Attitude, Destructive or Constructive by Ed Cotter
As a coach, it’s my job to help others learn, understand, and perform better. Helping other people can be a lot easier than listening to my own advice. Those that know me will attest that I’m very competitive. I do try to support everyone, even the person I’m bowling against. I try to live by the karma that if you wish bad luck on others you will suffer the same fate. What I’m going to discuss may seem out of place to those that know me. I am going to try to heed my own advice. Hope by writing it I can reinforce it to myself.
James’ ‘How Serious is League Bowling’ blog touches on the aggressive (show boater) personalities that arise during various league formats. The show boater does many things to emphasize his abilities trying to psych out their opponent, especially when they have the advantage. Along this lines in the other direction, I was reading an article, ‘Shoeing Up for High Stakes Tournament Play’, by Sports Psychologist Dr Dean Hinitz. His article discusses working on your psychological approach to inadvertent shots and your reactions. Synopsis of the article is to contain your emotions when you make an inadvertent shot. You notice I wrote when. Everyone will make an inadvertent shot. If we were always perfect, we would have a 300 average. His article reminds me of a scene from ‘A Few Good Men’. Tom Cruise is briefing his team on how to handle the unexpected in the courtroom. Basically, he tells them to act as if everything that happens was what they expected to happen, do not act surprised by anything.
I’m going to blend these together for my discussion on attitude. And I hope to heed my own advice. I agree that show boaters can be insufferable. Always rubbing your nose in it when they have the advantage. Conversely, the emotional train wrecks that display every negative emotion to an inadvertent shots. You’ve probably seen them all; hit/kicked equipment, thrown items, and or fowl language. Both behaviors are destructive to others and or your team.
As a high school coach, there’s one thing readily more apparent to me as I progress in my years of doing this. Very few bowlers are mentally prepared for bowling. They tend to focus on the physical aspect and neglect 90% of their game, mental preparation. Good mental/psychological preparation will negate the show boaters and train wrecks. I emphasize to bowlers that there is only one place blame can be laid for inadvertent shots, themselves. The bowling ball, pins and lanes are inanimate objects and can’t doing anything without bowler intervention.
Here’s my advice to bowlers. Yes, to those who know me, I’m reading this and trying to emphasize this to myself. As I have emphasized to my bowlers, everyone, myself included, that the mental game is always a work in progress.
1. Stay positive – this is the most important thing you can ever do for yourself. Yes, to those that know me, I know what I just wrote. Inadvertent things will happen, dwelling on them won’t help as much as learning from them will. Trust me, I know personally how hard this is to do.
2. Good sportsmanship – positive and supportive attitudes reaps positive results. This will help you deal with the show boater and train wrecks as they try to wreak havoc in the bowling world. By offering congratulations on good shots to these bowlers you emphasize how little how they are acting affects you. This can be a serious ally when you need to be at your best for an important shot.
3. Control your emotions – a tantrum after an inadvertent shot tells your opponent that you’re not in control of your game and provides them with a psychological boost. Act as if you know what happened and how you’re going to fix it. Don’t give your opponent an advantage on a silver platter.
4. Focus on the now – dwelling on the past negatively affects your game and it takes longer to change the momentum of your game in a positive manner. This is where I emphasize to bowlers to be frame stupid. Learn from your inadvertent shots but do not dwell on them. Again this is no simple task. You have to remind yourself to find the lesson learned and cranially dump the rest.
I’ll be the first to admit this is easier said than done. But the exceptional bowlers have mastered this approach. their mental game is sound enough to withstand an inadvertent shot and bounce back like the inadvertent frame never happened. As long as we realize that this is a work in progress, there is hope for all of us. Good luck and good bowling.