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Today is  Monday, February 08, 2016

The Mental Game.

Probably one of the most misunderstood and ignored areas of bowling is the mental game. Just what is the Mental Game? To excel in ANY sport, you must not only possess the physical ability to accomplish the task, but also have to possess the right frame of mind. This not only includes when you are excelling, but more importantly, when you AREN'T excelling. The ability to react, adjust and overcome your problems applies not only to bowling but to life as well.

Pamela Fitts (L621035@LMSC5.IS.LMSC.LOCKHEED.COM) best describes it:

There are five basic components that make up a Successful Mental Game:

  • Stress Management/Proper Breathing

  • Self Talk

  • Self Imagery

  • Concentration

  • Self Confidence

Life can be stressful. Competition in itself brings with it it's own acute stress. These 2 factors often translate into poor performance during competition. The use of relation tapes can help alleviate the stress caused by outside influences. To reduce pressure during actual competition, try deep breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can be effectively utilized to eliminate nervousness & promote successful performance. Breathe deeply, hold it in for a few moments, then slowly exhale. this should be performed a few times while waiting to bowl.


Self Talk Each of us has that little voice in the back of our mind that either offers encouragement or negative thoughts. Generating a positive mental attitude takes conscious thought and effort, & a good way to do this is to talk positively to yourself. Often negative talk is demonstrated by the way a bowler reacts. If a bowler has hands clenched, teeth together in a tight grimace, eyes downcast, it is reasonable to assume negative thoughts are going through the bowler's mind. It is said that a bowler's worst critic is himself! If this is the case, the individual should view self criticism as positive suggestions toward improvement & growth, not self recrimination.

Self Imagery A bowler should be thinking of a clear mental picture of the path the bowling ball will take down the lane. This is the 1st stage. After the Line in the Mind is visualized, (s)he should develop a clear mental picture of actually executing the necessary motions to realize the end goal of making a strike or converting a spare.

Self Imagery Is Basically Visualizing The Act Instead Of The Result. You should imagine yourself performing the actions & achieving the proper angle necessary to make the strike, instead of imagining the ten pins falling down at the pin triangle.


Concentration During actual competition, you should have your mind focused on the game itself. You do not need to be unsociable with your friends during competition. After all, one of the greatest motivations to bowl is the resulting fellowship with other bowlers. Some bowlers need to "get into themselves" in order to compete successfully; any distractions will inhibit their performance. Others only realize their optimum potential when they are relaxing & having fun with their friends at the same time. Keep you mind focused, but you do not have to block out the world, if that is not what you need to bowl your best competition game.

Self Confidence Confidence = Competence. If bowlers possess the knowledge, & have practiced & trained their bodies to translate this knowledge into proper actions, they will possess confidence in their abilities. Yet self confidence is also a direct result of the other 4 facets of a successful mental game we just covered. If you:

  • Effectively Manage Stress Before & During Practice;

  • Reinforce a Positive Mental Attitude by Positive Inner Thoughts;

  • Develop Positive Mental Thought Pictures Geared Toward Success;

  • Concentrate on the Game at Hand Without Being Distracted; you will be confident in your abilities.

(Special competition section) Determining Optimum Arousal Levels Arousal levels refer to the emotional states a person may be in at the moment of competition. Many people mistakenly think that the higher the arousal level, the better they will perform. This is Not thecase. A person can become over aroused, a state often referred to as being "psyched-out" or over motivated. An OVER AROUSED person experiences poor performance because:

  • The body tightens due to overall muscle tension.

  • The perceptual field narrows.

  • (S)He worries about worrying.

If a person is UNDER AROUSED, performances will also be poor because:

  • Adrenaline levels are too low to activate the muscle potential and optimum reaction time.

  • The brain functions sluggishly.

  • Concentration is decreased.

  • The desire to excel is diminished.

How can you find your Optimum Arousal State? When you have played a successful game, take the time to review how you felt during competition, & how you feel, now that it's over. This is the state you should strive for. Not too hot, & not too cold; psyched-up, but not psyched-out.

Good bowling, friends! Ms.Fitts



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