Finding Motivation and Mental Focus Comes From Within
by James Goulding III
How many times have you seen a team mate throw a bad frame, only to lose their cool and subsequently it costs them an open the very next frame? It happens all the time, and I bet each and every one of us who have ever picked up a bowling ball and bowled competitively have a similar experience to what I just mentioned, only it is YOU, and not a team mate, who is the culprit.
Most of us competitive bowlers are now a week or two into the fall league season, and as we get back into the swing of things (no pun intended), we must remind ourselves that the game of bowling is all about your ability to deal with adversity, and how to make the best out of bad situations. What I basically mean is that bowling is about 90% mental, and only 10% physical. Anybody can say they love to bowl when they shoot their first 300, or a high series, or strike out in the 10th frame to win a match. But, how many times have you said you love the game after shooting a career low game or series, or split in the 10th frame to lose a match by 2 pins? If you love something, you need to realize that there are going to be good times, and bad times, but keeping a level head and motivating yourself from within will help lessen the impact those bad times have on any potential good times you might miss out on otherwise.
I find that you need to have the mentality of a closer in baseball when it comes to bad shots in bowling, which means you have a short memory and live in the moment. When you whiff a 10-pin, let it go, don’t stew over it for the next three frames, or you will lose your mental focus altogether, and snowball toward a terrible finish, and wonder what happened at the end of the game. Just let that open go, and concentrate on the next good shot. You will find that by doing this, you have allowed positive thoughts to fill the space that would otherwise be filled by negative images of the open you just threw, and allow you to re-focus your efforts on making good, clean, crisp shots going forward.
Also, start keeping a running journal during bowling. Many bowlers do not realize the power of simply tracking your shots frame by frame, and seeing where you might be making your mistakes. Also, I like to keep track of which lanes I am bowling on, and what ball I threw, so that I have a good idea of what works, and what to stay away from the next time I bowl on a certain pair of lanes. The biggest reason for tracking your scores is simply repetition of the mind, and the power of cognative repeatability. What I mean is, by writing down your shots after each frame, you are channeling your brain to think more about your game and ways to improve it, instead of thinking about what Rita the waitress is wearing, or what the high score is on the pinball game in the game room. This is just another tool to sharpen your mind, and help overcome those lulls when one may lose mental focus.
Visual imagery is another powerful mental tool that can improve your game. Close your eyes and visualize where you want the ball to go, think about what arrow it goes over and watch as it goes down the lane and thunders into the pocket for a strike. This technique takes some practice, but once you get it down, it is VERY effective in helping your brain understand and guide your physical being toward throwing quality shots down the lane shot after shot.
By using the power of positive thinking, the cognative repetition of score tracking, and visual imagery, you will notice a marked improvement in your scores without ever having to set foot on the lanes for practice. Like I said earlier, bowling is 90% mental and 10% physical. Once you learn some tools and techniques that work for you consistently, you will have an advantage over every opponent, and will learn to enjoy the game of bowling no matter what you score. Take care, and any questions or comments are always welcome. Thank you for reading, good luck and good bowling!
– James Goulding III