Article Contents

  • 1. The devil you know
  • 2. The devil you just met
  • 3. Preparing your dragonflies to fly in formation
    • 3.1. 1) Remember to warm up
    • 3.2. 2) Plan on any number of situations which get the dragonflies going
    • 3.3. 3) Visualize a capable and competent response to the tension situation
    • 3.4. 4) Relax your mouth!
    • 3.5. 5) Reinterpret the meaning of your body lighting up
    • 3.6. 6) Expect Success
  • 4. Butterflies into dragonflies

It is tournament season once again in America. The USBC Championships are running squad after squad non-stop. Seeing players come down the runway, watching as the national anthem is played, sprinting through the brief warm ups….you don’t have to be a mental game expert to observe the nervousness that is palpable amongst many competitors.

Of course, why wouldn’t there be tension? Players travel hundreds and thousands of miles, and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars, for the opportunity to bowl nine games. For two of those three game sets, others’ tournament results are partially dependent on you as a bowler. There is an old expression that it’s not whether or not you have the butterflies in your gut as you compete, it is whether or not you can get them to fly in formation.

If you have trained, practiced, been coached, and invested in your bowling, then you have much more at stake than the average bear. So, for you, it is not butterflies when you get nervous, but rather the samurai version of nerves that serious competitors can call dragonflies. It is not whether or not you get tense and excited for big competitions. It is whether you can will yourself to deliver great shots no matter what your stomach might be doing. This month we are going to get your dragonflies to fly in the direction of your best shots.

The devil you know

The dragonflies typically show up in two scenarios. The first one you may be well familiar with. If you are someone who is prone to first or last frame nervousness, or if you know that you are a choker, then you know what is coming. As you warm up, you already know that your tension is building. You don’t feel that you have time enough to properly warm up. In a tournament like the USBC Championships, you are limited to a couple of shots on each lane. Pressure is the predominant feeling.

Often there are thoughts of desperation if one does not ...

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Dean Hinitz

About Dean Hinitz

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