Cool, Calm, Collected: How a Clear Mind Can Lead to More Strikes

Ask professional bowlers around the world, and they’ll say the same thing: a calm mind can lead to a better game score. Those who get overly nervous or excited before each turn may find that their scores aren’t what they’d hoped. Nervous energy sparks a physical reaction in your body, tensing muscles and setting off a chain reaction that can shatter confidence levels. Pro athletes call this “choking!”

Don’t let it happen to you – here are several helpful tips to help you stay calm while bowling. The below recommendations will help you relax and visualize each turn in order to improve your game:

Leave Goals at the Door

Try not to think too hard about your performance before a game starts. It’s common to brainstorm goals (for example, “I want to bowl three strikes in a row”), but this line of thinking can also lead to nervousness. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having goals, and it’s always advantageous to remain hopeful. However, staying too fixated on your goals can be a disadvantage that leads to nervous thoughts.

Keep Focused During Each Turn

With a solo sport like bowling, it’s necessary to “get in the zone” with each turn. Don’t let your mind drift, and don’t think about anyone other than yourself – this means not worrying about opponents, wondering who’s watching you play, or questioning what potential coaches and teammates might be thinking. Wondering what others think is a gateway to tension and nervous energy. Think only of yourself, and don’t compare your skills to others, and you’ll stay calm and more focused.

Stay Busy and Distracted before and after Each Game

If you’re involved in a bowling league or team that hosts regular games, you may find yourself stressing before big competitions. While you can’t stop yourself from thinking about the game, try not to get worked up – you can’t control the outcome of the game before it even starts! Stay busy before each tournament to keep your mind distracted, and also be proactive in banishing lingering thoughts that crop up after a game. Rehashing each game and thinking about what could have been done differently can help you prepare for future competitions, but don’t beat yourself up. Stay positive, and you’ll be relaxed and ready to reach new goals during the next game!

Don’t Focus on the “Uncontrollables”
In any given sport, especially bowling, there are many aspects of the game that you can’t control, such as how well you’ll play, or which teammate will bowl first. If you often find yourself focused on the things you cannot change, it may help to make a list of these items before each game. Making a tangible list of triggers will help identify negative thoughts as soon as they crop up, so you can stay away from mental “traps,” and stay calm and collected for the game.

Remember to Have Fun               

Lastly, having fun is the secret to staying calm in the heat of the moment! If you put much stock in a game or competition, it immediately becomes too serious, and your performance will suffer. To do well, get into the game and fully enjoy every aspect – that’s why you’re playing, isn’t it? Focus on what you really love, be it the camaraderie, the sport itself – or even a challenge from a tough opponent!

The key to a great game of bowling is to stay loose, relaxed, and focused on only one thing: the sport itself. Stay positive and keep the faith in your abilities, and you’ll have much success! For more tips about bowling, bowling equipment, and reaching your best score yet, subscribe to the Murrey Bowling blog or email

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