your bag by the handle will appear better if you want to look like a pro.

Y’know, until you get into the parking lot and flip out those wheels.

Read Next – Best Bowling Bags 2023 – Buyer’s Guide 6 Bowling Bags

Do I Need Everything on This List?

Pro Bowler

As a long-time bowler, I have everything on this list when I bowl.

I don’t need to use slide powder every time, and I don’t need to use finger tape every time, but when I need it, I’m always glad it’s handy.

You can’t always predict every situation in bowling. It’s a relatively rigid, cut-and-dry sport, but there are variables to consider.

If you plan to be a professional bowler or compete in a local league, you should have everything here.

We talked about lane conditions for a brief moment earlier.

Lane conditions are entirely different once you play in a professional PBA environment.

A house lane is designed to aid you in sending the ball down the alley, like an assistance system, but PBA lanes will have different oil patterns to trip you up and make it more challenging to score.

That’s when the more specific items on this list come into play.

Is Bowling an Expensive Sport?

Holding Dollars In Wallet

Bowling can be expensive, depending on the gauge of gear you end up getting.

But there’s a very distinct differentiation we want to make right now: bowling can be expensive to start, but after that, it’s dirt cheap to maintain.

You’ll have to stitch rips in your bowling ball bag or get some new insoles now and again, but you can spend less than a Benjamin every year to maintain your bowling gear.

Do you know how expensive it is to maintain tennis racquets, hockey equipment, and other sports items?

A heck of a lot more.

Bowling can cost around $500 to get started—that’s two bowling balls, one set of clothing, some cheap rags, and a budget-friendly bowling ball bag.

Or, you can look at about $1,500 if you go for high-end bowling balls, some more comfortable fabrics for your clothing, and a top-notch pair of shoes.

Then you have to worry about the cost of bowling at the alleys, but that’s something you can’t avoid regardless of how high caliber your gear is.

Everyone ends up paying the same price to get in and play, so you have to weigh what you’re willing to spend on this sport.

Enjoy and Win at the Same Time

You have everything you need to create a perfect game, land strikes, and become king of the alleys.

Bowling isn’t an expensive sport to maintain, but it can get a little pricey to get started depending on the caliber of gear you have your heart set after.

Trying to get budget-level versions of all the items listed in this guide is okay. Remember that it might suffer quality and last for 2-3 years instead of 10+.

If you’re not considering the pro leagues, you can buy one high-quality bowling gear at a time and slowly build your collection.

You can rule the lanes. You need the right gear to get you started on the straight and narrow.

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Roman Urich
Hello, I'm Roman Urich, a passionate bowler and bowling enthusiast. Welcome to Land of Bowling, a website that provides valuable tips and insights on improving your bowling game. As a dedicated bowler, I have spent countless hours honing my skills and striving to perfect my technique. Through my experiences and continuous learning, I have gained a deep understanding of the sport and have achieved notable achievements on the lanes. I believe that bowling is not just a game but a way of life. It requires skill, strategy, and mental focus to succeed. My goal with Land of Bowling is to share my knowledge and expertise with fellow bowlers, helping them to improve and reach their full potential. Whether you are a beginner looking for basic bowling tips or an experienced bowler seeking new techniques and advanced strategies, you will find a wealth of resources on this website. From proper form and technique to equipment recommendations and tournament advice, I cover many topics to support you in your bowling journey. But beyond the technical aspects, I also aim to create a community of passionate bowlers who can share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs. Bowling is not just about scores and pins; it's about camaraderie, sportsmanship, and the joy of the game. I invite you to join me in exploring the wonderful world of bowling. Let's enhance our skills, exchange insights, and celebrate the sport that unites us. Stay tuned to Land of Bowling for valuable tips, exciting updates, and engaging discussions. I’ve done my 10,000 hours, and with all that experience, I thought it would be a waste to keep it all to myself. Come here to learn, kick your feet up, learn about bowling, and get an honest first-hand review of everything you need for bowling. Thank you for being a part of this incredible bowling community. Best regards, Roman Urlich