The Mental Game In Bowling – Improve Your Scores Now!

The mental game in bowling is often overlooked as we progress further and further into our bowling careers. But it is the most important part of our game, if we are committed to improving our game. If we have good equipment and good technique, the final piece of the puzzle becomes the mental game in bowling.

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The Ability to Focus on Every Shot Is Part Of The Mental Game

If you want to be the best you can possibly be, then you need to attain the level of focus that allows you to focus on every single shot. If you can practice the same intensity of focus on each practice shot, then the pressure shot becomes a little more natural to focus on.

Think about when you missed a spare or strike when you needed it. Were you fully focused on that shot? If you practice that same determination, again and again, it will automatically carry over into your game “when it counts”. Learn some good practice pointers, check out my article A good Bowling Arm Swing.

Image of A Mind With Lines Shooting Out Representing The Mental Game in Bowling

You also need to be able to keep your composure in the big final games as if it were the practice or warm-up shot you were focusing on. Quality shots are the key to a better game. If you are lazy at practice, and allow you focus to wander, then your focus will wander during the game as well.

Don’t get into the habit of rolling the ball and think you are working hard and practicing. Only practice as long as you can focus well, don’t practice bowling poorly.

When you become tired or bored, stop bowling. You will only get sloppy and you game will suffer. Read about some good tips and habits to develop in Advanced Bowling Tips and Techniques

 The Tenth Frame is Huge – Focus!

Always remember that the tenth frame is important. If you don’t strike, focus on that spare. The last few pins always add up. A five man team will pick up 45 pins with a nine count finish. Doing that every game for three games, you have a definite advantage on the team who leaves wood standing. Or your team could see early defeat by leaving pins standing.

However, in the event a game is well in hand, you could try your adjustment shot here for your next game. The first ball is a nine count, focus on the spare, and convert it.

If the lanes are changing, and you feel a ball change is in order, this is a good spot to try it. For you last and final shot, try that ball change here, but only when the game is in hand. Another good spot is when you make a mistake, and have an open, then try a ball change.

Shutting Out All Distraction Is Key To The Mental Game In Bowling

Did you ever noticed how those noisy kids or people yelling beside you in practice tend to get under you skin? If you let them bother you, then making shots becomes harder and harder. Losing your composure will lose games for you.

Ever have one those nights when the guy you are bowling against carries everything, and you have a corner pin every time? You feel like the unluckiest person on the planet! All the while you shake your head in disgust, and his pins keep falling.

It won’t help to get upset, sometimes luck plays a big part and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s all part of the game, and how we handle it is really what matters. Do not allow others to control your game! Focus on what you can do to improve your next shot. Getting upset will not make you bowl better.

How often has the fact you just opened two frames in a row, or you have no strikes in this game lead to frustration or anger? You may be bowling right beside the guy who is always expecting the worst. He gets another split, “of course” he says, like he expects them all to be splits on every shot. Do you let him drag your game down?

Keep Your Cool

Losing you cool cartoon showing swearing graffic

Or you have a string of strikes and you are running on pure adrenaline? You look at the monitor, and can’t believe that string of strikes. Don’t bowl against your score sheet, bowl against the pins. Always remember, focus on each frame, each strike. You can only roll them one at a time.

Think about what may have caused your back to back splits, and try to change your delivery slightly. I often change my hand position to get the ball to hook a little less, or a little more. Get yourself back on track with a nine count and cover the spare.

Do what it takes to stay within 15 pins or so of your average. Strive to always get the best score possible from the pair of lanes you are on. If you read my article Get More Strikes Bowling, you may get some good tips on how to strike more in your game.

When you are distracted by another person bowling, then allow them to bowl first. If a distraction happens on your delivery, pull your ball up toward you and redo the shot. It is hard to do, but make save you a missed shot. Whenever possible don’t allow others to distract you.

Practice Handling Stress – It Will Improve Your Mental Game!

The Mental Game in Bowling-Handling Stress

Whether you need one strike to win the game or you are competing in the league championship roll offs, you have the butterflies in your stomach. The stress is a good thing, because if you finish last, there is no stress anymore.

If you finish well, be proud of your achievement, you bowled well to get there.

Remember to breathe! Oxygen helps to relax us naturally. Breathe in, release slowly. Think about what got you here. Use the same shot routine, focus on your mark and watch how the ball rolls over it. Keep things simple, clear your mind, and enjoy the moment.

Know Your Game

I have learned over the years, if you can, try to take notice of what happens to your shot in the stressful situation. Do you grip the ball tighter and tug the shot? Personally, I need to slow myself down, because I get fast feet when I get tense.

Knowing what you tend to do, you know what to expect. That goes a long way towards keeping you calm in the tense situations.

Check out the oil pattern being used to help you decide what to do. Kegal oil patterns are used frequently, especially in tournaments. It may help to read my article Kegal Element Oil Patterns.

Always stay positive, and think positive. You are your biggest fan. Be kind to yourself and know you can do it always. As soon as you question yourself, you are in trouble. If you get a few lucky shots, be thankful and try to capitalize on that.

Don’t overthink the game. Keep focused and make good quality shots. Always try to learn and remember what you do in good shots as well as bad. Plan what you will do to make a bad shot better. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Use Great Mental Imaging For A Strong Mental Game

All great sport participants talk about seeing a visual image of themselves performing well.  Develop your own visual image of making a great shot and a strike and clean deck resulting. Aim for the same routine each shot, and talk positive talk to yourself. You always make this shot, you are a consistent bowler and make all your spares.

Wiping your ball clean after each shot is also a good idea. Why would you want any oil on the ball that could change the path of your ball? I personally like to wipe my ball, and blow into the thumb hole. I read a long time ago that PBA star Marshall Holman stated “Blowing into the thumb hole, imparts just the right amount of moisture for a good grip and great shot.”

When you take the time to wipe you ball each time you are also developing that mental imagery. Create a routine that will help calm you in stressful situations. Make yourself stronger in the mental game in bowling as well as developing solid skills in the physical game.

Keeping your equipment clean is also important. Read my article on Bowling ball Cleaning Tips and Deep Cleaning your bowling ball. If you would like an easy way to get the ball cleaning job done, check out my Bowling Ball Rejuvenator


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4 thoughts on “The Mental Game In Bowling – Improve Your Scores Now!”

  1. I understand the importance of focus, but I find it tough to stay focused and have fun with your friends at the same time. The laughs with buddies helps being relaxed and enjoy the evening, but it also is a huge distraction, which weakens the focus. Finding the perfect balance between focus and having fun is challenging. Any tips on that?

    • Hi Paul,
      I think you should go into your local bowling alley and ask for a lane beside 4 or 5 kids bowling. Then, spend a few hours concentrating on your game while they run up on you, and slam balls around while you are trying to bowl.When you are out with friends and having fun, focus will be a piece of cake.

  2. I like that you pointed out that you should always stay positive when you are bowling. I know I wouldn’t want to get angry while trying to have fun while bowling. So, it does seem like a good thing to remember.


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