Do do that voodoo that you do so well...
As a beginning bowler, one of the first things you'll notice is how the experienced players seem to perform a ritual of sorts before they approach the lane to bowl. Bowling alleys are incredibly noisy places, so taking a moment to turn inward and gain your focus will help set you up for higher scores. Whether you wipe down your ball, take a few deep breaths or rub your lucky rabbit's foot and then spin three times clockwise, a pre-bowling ritual will calm you down, help you focus and give you better control over the ball.
Now that you're focused...
Once you're relaxed and centered, you can mentally prepare to bowl. Don't hit pins by sheer luck. Form a checklist in your mind, considering what you need to accomplish with this throw. A little preparation will get BIG results.
- Is this the first throw this frame or do you need to pick up a spare?
- What's the best strategy to knock down that combination?
- Where is the best place to stand? Get there.
- Where do you need to aim? Visualize the path the ball must take to knock the pins down.
- Check your stance. Is your lead foot facing straight ahead? Are your shoulders square to the foul line?
- Take a few deep, relaxing breaths and visualize your throw one more time.
- Line up your shot.
By performing your pre-bowling ritual before each an every throw, you'll gain technical expertise and hone your technique. Whatever you choose to do as your routine, however many or few items you have on your mental checklist, taking a minute to prepare yourself will help you clear more frames and perform at a higher level. As your pre-bowling ritual becomes a habit, your focus will automatically shift to your game.
Bowling alleys can be busy places, filled with flashing lights, loud music, and even louder people. To get the most out of every shot, you need to find a way to tap into the quiet inside and block all the noise and distraction. Some bowlers accomplish this through deep breathing, while others have a mantra of sorts that they repeat to themselves over and over.
Trial and error will help you find what works best for you. It may feel a little strange at first to go through these steps before bowling every round, but when you get the hang of it, it will all become second nature.
But the kids next to me are so OBNOXIOUS!
Sometimes, a normally loud bowling alley gets downright obnoxious. It's during these particularly trying days that your ritual will serve you the best. Conquer the mental aspects of your game and the technical aspects will naturally follow. Even when there's a birthday party of six-year-olds bowling next to you!
Be confident! Realize that occasionally, you'll have a bad day, and bring yourself back to your routine. Use your ritual to pull your focus back to where it should be and follow your mental checklist...and watch those pins fall!