By Staff Writer Tim Gagne
Have you ever had one of those days where you can’t seem to focus? Where each shot is just a frustrating addition to a bad day?
Have you ever just gotten so angry that you kick or slap the ball return on the way back from the line?
Let’s have a moment of silence for the ball returns we have lost to angry bowlers.
Blaming Yourself First
If you play sports besides bowling, at some point, you likely have reached a point where you get very frustrated with the game. When you reach that breaking point to vent your anger, how do you express it?
In bowling, you usually see bowlers kick, punch, slap, pound, and beat the machines and complain about how bad the lanes, center, or pins are that night or in general. Very little blame is placed on ourselves as bowlers for missing a shot. In other sports, such as football, the players tend to place the blame on themselves from the press conferences and such that I’ve seen. We need to emulate that as bowlers. I think 9 times out of 10 (or even as far as 999 times out of 1000), I’m the one missing the shot and not anything else.
I know I’m plenty guilty of trying to find any excuse to avoid blaming myself when it comes to a bad shot. Just recently, I had my own coach start telling me to stop thinking so much and just bowl. If I miss a shot, I have to shake it off and find that “feel” I had on a good shot and get back to throwing a good ball. You can control nearly every outcome of every shot. Don’t be afraid to blame yourself and look to get a better shot on the next one.
Success in Relaxation
Going back to what my coach told me about not thinking; when it comes to bowling on a house shot, clear your mind and just bowl. If you relax yourself when you step up to the approach, you will be able to feel every part of your delivery and throw a clean shot. By all means, try to work out your shot before you get up there. Think over your line and changes you need to make, but when you pick up that ball, clearing your mind and making your best shot is important.
One thing I’ve heard repeatedly from many pros and people I look up to is to visualize your perfect shot and then execute it. In those moments just before you set up for your shot, imagine watching yourself go through your approach and deliver a great shot through your target, to your breakpoint, and ending with a flush strike. I’ve done this many times myself and I find it really brings a confidence boost to my game. I also do things such as telling myself I will throw a good ball and telling myself “I.C.E.”, which I picked up from Team USA. It stands for “I carry everything”.
When it comes to really important shots, such as the last frame for a 300, or a strike for 800, or that one shot to win a game or make a cut, it is very important to remember to keep your routine and be aware of yourself. Personally, when I am up for that important shot, I get weak with my hand and slow down a bit from my usual. Knowing this about myself, I can compensate when I get to that situation and counteract these nervous habits. If you have one of these habits, remember those before you step up. Make the appropriate fix to avoid it costing you. If you think you don’t have one of these habits, you should put yourself under pressure and have someone watch you to help identify them. They do exist for everyone in some fashion.
Remember to keep a positive mindset and stay humble. I surprise even myself with how well I can perform when I keep a good attitude and stay relaxed. Sometimes we just need a moment to go for a walk and clear our heads. Keep your head in the game and always look to the next shot; don’t let the bad shots ruin your mood and potentially your game.