Managing Your Expectations

The mental pitfalls of expecting too much

Managing Your Expectations

As most leagues enter the homestretch of their seasons, many bowlers have established some expectations for how the season will end. With this in mind, let us consider the role expectation plays and how it affects our bowling.

The Oxford Dictionary defines expectation as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” Does having such beliefs help or hurt our bowling? Where should expectations end and reality begin? Is there a happy middle ground between unrealistic expectations and ones that set the bar too low?

For us to answer these questions, we first need to accept that there are avoidable traps within our sport. Bowling is one of the few sports where amateurs and professionals can compete in environments with almost no obvious discernable differences. Additionally, anyone can learn how to roll a ball from the foul line to the pins without guttering, so on its surface, bowling might appear to be an easy sport—and this is possibly why some folks argue that bowling is only a game!

In this article, let’s examine the various aspects of our sport and identify both unrealistic/trap expectations and realistic/beneficial ones. Finally, I will provide you with a simple tool to help identify your personal bowling expectations.


Part of what makes bowling unique is that we can compete with the same equipment, on the same lanes, wearing even the same shirts and shoes, as our favorite pros. However, this also comes with inherent dangers. If I see my favorite bowler win a PBA or PWBA event using a particular ball, it would be understandable for me to run down to my pro shop, purchase the same ball, eagerly shoe up and get onto the lanes, and wait for the magic to happen. After all, I just saw the pro kill it with this ball, right?!

But wait a moment: where did all these corner pins and splits come from? Why didn’t my ball—the same ball the pro just used—strike for me? Well, ball manufacturers are certainly entitled to promote their products, but as bowlers, we need to understand that, as amazing as modern balls can be, they simply do not roll themselves. Balls are only as ...

Joe Hoenig

About Joe Hoenig

Joe Hoenig is a USBC Silver coach and a graduate of the Dick Ritger Bowling Camps. A Licensed Master Social Worker by profession, Joe works full-time as a Clinical Trainer and Educator for a health insurance plan and takes his love of teaching and bowling onto the lanes, coaching both youth and adult students of all ages and skill levels. Additionally, Joe is a volunteer coach for the Suffolk County, NY Bowlympics youth travel league, which calls South Levittown Lanes its home.