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George Freeman's Expert Bowling Tips

-Smart Practice
04/02/2001 - By George Freeman
      As with just about any sport, practice is essential to maintaining a solid game.  However, the way you approach your practice sessions will determine how much you get out of them. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "You play like you practice," and it's true.  If you go into the bowling center to practice thinking, "Geez, I have to go in and practice," like it's a prison sentence or something, then chances are you aren't going to get a whole lot out of the session.  Your attitude towards practice will define how well you perform.  In short, you have to want to be there.

      When you've decided you want to be there, you then have to determine what it is you want to work on.  Does your timing need work?  Your swing?  Your pushaway?  If you need to work on one of these things, then pick one and work at it.  Don't worry too much about where the ball is going, just concentrate on what it is you are working on.  For instance, if you want to work on making your pushaway more consistent, then work on just that.  Don't try to work on your pushaway at the same time you want to work on other things.  You could end up putting too much thought into your shot..."ok, make sure my knees are bent and my pushaway is good and my swing is right and my head is steady and my....."  You'll end up looking like the robot from Lost in Space with all those variables running around in your head.  Pick one thing, work on it, let everything else go.  Your shots will be much more fluid and give you a better idea if your practice is paying off.

      Don't just play the track area of your home center.  Like I've said many times before, house conditions are usually the same in any particular house.  Chances are you already know how to play it, so try somewhere else on the lane.  If the house shot is outside, try playing the middle of the lane.  You may not need it in league, but if you go bowl a tournament and the outside shot isn't there, you'll have a better chance of doing well inside if you've practiced it.

      Occasionally it is good to bowl for score in practice.  When you do this, try to imagine yourself in different situations.  If you got a halfway decent imagination, this won't be too hard.  In your tenth frame, imagine yourself needing a double to win the game for your team.  Try to feel the emotions that would be present in a real situation like that.  Then, do your best to execute.  There is an endless number of scenarios you can imagine for yourself.  Being familiar with the emotions of certain situations will better prepare you for them when they come, and can give you the edge you need to come out on top.

      And finally, no matter what, try to have fun.  Each of us started in this sport because we enjoyed it, so don't forget to enjoy yourself.  As I mentioned before, sometimes we go into a practice session, or even a league or tournament for that matter, thinking it's a chore.  These kind of thoughts will lead to negative emotions going into a league or practice session, putting a damper on your performance before you even put your bowling shoes on.  Remember to think positive; if you don't bowl well in the practice session or the league, there will not be a firing squad waiting for you in the parking lot.  Honest.

      Well, hopefully this will give you a starting blueprint for your practice, good luck!!!!!

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