If you can control your mind, you can control your game. It’s well known that the most dominant and consistent athletes are often the toughest mentally. Whether things are going perfectly to plan or the wheels are coming off, the strongest athlete remains calm and keeps their focus. This is especially true for bowling, a sport in which a slight misstep or turn of bad luck can ignite even the coolest of heads.
Training the bowling mental game
To help you discover clearer thinking and laser-sharp focus on the lane, Kim Terrell-Kearney and sports psychologist Dr. Dean Hintz introduce a simple technique both amateur and professional bowlers can practice to hone their bowling mental game. The process for developing a strong bowling mental game begins with tricking the brain into relaxing and not forcing the issue. Oftentimes, when a bowler steps up for an important shot, they’re thinking hard about the fact that they need a strike. When the mind repeats over and over that it’s either a strike or it’s all over, the body becomes tense and your job becomes harder.
To battle the body’s natural reaction to tense up in a stressful situation, Dr. Hintz recommends a quick training method for sharpening the bowling mental game. Here’s how it goes: grab your ball, go through your normal routine, and then intentionally miss the front pin. That’s right; rather than convince yourself you must have a strike and shooting for the pocket, go through your regular steps with the goal of leaving the front pin standing.
First, miss it left. Then miss right. Once you’ve gotten your mind and body used to coming up pocketless, try to hit the pocket. If you’re remotely successful, you may find that you feel more at ease. The goal is to trick your brain into thinking that a strike isn’t the only acceptable outcome, but it sure does feel nice when they all go down.