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The Winning Ingredients - Part 3


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9.  Be the best partner a bowler like you could have.


We generally see two kinds of competitors.  First are those who subtly, or overtly, self-punish every mistake they ever made.  Second are those who recognize the humanness of athletic performance.  These athletes intelligently and supportively avoid the arrogance of perfectionism.


If you are a self-punisher, you risk creating the kind of long-term pressure that choking is ultimately made of.  Two other consequences for self-punishment are a seriously delayed learning curve, and completely losing the joy that can be so much a part of any athletic endeavor.


If you are a good partner to yourself, you can have it all.  You can learn and adjust at an accelerated rate.  You enjoy the game, thus preventing burn out and having a better life.  And, if it matters to you, you become a heckuva lot more fun to play with.

With respect to weaker equipment, it is sort of common lingo to say, “straighter is greater”.  Yet, this really is often the truth.  If you look at bowling ball advertising nearly all of the ads promote the power of four-wheel drive balls.  Oil-churning, road-grating, chain saw balls rule.  It is silly really.  Yet bowling culture, particularly youth bowling, is like NASCAR, people like to see hard fast left turns.

When you mature to the point that you know that your “weak stuff”, is really your power stuff, you will have mastered one of the fundamental mental and physical game hurdles for advanced and beginning players alike.

10.  Fall in love with your spare ball, as well as your less reactive equipment.

First off – there is distrust in the ability to push the ball away on a straight line and hit a stationary target.  Without extensively practiced experience, many bowlers simply don’t have confidence in their spare ball.


Second – big ball reaction, particularly at home, is sexy. It just looks so darn impressive to roll a casual big swinging hook at a 4-pin, that on an easy pattern – it becomes a nonchalant way to show what you can do with a ball.


Third and lastly – it is laziness.  Few players have the discipline to throw plastic at every spare in practice.  Fewer still have the rigor to stop, focus, and treat spare shots in practice the way they intend to in competition.

There you have it.  Like the old saying goes, “You play like you practice”.  Practice winning by following the above 10 principles. You will not play worse, and in fact, if you put these ten into play you will wring the most out of your game.  If bowling itself could promise you that, it would!

Written by Dr. Dean Hinitz – The Mind Game – ©Bowling This Month Magazine (used by permission)

Source material and quote drawn from Rotella, B., The Golfer’s Mind, Free Press, New York.


Dr. Dean Hinitz is a clinical sports psychologist in Reno, Nevada, a bowler, former competitive gymnast, and black belt in Japanese-style Karate.  His email address is hinitzlimited(at)