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Tom Blasco's Expert Bowling Tips

-The How's And Whys Of Your Inner Workings-The Brain (part 2)

01/22/2007 - By Tom Blasco

      Your ability to perform your skills at your level of performance and achievement is brought about by the conditioning of your mind, not your body. Actually your performance under all conditions is really a reflection of how your training has fine-tuned the way your brain regulates the movements of your body.

      All the data from your receptors travels along your nerves into the brain in a continuous stream. Only a minute amount of this data is selected for retention and the rest fades away within a second. One theory has it that the retained bits of data are sent to your short-term memory. When they don't match or can relate sympathetic resistance - remember the odd feeling, out of balance - this is it. Now your brain decides upon a reaction, consults the long term memory again to call up the patterns of learned motor skills that are stored there, and finally issues the commands that get your body moving in the required way.

      This process, the initial sensing to the movement by the body, usually takes less than a half a second. The reaction time can also happen (plus or minus) in a few hundredths of a second.

      Scientists are become more aware of the fundamental role of the mind in performing athletic skills. The minds basis in athletic skill works in two ways. First, the brain acts and the body reacts upon the flood of information reaching your senses. Some brains do this faster and more efficiently than others, and the athletic ability (yours) depends in part upon how quickly or surely the brain responds to signals and then directs the body to move. Your bowling skill performance is controlled by the mind in a more subtle way. Top players talk about "mental toughness" or "mental preparation" as being the difference between winning and loosing, playing well or poorly. No two athletes (players), relate to or can define this attitude. One thing for sure is that the outstanding players learn how to tune out distractions and pressures and concentrate on the moves of the game and the present. Also, there is a fine line between concentrating too hard, which causes the player to tense up and make errors and a kind of automatic and relaxed concentration which allows peak performance.

      Some describe this desired attitude as "mental energy management." Thus, the total player brings into play not one specific function of the mind but a whole array of mental activities; cognition, emotions, both conscious and unconscious responses to signals received by the senses. So along with your physical prowess you can improve your athletic performance by training your mind as well as your body.

      Overall exercise will definitely help your bowling game, but more importantly it will make you feel better. Usually you'll have a better self-image. It also help you to be less anxious, depressed and more able to cope with stress. It can also help delay memory loss, and keeps reflexes and reasoning powers shaper. Exercise causes the brain to releases certain pleasure producing chemicals and a group of neuro-chemicals that trigger physiological reactions. The sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine systems, adrenal medulla cause the heart rate to increase more oxygen to the brain, and your eyes to dilate for improved sight.

      Sensors in the muscles, tendons, and joints provide the brain, through the nervous system, with constant updates on the position of your arms, legs, upper torso, mass in motion, shoulder rotation, weight transitions, etc. Your eyes, supply a wealth of data ranging from spatial orientation to strategic information.

      The inner ear give you your sense of balance, with hearing almost acting like eyes in the back of your head. Learning to interpret sounds or seeing particular pins leaves can become and are a valuable edge in our sport.

      Sometimes the goal of winning detracts from your task at hand. The critical factor in success is your ability to focus your concentration on the game or frame at hand, shot after shot.

      In the heat of competition your short-term memory is constantly monitoring choices as to which pieces of information are significant. When you are totally focused to the task at hand you'll make those choices faster and better, freeing part of the mind to plan the shot and anticipate actions and reactions, to includes adjustments, ball reaction and other aspects of the game that affect your overall play.

      Some players have the ability and power to tap the sources of psychic energy that allow them to concentrate and anticipate. Some coaches and instructors talk of motivation - or desire as a key variable. Your desire to perform at a level approaching absolute perfection is a trait shared by all super athletes.

      Short term memory is like a scratch pad where you check your math or jot down a phone number. You keep the details only as long as you need them, than the barely noticed images fade immediately.

      Long term memory - your permanent recording device must have images and get your full attention. Usually associated with something novel, noisy, wonderful, horrifying or of special interest causing you to focus on it. It may than start on the way to becoming established in your memory. Your long term memory is almost never lost. This problem may be your retrieval system. Your memory may link the information you want to a special event or circumstance, it eludes you and you are left with the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon; or you have suppressed the memory.

      Kinesthetic, or physical motor memories, are the longest lasting. There is a belief of the three memories; immediate, short term and long term. The immediate memory; names, faces, dates, images or situations or what my ball did and how it went through the pins. Two things happen, the perception can be lost after a few seconds, or the perception gets your attention and is transferred to the short term memory where it can last from 30 seconds to a few hours. The length of time we hold depends on our special effort to retain it.

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