Article Contents

  • 1. Building a map
  • 2. How do you feel before you start?
    • 2.1. Pre-competition routine
    • 2.2. Approaching the arena
    • 2.3. Becoming a superhero
  • 3. How do we deal with hurdles throughout the block?
    • 3.1. Training to respond
  • 4. How much can you take?
    • 4.1. Intrinsic versus extrinsic elements
  • 5. Reboot the system
  • 6. Finding support
  • 7. Conclusion

Psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt has a wonderful story to explain the two driving forces in our lives. Think of your brain as a rider, sitting atop an elephant. The rider is your rational mind, making decisions about what to do and where to go. However, if the elephant doesn’t want to go where the rider wants to go, there’s not much the rider can do. He can try to lead, try to persuade, try to drag, but the elephant is going to do what it wants to do. In this story, the elephant is your emotional system.

We can talk a lot about the mental game in many ways, but in essence, the mental game is about trying to make sure the elephant (your emotions) and the rider (your rational mind) are always working together toward the same goal.

To bring this to bowling, let’s say that you are bowling on a short oil pattern and you need to play an outside line, close to the gutter. Your rational mind knows what to do. It selects the correct ball, the right ball path, and stands in the right place. But deep down, your emotional side is afraid of that gutter. You don’t feel safe that close to a big old zero on your first ball. So you drift away in your approach, or you pull the ball, or you do any number of things that the elephant inside you will do.

So the question is, how do we train the mental game so your emotions and decision-making work together?

Building a map

Working with Dr. Dean Hinitz and the Peruvian national team, we’ve developed emotional maps to help our bowlers with this journey. So often in bowling, bowlers work on the physical game or the lane play side ...

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Ernesto Avila

About Ernesto Avila

Ernesto Avila is a professional bowling coach who is currently the Head Coach of the Peru national team. He is a Panam Bowling Master Coach, a USBC Silver Coach, and an ETBF Level 3 Coach.