Staying Calm, Relaxed And Focused Under Pressure While Bowling
The USBC Open Championship is biggest participatory sporting event in the county. But I wouldn’t recommend thinking of it like that if you want to be successful. Often times I see my youth students overwhelmed before they even start to travel to big tournaments like city, states, or Junior Gold. In my opinion, if you do that, you are already at a disadvantage before you even throw a bowling ball. When you go in to a high level tournament, I recommend treating it as if you are just going to the bowling alley to do a practice session or bowling league. Not because it is just a practice session; but because mentally, you do not want to overwhelm yourself.
Calm And Consistent Should Be Your Focus While Bowling
Over 50,000 bowlers from across the country will meet in Vegas for a 2 day competition that spans many months on sport conditions, against multiple bowlers they likely don’t know. Tournaments like Junior Gold are a week long held across centers and on a variety of conditions. The only constants in situations like that are your physical ability and mental capacity to combat those changes. I’m going to assume that if you’ve made it to this point, you’ve been practicing and working on your physical game. Keeping your mental game calm and consistent should be your focus everyday that you go in to compete.
I was reminded of the importance of this when I bowled in the Proprietors Cup last year. It’s a premier event held annually in Ohio, attracting over 300 of the best bowlers in the world to compete for almost $30k on a modified house shot. I had never bowled in this center or tournament before. I went in with an open mind but I struggled. I didn’t meet my expectations. I didn’t bowl well because I wasn’t mentally prepared for the event, not because I had the wrong ball, or played the wrong part of the lane, or any of the other reasons that could exist.
Staying In The Moment While Bowling And Under Pressure
So what happened? Scores were high and it put more pressure on me to strike. I kept thinking about the scoring pace but I was focused on the wrong area. I can’t control that. I have to just adapt to it and try to my hardest to keep up. If the scoring pace is 200 and I’m averaging 170, I’m not going to make it. That weekend, I averaged 210 when the cut was 230. The only way to keep up is by focusing on the things that you can control and do the job you’re supposed to do in order to be successful. If I got to redo the Proprietors Cup, I would pay attention to my surroundings more and think about the things that I’m accountable for like my physical ability to use my legs properly, push the ball away, and my ball motion (skid, hook, roll). I try to think about those areas in any tournament, like a PBA regional or national, but I lost that focus week and it cost me.
Being Mentally Prepared Is As Important As Being Physically Prepared.
The biggest difference that I see between a superstar bowler and an average one is how they respond in pressure situations. They treat them like everyday practice. The best bowlers throw it well throughout the week, not because they are always more physically gifted, but because they understand that the open championship or junior gold are going to be a very challenging tournaments every year. In order to prepare your own mental game, you should make a list of things to review in your pre-shot routine (see my previous pro tip on this). If you need help figuring out additional solutions, I recommend working with a coach. Make sure you go in mentally prepared but not overwhelmed. Relax and bowl well. Good luck! #protipfriday #mdmcoaching #juniorgold2019 #iambowlersmart