Before Stepping on to the Approach
Remember the times when you have gotten set to bowl,
only to become distracted with a noise, or catch
someone out of the corner of your eye, 2 lanes over,
starting before you?
you stop, reset and
your pre-shot routine or try and throw your ball
anyway, even though your timing, subconsciously, has
now been thrown off? Well, every sport faces a
similar issue. Every sport has developed
techniques of blocking out the noise, the tension of
the moment, and bringing focus to the task at hand.
It is called a pre-shot routine.
is actually part of the mental game of bowling. In
the sports world, the mental outlook is very
important for success. This is true not only in
sporting events, but in all aspects of life. There
are several ways to achieve this positive outlook,
and much has been written.
pre-shot routine is a set of actions or trigger
thoughts you call up each time you bowl. These
actions or thoughts calm the mind, brings stability
and focus into your next move, evens out your
timing, and triggers your entire mindset and actions
to bowl your best shot over and over again. A good
pre-shot routine is just like what you see when
world class athletes perform.
The Professionals Do It
Basketball players bounce the ball a certain number
of times prior to their free-throw. Tennis
players bounce the ball a number of times as part of
their serve. Baseball players swing the bat a
couple of times just before getting into their
hitting stance. Golfers take the same number
of practice swings before actually putting the ball.
Track runners swing their arms and give a back kick
before getting settled into the blocks prior to the
starter's gun. The next time you watch a sporting
event, focus on the individual athlete and learn
their pre-shot routine. Why wouldn’t you expect to
observe a bowler’s pre-shot routine as well?
Well, actually the better bowlers do have a pre-shot
establish a pre-shot routine?
establishes your mental focus as well as your
physical preparation for the next shot. The
pre-shot is that brief mental preparation that
prepares you for each shot.
thought process is often distracted by random
conversations (most that are pointless),
unpredictable occurrences, and we tend to lose focus
between each ball delivery. We become
distracted from thinking through whatever we need to
do to prepare for the next shot. The pre-shot
routine is effective because it is our way of
regaining our focus. And while it is an
essential factor in consistent bowling, it’s as
unique as our fingerprint. Individual pre-shot
routines differ as well, and are tailored to assist
in establishing a calm, consistent recovery from
distractions and a refocused concentration on how
you will perform your next ball delivery.
have daily routines. I have a routine when I rise
up in the morning, another when I prepare for the
day, and still other routines as I move through each
daily task. I return home, eat, rest and bowl,
each with a familiar routine attached. I move
though each routine as though it were simply a part
of who I am, and how I approach life. We even
have familiar routines in our conversations and
personal interactions. We speak differently to
our boss, our spouse, people at work, and even
strangers, each in a familiar manner that identifies
how we conduct life.
would be safe to say that most folks have unique
routines allowing them to remain relaxed and
comfortable as they approach life. So what
about bowling? Wouldn’t it be great to feel
that relaxed and fluid motion when you are executing
routine, a pre-shot routine,
enhances the probability your body will execute your
delivery as it has been trained to do. After a
period, you won’t even notice you’re doing it.
pre-shot routine calms you physically, helps renew
your focus, and minimizes distractions that often
ruin your delivery.
Establishing a pre-shot routine should enhance and
not complicate your bowling. The pre-shot
should be simple, meaningful and calming. A
lengthy pre-shot can actually be detrimental if you
“over-think” the shot.
your routine prior to each ball delivery. The
pre-shot routine begins as you move toward the ball
rack, and before you pick up your ball. It should
only involve triggers that move you toward making a
consistent ball delivery. We’ve seen pre-shot
routines in almost every sport.
look at typical pre-shot components you may
Recognize your surroundings.
What is happening around you as you step toward the
approach such as a split on another lane or
pointless chatter should be tuned out?
to ensure they are all there and on spot
your ball towel,
folding and unfolding it before picking up the ball.
slower, and deeper breaths
Take a mental note what adjustments you will make
for this shot. Cement your strategy to gain a
mental image of the next ball delivery DO NOT wait
until you are on the approach to do this.
your hand with your rosin bag or towel.
your hand with the air dryer
to ensure dry fingers are placed in the ball.
behind your target line
where you plan to establish your stance
the ball with both hands, and cradle the ball in
your non-bowling arm.
off excess oil from your ball.
your ball is at the correct height, and your hand is
in the position that reflects the ball reaction you
Step on the approach and
set up your stance
as you designed it for this shot
your target, zone or target points,
and picture the path you want your ball to take
a positive thought
as you visualize where and whatever you want to do.
Examples: “Steady Speed”, “Wait for the ball”, “Stay
Aggressive”, “Follow Through”, “A Good Stance and a
Good Finish”, etc.
Pre-shot triggers should be productive; it
does matter that you do it every time and you are
aware of what you're doing. Some pre-shot
routines may even be humorous or part of a mental
game you play with your competitors. The
pre-shot routine is a discipline that leads toward
Concentrate. Clear Your Mind,
your focus is on your bowling, and you are calm.
Take a deep breath and exhale, then bowl!
Being prepared mentally on and off the lanes is
THE most critical phase of bowling. What good
does it do if the only thing you are thinking about
on the approach has nothing to do with your next
ball delivery? The idea of a pre-shot routine
is to better ensure a positive outlook; a technique
to achieve success in whatever your next task is.
This is true with bowling, most any other sport or
any other aspect of a successful life.
Bowling, after all, is a great place to learn how to
focus, how to perform well, how to approach each
shot in life, and how to interact with those who
enter your life.