The mental game is one of the three key areas of a bowler’s game, along with tactics and technique. Some would argue that the mental game is the most important, since it is what holds the other two together in times of stress. Unfortunately, though, for many bowlers the mental game is the area that gets the least attention because it is the hardest to “practice.”
How do you improve your mental game? There are plenty of books on the subject telling stories of successful athletes, giving explanations of how the mind works, and describing tools to use. Many bowlers think that understanding these tools is enough. But, in reality, you need to practice mental tools as much as you practice your spares or your approach if you truly want to achieve success in this sport.
This article will focus on three essential areas of the mental game, along with ideas on how to train and improve your skill at using the related tools.
(Editor’s note: This article is Part 5 of Tyrel’s Seven Common Problems That Can Hurt Your Bowling Scores series. To read the other articles in this series, please click the following links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)
Confidence and belief
“To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.”
This quote from Muhammad Ali perfectly sums up the importance of believing in yourself. To be sure, every champion believes that they belong in the winner’s circle, long before they get there. That said, confidence and belief in this context are not the same thing, so the first step is understanding the difference, and the best way is to use a metaphor.
Think of an iceberg. Common knowledge is that 80% of an iceberg is below the water, and we only see the 20% that is above it. The section of iceberg that is above the water is your confidence. The section below the water is your belief. Your confidence is the part that faces the sunny days as well as the storms. It’s the part that takes a beating and sometimes it gets chipped away. The belief is what supports the ...
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