Do you love bowling? Are you pro or do you bowl in a league or two a few nights a week? Do you love the feeling of seeing the ball in the one-three pocket? Can you feel a strike ball the second it leaves your hand? Do you know what it is like to bowl in the zone and get on a roll? Do you hate seeing a high ball knowing that you will face a split? Don't you hate it when you miss a seven pin or a ten pin?
Once you master the mechanical and physical techniques that are involved in bowling, this sport becomes quite mental. That is, once you know how to roll the ball, hit your marks, keep your rhythm and your balance the game becomes quite psychological.
Over the years, I have counseled many bowlers. Some have been recreational bowlers and others have been professionals. I have used hypnosis, guided imagery, relaxation training, confidence building techniques, focusing techniques and motivational strategies to help them achieve their long term goals and their short term goals.
Some want raise their average. Some want to earn their living on the lanes. Some bowlers want to be stars in their weekly leagues. Others want to avoid choking when the pressure is on.
In counseling these bowlers, I tend to learn a great deal about their personalities, their dreams and their approach to the game. Believe it or not, many of them have very different things running through their mind when they step up to the lane and get their fingers into their ball.
Some bowlers are target oriented. Others are more technique oriented. Some enjoy the pressure and the crowds. Others like to feel alone, centered and focused on the lanes. They like feeling that they are in their own cocoon of concentration. The mental training I do with them is about getting them into the ideal state of mind to perform to their fullest potential.
One of the very important decisions I help my clients make is whether or not they want to watch their opponents bowl. They also need to decide if they want to watch the score or not. Some players do better attending to the competition and some do better bowling in a physical and psychological vacuum.
The bowler and I frequently sort this decision out via counseling and trial and error. We tend to go with whatever works, whatever feels most comfortable and whatever produces the highest scores and the most wins.
So, no matter what level you bowl at, you need to decide how aware you want to be of external cues.
Jay P. Granat, Ph. D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of http://www.stayinthezone.com He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers.