Lesson 5 - The Mental Game
The Game Within the Game
The mental game becomes more important as bowling becomes more important to you and your teammates. Several strategies will be discussed that will help you bowl your best when you really need to.
Many people believe that bowling is mostly a physical game where improvement comes with bowling more games. In all sports, there are always two games being played. The physical game against your opponent and the other game against yourself. As your physical game gets better, the mental game becomes more volatile and unstable due to many factors. Turning your mind off or redirecting it so you allow yourself to execute to the best of your ability is essential to winning the mental game.
Everyone is different in how they perceive things around them and how they react to it. Fear and anxiety can tighten your muscles and change your physical performance. Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid to succeed? Maybe you are uncomfortable with people watching you. Whatever it is, you must identify it and do something about it.
Developing a routine and staying positive are beginner level concepts. As your ability improves, it is important to refine these skills. The mental part of your routine needs to end before you begin your approach. Any physical adjustments or mental preparations should be complete before letting your body take over to execute the shot. The technique of "thought stopping" can be helpful to control those negative thoughts that creep into your head.
The moment you identify a negative thought, say "Stop It" and back off to replace that thought with something positive. Affirmations are positive thoughts that encourage you to perform your best.
What follows is a partial list of personal affirmations used by Team USA:
- I've practiced enough and I am ready for this competition.
- I always have a relaxed, natural arm swing.
- I always think positive thoughts.
- I always stay calm and make appropriate adjustments.
- I am a winner.
- I am alert, aggressive, confident and in control.
- I am working on my release and it's getting better and better.
You can't control luck and you can't control your opponent. You can control your own mind and how you react to what's happening around you.