Article Contents

  • 1. The learning process
    • 1.1. Having a clear picture
    • 1.2. Personal differences
    • 1.3. Mental differences
  • 2. Drill-based practice versus skill-based practice
    • 2.1. A skill-based example
    • 2.2. Keeping your focus
  • 3. Quality versus quantity
    • 3.1. Let’s do some math
    • 3.2. High quality and high quantity
  • 4. Closing thoughts

It’s time to discuss practice. More specifically, I’d like to address the best ways to practice so that bowlers can learn all the things they need to learn to improve. As we’ll see, the best way to practice for any bowler is often personal, depending on that bowler’s attributes. However, we can apply some general knowledge about how we learn to help identify some weaknesses in standard bowling training and to explore what we can do to improve the learning process out on the lanes.

We’ll discuss the learning process itself, the argument for skill-based practice over drills, and why the “quality over quantity” argument often falls short.

The learning process

First, it’s important to mention that without motivation, learning cannot happen. It’s the ignition to learn, because any kind of learning requires effort. This is why the coach’s job is not just to instruct, but also to help motivate the athlete. The overall learning process looks like this:

  1. Motivation
  2. Perception
  3. Practice
  4. Learning
  5. Automatization

Many bowlers might think that practice and learning happen at the same time, but there is an important difference. The learning must happen in the brain to proceed to automatization. For example, you can practice without focus, and you won’t learn anything. So the right kind of practice is needed, with the mind engaged, focusing and reflecting on what is happening. The right kind of practice is challenging.

The learning portion itself can be divided into three different phases:

  1. Cognitive phase: a lot of focus is required; athletes are starting to understand the skill.
  2. Associative phase: athletes become more fluid and start to recognize errors on their own.
  3. Autonomic phase: skill acquisition is almost automatic, with very few errors.

Having a clear picture

People must have a very clear picture of what they are supposed to be doing. This is the perception stage ...

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Juha Maja

About Juha Maja

Juha Maja is a professional bowling coach with over 20 years of experience. He has a professional coaching degree from the Kuortane Olympic Training Center, where he was also the former Director and Head Coach of their Bowling Training Center. In addition to being the former national team coach for Finland, Romania, and the Czech Republic, Juha is the author and Head Instructor of the Finnish Bowling Federation and European Tenpin Bowling Federation (ETBF) Level 1-2-3 coaching programs.