It’s easier than you think!
How much do you think when you bowl? I know a lot of guys who think quite a bit while they’re bowling. Even some friends and teammates! (you know who you are 🙂 ) Well, it’s not a completely bad thing to be thinking while you bowl, but it really depends on what you think about and exactly when you do it.
One of the most critical things to understand is your arsenal. We talked about this before, but here’s a short recap. We know that it’s not too difficult to get to the “1-3” or “1-2” on a house shot with almost any ball on the market…or even ones that are long gone from the market! What will make a difference is carry. You need to have the right ball in your hand, using the correct line, to increase your carry percentage. It can easily make a difference between a 210 game and a 250 game. We’re talking about 2 or 3 shots that hit the pocket that may not have carried.
From this perspective, you need to know if the ball you have is working?
Is the line your playing conducive to carry tonight?
Is the speed your throwing correct for how the pattern is playing right now?
Is the ball in your hand fit for purpose, in other words is it the right ball for the line you’re using?
Is the line you are using giving you over/under? Perhaps you are too close to the oil/dry line on the house shot.
Do you need to get deep, slow it down and wheel it? Or do you need to go down and in?
Of course you should understand your game, your equipment, which areas of the lane you are comfortable playing, etc.
I think these are legitimate things to think about when you are analyzing what’s happening.
All successful athletes let things happen. When you swing a golf club, not a whole lot should be going through your head at that moment except focusing on making a good swing. Same thing in bowling. You are focused on making a good shot. You go through your pre-shot routine. You know what it takes to hit your mark to get the ball to the breakpoint you desire. Everything physically flows.
Once you step up on the approach, turn the brain off!
First, any of the above while you are actually delivering the ball is B.A.D.! Delivery needs to be a physical phenomenon with little thought. There’s a reason why we practice. It’s to develop muscle memory! Why is muscle memory important? It allows you to physically repeat something. It could be good or bad so that’s why we practice, video tape ourselves, get coaches, etc.
Simply put, thinking about your physical game is the easiest way to turn a competitive match into a practice session. If you think about the delivery itself during the delivery, not good. You should not be thinking about affecting your release because on the backswing, the hand turned away from the body, my timing was off, my shoulders weren’t square, my foot was doing this, on and on. This is a sure way to knock your scores down!
Some nights, your timing will be perfect, your release will be super clean, your backswing will be just the right height, your targeting will be spot on, it will feel effortless. Some nights not so much. One valuable lesson I learned is that while you are bowling competitively, you need to work through what you are physically going through at the moment.
Here’s a scenario:
I’m tugging every shot all of a sudden!
What do you do? Well, years ago, I would be frustrated about it as most would be, and try to figure out why I was tugging shot after shot. Soon enough, I realized that overthinking a physical aspect of the game on any given night is bound to kill the night. Now, I would simply make a line adjustment or a body angle adjustment to get in line. DO NOT stand in the same spot and continue to try to throw the ball and keep tugging each ball saying, “It’s me, I’m off today.” Well, everyone can see that! Before you know it, 6 or 7 frames have passed and you’ve got 60 pins on the board. If you’re practicing, than you can think about what is actually affecting the tug. Probably timing. At that point, you’re not worried about throwing 130!
You will simply not feel the same way physically every night. You need to keep this in mind. But in a competitive situation, you need to work around it, don’t try to fix it.
No matter what I do, the ball isn’t coming around and leaving washouts or light hits!
This has happened to me as I’m sure it has to many of you. You start thinking about your release. Is it coming off my hand cleanly? What am I doing wrong? I can’t tell you how easy it is to get into this scenario. You know the house, you know how it’s supposed to play. But, maybe there’s a bit more volume out there than usual. Maybe the pair you are on are stiffer. Maybe you are a little off in your release. Again, standing in the same place, blaming your physical game is a bad non-adjustment. Then by the time you’re finished with a 160 game and start striking in the next one, you say, “You see, I’m finally hitting the ball.” In reality, the lane has probably broken down, softening the shot for you. Even when your physical game is off, make the adjustment. In this scenario, playing more direct by a few boards may be the answer to finding the shot, adjusting for whatever issue is causing the ball to seem flat.
Shut the brain off when you deliver the ball! Be certain you know what you want to do before you get on the approach. When it comes to the physical game, work with what you got that night, don’t try to fix it.
This is the absolute easiest way to turn a competitive night into a frustrating loss for you and your team.