By Stephen Padilla on Jun 17, 2019 10:31:43 PM
Even if you have the best physical game in the world, it still doesn't guarantee you success. You need a solid mental game to complement the physical or, in some cases, even make up for a physical deficiency.
The best bowlers combine ridiculously strong mental games with absurdly skilled physical abilities when competing, so you can imagine the levels of focus and execution on display at the professional levels.
There are only certain things you can control in bowling. You have control over your physical ability, what you're doing on the approach and your decision-making process. However, there are plenty of things you can't control - your opponent's game, noise distractions, how the ball will hit the pins and how a pin will deflect off another.
One of the best ways to maintain a strong mental game is to only manage what's within your control. Let everything you can't control go. Yes, try to fix the mental error you made on a previous shot, but no, don't let the fact that a messenger left the 10-pin standing get in your way of the next shot.
When you focus on what you can control, it's much easier to manage anything that becomes stressful.
A good way to manage stress is through self-talk. This is the little voice in your head that tells you how to get back to a calm state and be successful at repeating shots. Self-talk reminds you not to be stressed about things you can't control and to get back into the mindset to stay focused on the lanes.
Remind yourself you made a good shot or choice in regard to an adjustment you may have made. When we use self-talk during positive moments, it helps maintain that momentum instead of focusing on the negatives.
This is where your pre-shot routine takes place. You're standing near the ball return and getting ready to execute your shot.
In the think circle, make all your mental processing as simple as possible. You don't want to do too much here. The pre-shot routine is the point you move out of the mental game and into the physical game, so by compartmentalizing your thoughts and keeping your routine simple, you're better able to seamlessly move into executing a shot.
All these elements together make up a large portion of the mental game. Throughout the course of a tournament or a league night, the time you spend actually rolling the ball is far shorter than the time you're thinking about the game. That fact alone shows how important the mental game is. The stronger you can make your mental game, the more success (and probably more fun) you're going to have.