Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fireside Lanes Bowling Clinic Report, Part 2

I recently posted Part 1 of a planned 3 part series on my experience at a bowling clinic held at Fireside Lanes in Citrus Heights, CA on June 6. The instructors were Dr. Dean Hinitz, Bill O'Neill, P.J. Haggerty, Leanne Barrette Hulsenberg, and Gary Hulsenberg. That first entry dealt mainly with the coaching we received on our physical games. Today, in Part 2, I'd like to provide an overview of the coaching we received, primarily from the bowling psychologist Dr. Hinitz, on our mental or psychological games. For, as Dr. Hinitz explained, the mental game is every bit as important if not more so to bowling success. And in the most elite bowlers, mind and body work harmoniously together as a masterful whole.

One thing I regret is that I didn't follow Dr. Dean's advice and take notes as he spoke to us about bowling psychology. If you ever attend a bowling clinic, or, for that matter, any event that presents information that you want to learn and remember, take good notes. You may think you'll remember everything or, at least, all the important stuff afterwards, but the fact is, you'll probably end up forgetting much of it if you don't take notes. Fortunately, I did jot down some key points of what I remembered after I got home. But by then I'd probably already forgotten entirely too much of the valuable information presented. So, please, don't you make that mistake. I certainly won't ever make it again.

Here are are some of the key points I managed to remember from Dr. Dean Hinitz's presentation on bowling psychology:

Don't tase me, bro!
Many people beat themselves up when they make mistakes on the lanes. They scold and disparage themselves unmercifully, and this is like taking the electrical shock device called a taser that police use to subdue uncooperative criminals and applying it to one's subconscious with predictably bad results. Figuratively tasing yourself in this way just makes you hate bowling and tense up in fear and anticipation of failure, and this is no foundation for bowling success.

Try to do it right, not avoid doing it wrong.
Many bowlers mistakenly try to prevent making mistakes by telling themselves not to make them instead of telling themselves what they want to do. For instance, they'll tell themselves "Don't miss that 10 pin" instead of "Make that 10 pin" or "Don't miss the pocket" instead of "Hit the pocket." When you tell yourself not to do something, your subconscious mind ignores the DON'T and focuses on the rest. So, you're more likely to do what you tell yourself not to do than if you don't tell yourself anything at all. So, don't tell yourself what not to do. Tell yourself what to do.

Stormy weather
If someone offered you $10,000 to walk a quarter mile in a heavy rain to collect the money, would you do it? Unless you're richer than I am, you darn sure would. You might not enjoy the walk. You might feel cold, wet, and miserable doing it, but by golly you'd do it anyway, because the prize would be worth the stormy discomfort. Well, suppose your goal is to get a strike or spare or win a match or tournament. Even if the lanes are tough, your opponent acts like a jerk, there are spectators talking or cheering too loudly, or you feel as angry or nervous as hell, the best thing you can do is keep trying your best to get what you came for. You may not be able to control or tune out the external distractions or stop feeling the unpleasant emotions, but you can see them all as being like stormy weather and you are in the middle of the storm pressing forward to collect your reward.

Character reigns supreme.
Dr. Dean once bowled in a tournament and had no chance of winning by the time he got to the final frame. Still, he tried his best on his remaining shots. Afterwards, as he was packing up to leave, an older gentleman walked up to him and said, "I was watching you bowl, and I saw that even though you were out of the running, you didn't stop trying. Most people would have given up at that point and just thrown the ball mindlessly, but you kept trying to make good shots. That shows character." The moral of the story is that nobody can score well and win every time, but we can ALL bowl with character, putting our best effort or full commitment into every shot.

Am I here?
Dr. Dean once sat with Chris Barnes and another great bowler as they watched Patrick Allen leave a 5 pin and then miss it on his spare attempt. He asked the bowlers why Allen missed the spare and they tersely answered that it was because "He wasn't there" on the shot. In other words, his mind had wandered away from executing well on that spare. So, when you step up on the approach to make an important shot, ask yourself, "Am I here"? That will help you to focus and make a good shot.

Sit in front.
Dr. Dean once encountered a touring pro of considerable talent who never allowed himself to sit in the front rows of an airliner, because they were the choice seats typically occupied by the most successful bowlers on Tour such as Chris Barnes, Walter Ray, Norm Duke, and Tommy Jones. This particular bowler didn't believe that he deserved to sit in front with these guys, so he always sat further in the back where he thought he belonged. But Dr. Dean told him to start sitting in the front, and when he did, he began to bowl better on Tour. Don't allow yourself to think that you don't deserve to be and bowl with the best.

Paris in the the spring.
Dr. Dean had two volunteers close their eyes while he wrote "Paris in the the spring on a board at the front of the room. He then asked the volunteers to open their eyes very briefly, close them again, and say what he had written on the board. They both said, "Paris in the spring." He told them to open their eyes a little longer and then close them again and say what was on the board. Again, they said, "Paris in the spring." This went on for some time with the volunteers allowed a longer and longer time to keep their eyes open and read the message before closing their eyes again and reporting what was written on the board. Each time, they said, "Paris in the spring." When he asked them if they were certain that's what the message said, they replied that they were. Finally, he allowed them to keep their eyes open and read the message as long as they wanted. They suddenly realized that they had misread the message. It didn't say "Paris in the spring." It said "Paris in the the spring." The lesson of the exercise is that we often see what we expect to see out on the lanes instead of what's actually there, and then we mistakenly adjust or play to what we falsely think we see instead of to the actual conditions we're facing. So, we need to keep our eyes and minds open to what's really there and, whenever possible, seek feedback from others as to whether we're really seeing what we think we are.

Pick one thing.
Dr. Dean asked Bill O'Neill what he focuses on when he's about to make a crucial shot under tremendous pressure. O'Neil replied that he focuses on one aspect of his physical game, perhaps a nice, smooth pushaway, and then executes his approach and delivery with that focus, trusting that it will bring everything else into line. This helps get his mind to feel less pressure and uncertainty by anchoring it on something he can directly control. This is something we can all do in pressure situations.

In Part 3, I'll offer some concluding remarks on the clinic and try to tie it all in to my recent bowling experiences, including my participation earlier this month in a tournament in Southern California.

No comments:

Post a Comment