by Dustin Zehner
Practice is one of the most important things any bowler can do to become better. However, many bowlers struggle with HOW to practice. With Junior Gold right around the corner, we wanted to share some tips to help you maximize practice leading up to the event; as well as handling the practice sessions once you get there. Doing drills, having a plan for your practice, and having disciplined practices can go a long way for any bowler going to Junior Gold. Plus, we’ve created a Junior Gold Surface Kit to help you tackle surface adjustments. If you use code JRGOLDPICKUP you can save $5 and pick it up at our booth at the Junior Gold Expo.
Practice Before You Go
All high level bowlers will do some drills in the beginning of their practice. These drills can range from a kneeling drill to a three step drill. The drills can work a number of different components of your game including release versatility, timing, allowing the ball to fall into the swing, and much more. It is important to start to each practice session with 15 minutes of drills to get each practice started right! Below are a selection of drills that can be done at all of your practices leading up to Junior Gold!
All of these drills should not be at 100% of what your normal ball speed is. These drills have a wide variety of effort that should be used. You can find the ball speed percentages you should use as well as examples of the drill below:
- 30% of your ball speed
- Kneeling Drill
- No Step - https://media.giphy.com/media/9Vi7Q59WxzW6BOmcqa/giphy.mp4
- 60% of your ball speed
- 80% of your ball speed
- Three Step - https://media.giphy.com/media/fLyqiaoDA9iOulSMsU/giphy.mp4
- Getting in front of the ball return -
Start each practice off with these drills and focus on different parts of your game and over time you will begin to see the results!
Practice with a Purpose
As with any other sport, it’s important to have a purpose for your practice session. Just like every day isn’t leg day at the gym, every day shouldn’t be targeting day on the lanes. For example, one day you should work on release versatility and the next day you should work on targeting. Practice is not about high scores; but instead, it is about focusing on different parts of your game which need improvement. Having a plan for your practice will make practice more rewarding and enjoyable! You will find below an example schedule for practicing, these items can be moved around as necessary and items can be added to suit what you may be working on a specific day.
Sample Practice Schedule
- 15 minutes of drills
- 25 minutes of single pin spares
- 20 minutes of targeting
- 15 minutes of competition with yourself
- Make eight out of nine 7 and 10 pins, hit first, second, and third arrows 4 times in a row each, etc.
The most important thing to remember when practicing is make it specific to you! Think about the items you want to work on and apply it to your practice.
Finally, it is very easy to get distracted while practicing, especially if you go with friends. Focus your mind on having a disciplined practice every single time you go. If you get distracted, ask yourself, “is this how I would want to act in a competitive setting?” or “would it benefit me to be distracted while I’m bowling Junior Gold?” The answer to these questions is NO! Think about the level of focus you would like to have during competition and apply that level of focus to your practice. Keep this quote in your head when practicing, “practice how you play.” When you are focusing at a high level, you can also work on components of your mental game. Analyzing things that went wrong or went well is very important in a competitive setting.
Practice at Junior Gold
All of these items are great for your practice leading up to Junior Gold, but what about the practice sessions at Junior Gold? Each practice session should be used as a learning experience. There are few key goals for these sessions:
- Normalize yourself with the bowling center
- Understand the lane pattern you are bowling on - this could be slightly different than the actual pattern
- Finalizing your arsenal - to include surface adjustments
- Work on your focus
- Take notes - or have someone taking them for you
Keep to a Schedule
Each practice session is 40 minutes long. By the end of each session, you should have a plan for which ball and surface you will start with and which ball and surface you will move to once the pattern breaks down. Since you can’t adjust the surface during competition, you need to utilize your practice time to put your arsenal in order.
- First 10-15 minutes
- This is all the time you have before the pattern breaks down
- Experiment with different balls and surfaces to decide which ball will work best on the fresh oil
- Next 10-15 minutes
- The pattern is breaking down
- Experiment with different balls and surfaces to decide which ball will work best on the transition/break down
- Remaining Practice
- The pattern is broken down
- Work on spare shooting - making spares during competition will be the difference between advancing and going home.
Be sure to take notes of not only what you’re seeing; but also, what your fellow bowlers are doing. These notes will give you a good idea of where to start during competition and hopefully lead you to success! If you want to maximize your time, have a parent or coach stand behind you and take notes for you.
Practice Your Focus
Just like at home, you have to practice your focus. Remember the saying I mentioned before: “Practice how you play.” These practice sessions are your only shot to familiarize yourself with the center, the approach, the lanes, the ambiance. For many of you, these practice sessions are going to be the first time since qualifying that you’ve been in a super crowded bowling center. This is the perfect time to prove to yourself that you can focus and show mental strength.
Good practice habits both at home and at Junior Gold will help you improve your game and your enjoyment of the event. Getting your arsenal in order is a key component to a successful tournament. Sanding pads and bowling ball polish will be your best friends in getting your arsenal in order. We have created a Junior Gold Kit especially for you. PLUS if you use discount code JRGOLDPICKUP, you’ll get $5 off by picking it up at our booth at the Junior Gold Expo.