Over the years, I have counseled and coached a wide range of bowlers. Some of these people compete in weekly leagues. Some of these athletes compete at the high school level. Others bowl for a college team. And some are professional bowlers competing on the PBA tour or are individuals who are hoping to make it on this prestigious tour. Every bowler who talks to me wants to learn how to bowl in the zone more often.
It does not matter if you are an amateur bowler or a professional bowler, the name of the game is getting more strikes and more spares every time you step on the alley. In addition, you want to avoid open frames and you want to avoid leaving yourself difficult splits for spares. As most bowlers know, splits are usually a function of being to high on the head pin.
Now, there are many ways of learning how to bowl in the zone and there are many psychological, emotional and physical barriers which can prevent you from bowling your best. Bowlers have described all kinds of psychological blocks to me over the years. Nevertheless, no matter who you are, you can enter the zone more often, if you can do three things before you move toward the foul line with your fingers in your ball.
First, you need to know how to relax. Your mind and your body need to be calm, limber and at ease.
Second, you need to able to be focused on what is most important to you. It may be your mark. It may be your stroke. It may be your line. It may be a board. Or, it may be your follow through. Or, it could be your tempo. Usually, being focused on just one thing is the right frame of mind for competing at a high level. I teach advanced bowlers how to focus on one thing or I teach them to have an empty mind which is clear of all distractions.
The third thing you need is confidence. You need to know how to allow yourself to believe in yourself and to believe in your physical and emotional strengths. This is vital for a bowler or for any athlete. I believe that each of these elements can be worth nine or ten points to many bowlers. Think about it. If you are relaxed, focused and confident, you are going to make a few more spares and a few more strikes.
These mental skills parallel what one feels when one is in a hypnotic state. The zone can be thought of as an altered state of mind. Many bowlers find that when they master self-hypnosis, they are better able to bowl in the zone more often.