With most other sports–football, baseball, soccer–people know that practice is a huge part of getting better. Repetitions of the most common movements help with execution, muscle memory and your overall confidence level. You wouldn’t ever think you could become successful without practicing one or more times a week for a long period of time.
But for some reason, the same thinking doesn’t seem to apply to bowling. Even if we tell ourselves we are practicing in order to get better, it’s seldom true. In reality, we’re always just hoping for the highest possible score, regardless of how we get it.
If we get lucky and strike by accidentally hitting the wrong side of the pocket, for example we become excited instead of upset, because it helps our overall score. We almost never try new things like different tracks to the pocket or different techniques because it’s too much of a risk.
This obsession with bowling score has a dangerous effect on many bowlers, as it severely limits their growth as a player. If you approach some bowling games as practice instead of a “real” game for score, you’ll find it much easier to make adjustments and try out new things that might make a big difference in your game. Here are a few ideas for what you can do.
1. Pay No Attention to the Score
Even though it might be impossible to shut off score keeping at the alley, you can still make a conscious effort to tune out the numbers. Pay absolutely no attention to your score and instead treat every frame as an individual event.
2. Have a Concrete Goal to Accomplish During Your Practice
To be effective, you should focus on a particular aspect of your shot that you want to improve, or a change that you want to make. It could be major, such as attempting to bowl a hook shot, or something simpler, like taking care to release the ball smoothly instead of lofting it.
Stick to just one or two of these things for a single practice session; any more will be too much to keep up with in a serious manner.
3. Separate Yourself from the Results and Stay Positive
When practicing, you should strive to identify positive changes that will pay off in the long run, even when they aren’t working 100% right now.
For example, if you are focusing on throwing a hook ball, you might not be able to hit the pocket cleanly quite yet, but your technique will likely be improving significantly. Don’t get discouraged and remember that once you hone your skills just a bit more, your bowling game will be significantly improved and you’ll get more strikes consistently. It can be difficult to separate your actions from the immediate results, but if you can stay positive, you’ll be much better off.
4. Shoot Your First Ball As Though It Were a Spare Shot
One more specific thing you can do to practice is work on your spares with your first shot of a frame. Instead of bowling your strike shot, aim for one specific pin, such as the 7 pin or 10 pin.
Although it would be great if you could set up any pin arrangement at any time, but that’s just not possible at a normal bowling alley. By practicing the most common spares, you’ll be more prepared when they come up next time you’re bowling for score.