Most of our articles here on Beginner Bowling Tips focus on the physical side of the game, such as proper technique and delivery. The best thing you can do to improve is work hard on these fundamentals, but there is also a second aspect of bowling that is more difficult to nail down. I’m talking about the mental game, and this post is an explanation of what it is and how to master it.
Of course, mastering the mental side of bowling isn’t something that can be quickly explained in a blog post. This article is only meant to be a starting point, and you can learn a lot more from our comprehensive system Get in the Bowling Zone.
But at its essence, the mental game is a part of bowling that goes hand in hand with the physical game. Whereas the physical game relates to your competition against other bowlers, the mental game is you against yourself.
In order to be a complete and successful bowler, you absolutely need to have both. It’s not enough to have amazing technique if you always tense up when the pressure is on or if you obsess too much over your scores or other uncontrollable factors.
Despite what many bowlers say, the mental game can often be more important than the physical game in determining your bowling outcomes. Just think about it. The last time you threw a gutterball or choked on a huge frame, was it purely due to a mechanical breakdown? Or were your emotions and reactions to pressure negatively affecting your thinking, which led to the poor shot?
Emotions are a major component of the mental game. You’ll need to learn is how to control your temper, manage your intensity level in varying situations, stay positive during tough times, and above all, relax when you need to deliver a big shot. By learning how to control your mind, your focus will supplement your physical skills and your potential will be higher than ever before.
In addition to the emotional component, another crucial side of the mental game is making good bowling decisions. This includes questions like what angle you should take to the head pin, or what strategy should you use on a spare ball. These decisions are distinct from the emotional game because they are conscious choices, but they can be greatly affected by your state of mind. By keeping your cool and staying focused, you will make better decisions which will also lead to your success.
Different bowlers have a wide variety of different mechanisms for controlling their emotions and using their thoughts to their advantage. Some just take a deep breath and cut out all external thoughts like the stage of the game or your opponent. Others take a more structured approach and engage in a variety of subconscious exercises to develop their mental toughness. Stay tuned for more posts here on the mental game of bowling, and let us know in the comments if you have any tactics that work particularly well.
For much more about how to master the mental game and take your game to the next level, have a look at our bowling book all about the mental game.