Over the years, I have counseled many bowlers. I have showed them how they can get into the zone before they release their ball and roll it down the lane. I also teach them what they can do when they
get nervous, lose their confidence and start to feel themselves slipping out of the zone.
Bowlers, like shooters and archers really can control the outcome of their performances. The only variable they have to contend with once they dial into the zone is the differences between the two lanes which they are competing on. As all bowlers know, lanes have different tracks and different breaks and the amount of oil on the surface can vary from one lane to another.
Also, unlike some other sports they are not competing directly against their opponents and they can not control what their opponents might do. They can, however, control the relationship between themselves, the ball, the lane and the pins.
Bowlers who I coach, master the art of placing themselves into a state of mind which we call "the zone." This "zone" resembles a hypnotic state where the athlete is totally absorbed in what he or she is trying to do with the ball and with their bodies. He or she is confident, focused and relaxed. They are zeroed in on their spot or their line. They tend to be optimistic and believe that their bowling dreams and goals can become realities. The release of the ball is effortless and automatic and they don't have to think too much about it. While in the zone, bowlers find it easy to replicate their stroke over and over again. They get into a machine like rhythm.
Choking can be thought of as being the opposite of being in the zone. I do all I can to help bowlers avoid this dreaded state of mind and I teach them techniques to manage choking if they start to lose their confidence and focus or if they become too tense to perform to their potential.
For instance, some bowlers have to change what they think and what they say to themselves prior to stepping on the lane. Some need to change their target. Frequently, when bowlers feel the pressure, they speed up their approach a bit. This can damage their timing, their leverage, their accuracy and their score.
Typically, bowlers begin to combat choking by learning one simple technique or by making one simple change which gets their mind and their body away from choking and on to the right path for performing to their potential.
Learning how to avoid choking and how to bounce back after a bad frame or a bad ball are essential skills for people who want to bowl at a high level.