Article Contents

  • 1. The shot cycle
  • 2. Psychological post-shot routine
  • 3. Did I execute the shot well?
  • 4. Did I hit my target?
  • 5. Did the ball hit the pocket?

Sport psychology researchers speculate that, at the elite level, psychological skills are important to athletic success. When athletic ability, training, and shot execution remain constant among athletes, psychological skills play a major factor in determining outcome. Bowling is no exception. As a competitive bowler, a USBC certified coach, and a sport psychology expert, I believe bowling psychology is essential to become a bowling champion.

One critical mental skill that is not often written about in bowling psychology is effective decision-making, especially related to bowling adjustments. Decision-making is important for elite bowlers because the need for many decisions bombards the athlete, from correct technique to the five key bowling adjustments (angle, equipment, speed, release, and loft).

When making decisions in competition, the atmosphere and pressure may hinder the mental capability of the athlete. Thus, to increase concentration and perhaps scoring potential, psychological pre-shot and post-shot routines are beneficial to improving decision-making.

The shot cycle

In his book, Focused for Bowling, Dr. Dean Hinitz discusses a four-phase shot cycle that bowlers can use on each delivery. The four phases are 1) planning and intention, 2) execution and commitment, 3) reaction and emotion, and 4) clearing and recovery.

The planning and intention phase is when the method of playing the lanes and shot execution are planned. The execution and commitment phase is characterized by a committed shot attempt, executed without conscious thought about movement. In the reaction and emotion phase, the athlete emotionally acknowledges the good or bad shot, reacts to it, and lets it go before the next shot. Finally, the clearing and recovery phase involves freeing the mind of any “emotional baggage” from the previous shot and allows the shot cycle to begin again. Please refer Dr. Dean’s book, Focused for Bowling, for more detailed information.

Dr. Dean advocates that to become more mentally tough and achieve more success, the four-phase shot cycle should be repeated on each delivery. Becoming preoccupied ...

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Chris Mesagno

About Chris Mesagno

Dr. Chris Mesagno is a senior lecturer in Exercise and Sport Psychology at Federation University Australia and received his Ph.D. from Victoria University (Australia), specializing in Sport Psychology and Motor Learning. Dr. Chris is a competitive bowler of 30 years, he was a member and assistant coach of the University of Florida bowling team from 1998-2001, and he is both a Tenpin Bowling Australia Level 1 Certified Coach and a USBC Bronze Level Coach.