How Complete Is Your Bowling Game and Training Routine?
Joe Slowinski, ABD, M.Ed.
In 2000, the World Tenpin Bowling Association’s Technical Committee defined a skilled bowler as one who possesses: versatility, accuracy, power, repeatability and knowledge. This definition requires a bowler to have a holistic and complete game. So, ask yourself, where do you stand in your game? This is one of the most important questions you can ask as you are developing a training plan. As a coach, I define a holistic player as being competent in four main domains: technical, tactical, psychological and physical. These are defined below. Read the quick summary of each domain and answer the questions. This will allow you to evaluate your current state of your game and how complete it is. Most importantly, you will be able to identify the areas of weakness in order to develop and improvement plan.
Technical – The word technical is derived from the Greek technikos, meaning art or skillful. I categorize all of the physical game aspects in this area. From good timing to the ability to manipulate releases, all of the skills of the elite bowler are classified in the technical game. A bowler needs a solid technical game in order to repeat good shots, generate power, be accurate as well as be a versatile elite tenpin bowler. How would you answer the following questions?
· Have you mastered the physical game basics including a relatively free swing and good timing?
· Are you balanced, at the foul line, on 99% of my shots? If not, then your response to the first question should not be yes.
· Can you adjust your axis rotation, with a minimum of 3 different degrees (0 degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees)? Can you do more (0, 15, 30, 60 & 75)?
· Can you adjust ball speed precisely, with at least 3 different ball speeds (slow, medium, fast)?
· Can you alter your rev rate precisely, with at least 3 different variations (low, medium, high)?
· Can you change your axis tilt?
Tactical – Literally, tactical is defined as someone who is skilled in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose. Applying the technical skills with lane play strategies goes here. Knowledge is needed about the ball reaction associated with one’s technical skills. In addition, bowling ball covers and layout design to match-up is an important component.
· I develop a lane play plan for each tournament, based on lane conditions?
· I alter my lane play plan based on changes observed in qualifying? I continue to develop my lane play as I advance, through different rounds.
· I can accurately use multiple targets on the lanes to change my trajectory line and launch angle? This knowledge is used in my lane play plan?
· I understand how my ball reaction will change by looking further down the lane or closer, with my targeting? I am competent in using this knowledge in making adjustments as the lane changes. This knowledge is used in my lane play plan?
· I understand how to alter my release to control the amount of skid and backend reaction I need as the lanes change? This is part of my lane play plan?
· I understand bowling ball cover stocks and layouts to best match-up for tournament conditions as well as lane transitions?
· I understand how to alter my cover stock to change the ball reaction to better match-up with lane conditions? I use this information to prepare my equipment in advance.
Psychological – A bowler can’t repeat shots if they are impacted by nervous reactions or are emotionally up and down. A bowler needs to work on their mental game as well. Focus, promoting repeatability, emotional awareness, confidence and visualization is in this domain.
· I use a pre-shot routine for both strike and spare shots to increase my likelihood of repeating a good shot?
· I am aware of where I am standing and what release I will be using before I begin my approach?
· I am disciplined enough to check my feet and body in the stance to ensure that my swing and timing will be exactly the same each shot?
· I have a set of positive self-talk statements that I draw-on for keeping my thoughts positive.
· I am aware of my emotions, as I bowl? I manage my emotions in order to not get overly excited or down?
· I use visualization to prepare for an upcoming tournament?
· I am able to recognize when I am becoming stressed?
· I am able to eliminate physical symptoms when I become aware of nervousness?
Physical – I place fitness and nutrition in this category. This is the category in which most bowlers are the weakest. And, as a whole, bowlers have a poor image of fitness and nutrition. But, if you want to become an elite bowler, then this will help you maintain stamina enabling you to repeat quality shots from the start to finish of a block or squad.
· I do cardiovascular (aerobic and anerobic) exercises at least three times each week?
· I do strength training, for bowling related muscle groups, at least twice weekly?
· I make an effort to eat healthy?
· I have an eating and drinking plan for tournament play?
Closing Remark This short article was intended for you to take stock of your strengths and weaknesses. It is not intended to exhaustive, but, rather, illuminative. Use the honest self-assessment to determine what domains need the most attention to move yourself forward as a bowler.