The Mental Game – “The Zone”

By Derek Petty

Do you have the mental game it takes to compete? Can you get yourself “In the Zone”? Bowling is a complete game and how you practice is how you compete. It’s okay to use league as practice, just remember that practice needs to mimic your competition style – get every pin you can, make quality shots, and know what you want to do.
So, how do you get in the zone and what is “The Zone”?  We have all had that night of bowling where EVERYTHING goes your way. Ball after ball after ball, the pins kept falling. Be it your first honor score or your twentieth, bowling honor scores are not easy and they take concentration, some luck and majority of “The Zone”. I relate the zone to zen – it’s the place where your confidence is insurmountable, where nothing bothers you, and everything you do feels perfect. From the moment you pick up your ball right through the time the ball explodes into the pins, it’s all second nature, it’s easy. During these times, it does not take extra effort, it all just flows. You know your rhythm, you know how hard to throw the shot, you know where the ball is going and how it is going to react, and you can definitely sense the outcome. You are in a place where all things happen – in order – and perfectly. There were no distractions, and no questions asked, you just do it, every time, over and over and over. That’s “The Zone”. Whether it’s your pre-shot routine, or where you park at the center, or what entrance you go through, it’s consistent and reassuring. It puts your mind in that safe place and allows you to get in your comfort zone. Confidence is the largest piece of “The Zone”. Without it, there is no zone.
People talk about statistics with regards to bowling being X amount physical and Y amount mental. No matter what the percentage is, both need to be at 100% every time you lace them up, every time you enter the center, every time you pick your ball up. Once you release the ball, you can’t take it back. The shot you make needs to be your best shot, EVERY TIME. So, think about what you do when you compete. What is your typical route before you get to the center, what do you do when you get there, and what is your pre- shot routine? If any of that changes, do you think that effects your mental game for the night or tournament? You bet it does. So when those things happen, figure out how to push them aside, channel those thoughts and get back in “The Zone”. Think about the task at hand and deal with the NOW.
Bowling can be easy, fun and very rewarding. Work hard at it and make every shot count. Do yourself a favor and be your best every time out. See you on the lanes.