The Mental Game of Bowling


The mental game of bowling is the key to becoming successful at the sport. It’s true that bowling is a physical activity. But there is more to bowling than skill and technique.

Like in many other sports, the best athletes in bowling also master the mental components of the game.

But what is mental game and how do you train it?


The Importance of Mental Game

Simply put, playing the mental game of bowling means incorporating mental toughness into bowling.

Mental toughness means you have a psychological edge that makes you able to cope with training, competition, and physical demands of bowling.

Successful bowling athletes do not only train their techniques regularly.

They also have the determination, focus, and confidence that keeps them in control of the game, even under pressure.

Having mental toughness will not only help you in bowling but also in all areas of your life.

It helps you think clearly and adapt to uncertain or unexpected situations.


How to Have a Strong Mental Game

There are many mental components of bowling. However, just like physical skills all of them can be trained.

Here are the areas to focus on to train your mental toughness.

1.Stress Optimization

Fear, anxiety, and stress will always be present. Too much of them and you can’t perform.

But a healthy dose of pressure can be a great adrenaline boost.

So, it’s important to manage your stress at an optimum level.

It’s enough to motivate you to focus and do your best, but not too much that you’re paralyzed.

Once you have mastered stress optimization, you will be able to use a stressful environment to your advantage.


2.Relax and Focus

Relaxation and focus are how you achieve stress optimization.

When you’re relaxed and you’re fully concentrating on the game, you have no space in your mind for anxiety.

Being in a state of calm enables you to take a great shot.

To relax, you can do a simple breathing exercise.

Even taking deep breaths can help your muscle feel less tense.

Focus on the here and now, and you won’t overthink. Visualization also makes it easier to relax and focus.



You must’ve heard of the visualization technique.

A lot of professional athletes of many sports visualize themselves mastering techniques and nailing every game successfully.

By visualizing what they set their minds to do, they’re more likely to succeed.

Visualizing also creates a vivid mental image that helps you focus on winning, rather than worrying about whether you’re shooting a gutter ball or not.

Before playing, try to take a moment and imagine yourself actually playing it.

Picture yourself throwing the ball and watching it roll down the lane to a strike.

Make it a habit and you’ll be surprised by how much you improve!


4.Grounding Yourself

Sometimes we are so tense and stressed that we focus on what might go wrong.

It’s very easy to forget the here and now.

It’s important to ground yourself so that you can concentrate on the game instead of worrying about it.

There are some things you can do for grounding. Firstly, position your feet on the proper boards before shooting.

Your posture and technique must be correct. Visualize yourself hitting a strike while getting into the right stance.

Focus and take a deep breath, then shoot your shot through the target.


5.Having a Positive Mental Attitude

Having a positive attitude and mindset is very important in the mind game.

Our minds are very powerful. If you think you will do badly, you will do badly in the actual game.

Rather than focusing on past mistakes, recall the skills and techniques you’ve practiced.

Focus on relaxing and grounding yourself in reality. Believe that even if you fail, you will fail well.


6.Failing Well

Every single bowling player, professional or not, has failed at some point in time.

What we see in the news and social media is always the good only.

But remember that you can’t achieve success without failing first. This is where the ability to fail well is important.

Failing well means you are aware of why you fail and know how to work on it.

It’s about extracting value and lessons to learn from failure.

When you fail well, you can apply what you’ve learned in another performance to improve your ability.


7.Knowing and Maxing Out your Limits

It’s important to know your physical limits and working toward expanding them.

Know when to rest so that you don’t overextend your body.

On the other hand, a good athlete is able to perform maximum efforts despite physical and mental pain and discomfort.

Being able to push past the tough demands of a hard training session is a sign of mental toughness.


8.Setting Goals

Setting a goal can help you improve your performance and attain an outcome.

Professional athletes set goals and strategies to achieve them.

Start with smaller, achievable goals like setting a new personal best.

This helps you in visualizing success and building confidence to set larger goals.


9.Training Your Muscle Memory

Have you ever seen a musician plays a song effortlessly, even when surrounded by a large audience?

Most of the time, the musician has practiced so often that he or she goes on autopilot.

This is called muscle memory, and it also applies to bowling and other sports.

The more you practice, the more your brain remembers how to move your body for a task quickly and correctly.

Sticking to a routine helps train muscle memory.

Performing a routine like breathing exercises before taking a shot tells your brain that it’s time to execute the memory.


10.Cultivating a Winners’ Mindset

This is the belief that you will win and always perform at your peak level.

Even though you can fail, you believe that you will fail well and do better next time.

Once you have confidence and a positive attitude, it’s not hard to have this mindset.

A winner’s mindset is the key to mastering the mental game of bowling.