Article Contents

  • 1. What happened?
  • 2. Cattle prod
  • 3. The courage to move forward
  • 4. Carrying your team

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.”
—Norman Cousins

Imagine the following scenario. You are at the Intercollegiate Bowling Championships (IBC) in Columbus, Georgia. Your team simply needs to mark in the eighth, ninth, and tenth frames in order for you to win and advance. It is a Baker game, alternating teammates’ shots. You are up in the eighth frame. You miss a little on the first shot and leave the 4-7 spare.

At this point you have to decide whether to go straight at the spare with your plastic ball or to hook into it with your reactive ball. You might be a little amped up and not feeling so trusting of your armswing. The lanes are hooking and that is the way you have been playing your left side spares anyway. So, you pick up your reactive ball.

You make your best guess about where to stand. You are not positive because the oil is spotty. Consequently, instead of stroking the ball, you shovel it a bit and turn your thumb over. You know it off your hand. The ball appears to hit a pebble at 45 feet, turns left, and peels the 7 pin off, leaving the 4 pin with barely a tremble. Your team loses the game.

What happens in your head here? The responses are varied. Perhaps you have a mature evolved wisdom. You know that everyone makes mistakes. Pressure has affected even the great ones. You will get another chance to play. You shake it off and re-commit to bowl your best.

Or perhaps you have a painfully alternative reaction. You might have a hefty dose of guilt, embarrassment, or shame. Self-hate or self beat-up are common. Fears about being in a similar situation again can sprout. You kick yourself for not going straight at your spare with the plastic ball.

This is not really a fictitious scenario. Recently there has been a spate ...

Dean Hinitz

About Dean Hinitz

Dr. Dean Hinitz is a clinical sports psychologist in Reno, Nevada, a bowler, former competitive gymnast, and black belt in Japanese-style Karate.