Sunday, October 29, 2006

Better Bowling Through Confidence

I have recently been bowling far worse than I believe I'm capable of bowling. These days, I rarely score higher in a single game than my league average of all last season. I don't believe that I've necessarily gotten that much worse. The lane conditions where I bowl have definitely changed from what they were last year and have challenged me more. I'm also deliberately altering my backswing and release to achieve a more consistent and effective release and faster ball speed, and I think I'll probably be less consistent and effective than before until I master these changes, at which time I hope to be more consistent and effective than before.

Nevertheless, I'm really struggling, and I've noticed that my bowling confidence has sunk lower than it's been in years or even decades. Part of this is no doubt due to the way I've been performing. Part of it appears to be the result of more technical bowling articles I've been reading lately that have shown me how woefully ignorant I am of the finer points of what is actually a far more complex game than most people would ever imagine. But whatever is compromising my confidence, I'm convinced that my decreasing confidence is sabotaging my game.

I must learn many skills and make many improvements in my game if I really want to get significantly better. Sheer practice is not enough. But one of the things I must also do is boost my confidence. Some might argue that this is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. That is, I should not expect to be more confident unless and until better bowling gives me something to be more confident about. However, I believe that feeling more confident is one of the most direct and quickest routes to bowling better, which can then boost my confidence and performance to even higher levels. And the confidence that I initially cultivate to spark this process can be realistically based not on my current level of performance but on my capacity or potential to improve upon that level. Here is my formula for generating that spark.

If I want to bowl better, I must bowl with confidence.

If I want to bowl with confidence, I must walk, talk, and act as though I'm confident whenever I'm in a bowling center.

If want to walk, talk, and act as though I'm confident whenever I'm in a bowling center, I must walk, talk, and act as though I'm confident everywhere at all times.

In other words, "act the way I wish to feel, and feel the way I wish to act." In Star Trek, there is something called the "Rules of Acquisition" that act as the guiding principles of all self-respecting Ferengi in their daily conduct, aimed, as it is, at building wealth and power. I'm tempted to construct my own personal list of guiding rules or precepts with the maxim above at or near the top of that list.

In any case, I discovered while bowling the other morning that when I acted more confident on the outside, even if I didn't initially feel more confident on the inside, I came to feel more confident, to bowl more confidently, and to execute and score better. This, in turn, boosted my confidence even more. I'm not going to implausibly claim that this instantly transformed me into a world class bowler. But it did help me to perform at a less mediocre level. It was a quick and easy way to feel better and perform better. I'm now striving to do this in all aspects of my waking life.

I'll let you know how it works out.

4 comments:

Petey said...

Then again, few things are worth doing as well as they can be done.

Nagarjuna said...

"Petey"--
If I understand you correctly, you're suggesting that certain activities aren't worth doing all that's necessary to perform those activities as well as we possibly can. I agree. We need to establish priorities and devote the amount of time and effort to them that seems necessary to achieve the OPTIMAL degree of proficiency for THAT activity with THAT priority ranking.

Having said that, I've been bowling regularly for more than forty years and love the game. I've also had outstanding bowlers tell me that I have the potential to perform successfully at the senior (50+ year old) professional level. I would like to come as close to fulfilling that potential as my ability and opportunity allow.

I don't believe that I have the time and opportunity to study and practice the game as much as I would need to in order to become the very best I could possibly be. But I DO believe that I may have the time and opportunity to improve my skills appreciably beyond their present level and to become more competitive in leagues and tournaments than I've ever been.
--Steve

Petey said...

All I know about bowling is that you shouldn't roll on shabbos and nobody f***s with Jesus.

Nagarjuna said...

Petey--
I don't know about Shabbos, but I've bowled more than once on Christmas day and enjoyed it immensely. I hope Jesus didn't mind. :-)