High Level Mental Performance

High Level Mental Performance

By Stephen Padilla, USBC Director of Coaching

It’s simply the most important part of the game of bowling. Every decision, every execution, each action in bowling revolves around the mental game. It’s different for each person and it’s never the same twice.  

The mental game guides every aspect of performance and is essential to overall progress. Not only that, but it also includes setting goals that are practical for growth.

To start, establishing two sets of pre-game routines will help develop a player’s mental game. Having a set of activities from the time you wake up to the time you enter the center is important as well as psychological preparation inside the center before the start of competition.


 Giving your all means preparing as hard as you compete.


A bowler can become better mentally by learning to handle the frustrations of practice and competitions. The focus should be on what to do within a game in response to things like a slow start, a poor shot, or an opponent’s strong performance. It’s also important to learn to deal mentally with successes as well as failures. Keeping the right frame of mind at the appropriate times will help develop a stronger mental game.

The proper physical and mental fitness includes assessment, scheduling, motivating during practice and/or competition, evaluation and goal setting. Using a USBC certified coach and a certified athletic trainer can help develop a bowler's physical abilities quickly and encourage mental toughness.


Good coaching can help anyone achieve their goals on and off the lanes.


Think of the worst thing that happens in bowling; the ball goes in the gutter. Get over it. Players can learn to play lines closer to the gutter and overcome a mental block by recognizing it’s not life or death, it’s a game.

Once players can repeat shots and make adjustments, the game becomes about managing decisions before, during, and after each shot. With the mental game, the goal isn't always about being at the top of the leader board, it’s about managing decisions. 

The mental process includes making decisions, mental imagery, emotional release and refocusing. These are several important steps to a sound mental game. Mental imagery includes seeing the path of the ball before throwing it or seeing the tournament and its environment before getting to the bowling center.

After the talent is established and the player’s physical game is refined, the mental game is what’s left to manage. Incorporate the mental game into winning by committing to goals and practicing with no wasted shots. A bowler who has a complete understanding of how their mental game affects their performances can develop it into a winning quality.