In any sport, there is the good and there is the great. But what separates the good from the great?
I have found that there is one common denominator that every great bowler possesses – a strong mental game. Were they born with the ability to handle the nerves that come with a shot in the 10th for their first 300? Is it just natural for some bowlers to stay cool and calm under the pressure of your entire team on your shoulders? The truth is, every bowler with a strong mental game gained insight from an outside source. One of the most important things I’ve done in my career is cultivate an insatiable appetite for resources that explore the mental game.
My goal is to provide you with the list I wish I had when I first starting bowling. This is only the first installation of three transformational mental game books. The temptation with a lot of resources is to read them and promptly forget, but I urge you to take these recommendations seriously. More importantly, implement what you read. When asked what percentage of the game they think is mental, most athletes will say “90 percent.” Despite this, most of us will spend less than a quarter of that time practicing this aspect of the game.
Get these books, and watch your scores go up immediately. Believe in these authors, and their knowledge and experience will serve you.
I decided to read this book on the way to a tournament I was bowling in Japan. I felt like I was in an emotional and mental funk and needed some help getting out of it.
This book focuses on mental management, or the process that the author, and Olympic and champion, uses to describe how the mind works. Each principal is no more or less important that the others. You need all of them to be your best.
Principle 1- Your conscious mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time.
Principle 2- What you say is not important. What you cause yourself or others to picture is crucial.
Principle 3- The subconscious mind is the source of all mental power.
Principle 4- The self-image moves you to do what ever the conscious mind is picturing.
Principle 5- Self-image and performance are always equal. To change your performance, you must first change your self-image.
Principle 6- You can replace the self-image you have with the self-image you want, thereby permanently changing performance.
Principle 7- The Principle of Reinforcement. The more we think about, talk about and write about something happening, we improve the probability of that thing happening!
If this snippet of information doesn’t make you want to buy this book to start strengthening your game today, I’m not sure what will! Maybe this will help: After I read With Winning In Mind, I went on to win the 2012 United States Bowling Congress Queens. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The Inner Game of Tennis
By W. Timothy Gallwey
Ah, old trusty. I have read and referred to this book countless times. I can grab this book (which I always have handy), open it up to any page, start reading and automatically feel more sure of myself and my bowling game. My book has a lot of highlighting in it. I especially love the part about not “trying to win.” This is a concept I used during my most recent win at the 2012 USBC Queens. In 2007, I made the mistake of stepping on the TV show and trying to win it. I was never able to be myself. I rushed, I was distracted and before I knew it, it was over.
In the Inner Game of Tennis, Gallwey says:
“The difference between being concerned about winning and being concerned about making the effort to win may seem subtle, but in the effect there is a great difference. When I’m concerned only about winning, I’m caring about something that I can’t wholly control. When I win or lose the external game, it is a result of my opponent’s skill and effort as well as my own. When one is emotionally attached to results that he can’t control, he tends to become anxious and then try too hard. But one can control the effort he puts into winning.”
This book is an easy and quick read. It’s for all ages and all levels. If you are looking to understand how to bowl with more clarity and how to focus when you need a strike to win, then this is the book for you.
Golf is a Game of Confidence
By Bob Rotella
Again, this is another book I have marked up. Believe it or not, I have never golfed in my life, but I know a lot about it through reading books like this one. I’ve learned of golfers such as Byron Nelson and how he won 11 straight events. I read about Brad Faxon and how he stayed in the present. Because there are so many similarities between golf and bowling, it’s not hard to take the information given in this great book and apply it.
“A golfer cannot score as well as possible if he is thinking about his swing mechanics as he plays.”
The same thing is true in bowling. You cannot bowl your best when you are thinking about the mechanics as you’re executing them.
“Research in sports psychology is only beginning to reveal why this is so. The best I can say is that the human organism performs repetitive physical tasks best if the brain is not consciously trying to guide the process. It performs best when an individual focuses on a target or a goal and doesn’t think about how to execute the movement.”
Rotella does a great job outlining why the golfers he’s worked with are such strong athletes. He also explores the demons players face, their confidence issues and the yips. This book instills an emotion that is fundamental to all the great athletes – trust in your own game.
There are so many great mental game books to dive into. After you read these three, I will have more recommendations for you. This is it. This is your start to becoming the bowler you want to be. It’s not something that happens overnight, but if you keep seeking and practicing these concepts, I promise you it will happen quicker for you than for your opponent. Happy reading!
Please note: Some of our blog posts feature affiliate links which simply means we will get a small percentage if you choose to use our link to buy these items. We never recommend any resources or products unless we have experience with and believe in them completely!