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Thread: Bowling Anxiety...

  1. #1

    Default Bowling Anxiety...

    It's an ordeal for me every time I go bowling. I try to practice in the early weekday afternoons so it will be less of a problem, but unless the place is completely empty, it's still a problem. Let me try to explain.....

    I obviously have my own equipment, so when I practice I get there with my own ball bag, pull out my fancy bowling balls, put on my fancy bowling shoes, put tape on my thumb, put a brace on my arm(now that I've switched to the power sleeve I'll be putting that on instead of the brace, which actually makes my anxiety worse), and stretch for a couple minutes. After doing all that, I feel like everyone around me is going to have certain expectations about my bowling skill. To make it worse, I'm a very slow starter. It takes a few minutes and a few balls to loosen me up. I also throw my first couple shots at half speed.

    Throwing that first shot is always incredibly nerve-wracking, and I usually want to crawl in a hole afterwards. Once I get loose, I'm more or less fine, but I know how bowlers are. Bowlers like to watch and internally critique other bowlers. There's nothing wrong with that, I certainly do it. So if there are any other halfway decent bowlers in the house, I feel like their eyes are burning into my back during those first shots, judging me. I always feel like Dennis Hopper in 'Blue Velvet'; I just wanna yell "DON'T YOU F-ING LOOK AT ME!!!"

    It happens quite a bit where I'll throw a shot and turn to walk back to the circle and notice multiple sets of eyes openly watching me bowl. If I'm throwing it well, I actually like and appreciate the attention, but when I'm having a bad day - which is often - it makes me more and more anxious. Just the other day I hit the alley, and within 5 or 10 minutes this guy just sits down at my table and starts watching me bowl. I didn't mind, I introduced myself, he's a nice guy and a regular there, but I was having a rough day and was pretty embarassed by the way I was throwing it.

    Does anyone else experience anything like this? Am I just crazy and in need of medication? Any stories about a particularly anxiety-riddled day on the lanes?
    Last edited by DrOcktagon; 02-28-2013 at 11:01 PM.
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  2. #2
    Ringer ecub's Avatar
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    It happens. Just ignore it. Hopefully you should be able to bowl better games, once you warm up. Then when people look over and see the rest of the frames, they can figure out your first few balls was just to warm up. Then when they see you again, they will know you're a good bowler, but just need those "warm up" games. Do you bowl in a league? You'll even get more crap talk from your own teammates.
    - Ed

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  3. #3
    Bowling God billf's Avatar
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    My first warm up shot usually cleans the right gutter. I even have been known to do that during a match. It's not a big deal, the ball return still brings it back. I don't get upset or nervous. The only expectations that are causing your anxiety are your own. The one thing that makes other bowlers happy while your bowling is if you're bowling poorly. So it seems as though it's not expectations that are the root of this or even fear of failure but rather fear of success. For whatever reason, I get the impression that you don't think you're good enough to bowl at the level you're capable of.

    Then again, I'm not a psychologist.
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  4. #4
    SandBagger SmilingBowler's Avatar
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    I've been there, especially when I go to practice by myself. Something about doing it alone can mean a different level of mental grit to survive. I would recommend buddying up with someone from league or maybe finding someone around your age or skill level who you see at the lanes during practice. If nothing else, it will help you focus attention on his bowling and your bowling together and not so much on what others are doing.

    It is a mental part of the game, similar to how shooting singles is very different than shooting doubles or team events in a tournament. There are different levels of mental grit required. Mainly because you don't have that outlet to tell you to "shake it off" after a tough break or to fist bump or high-five when you pick up a tough spare. That kind of encouragement can only happen when bowling with someone and it relaxes the mind; you won't feel like everyone is watching.

    About the first few reps. I do the same thing... I warm up stretching and winding my arm similar to a pitcher would in the bullpen, loosening the shoulder. The first 3-5 balls I throw are a lower backswing and much less follow through. I'm just warming up with those first shots. I don't know anyone who can take a ball out of the bag and throw in full game mode and continue to throw at that rate for three games without doing something that may cause a negative effect. Sometimes guys just gas out early if they do that, other times they can actually do damage to their shoulder, elbow or wrist.

    I'm no spring chicken and though I sure hope I haven't reached middle age at 32, I take every precaution and I take my time warming up. There's nothing wrong with that. Besides, I'd rather chuck it in the gutter in the first few practice balls than do it in the 9th frame any day. Sometimes I feel I bowl better when I get that monkey off my back early. LOL!
    Last edited by SmilingBowler; 02-24-2013 at 09:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrOcktagon View Post
    It's an ordeal for me every time I go bowling. I try to practice in the early weekday afternoons so it will be less of a problem, but unless the place is completely empty, it's still a problem. Let me try to explain.....

    Does anyone else experience anything like this? Am I just crazy and in need of medication? Any stories about a particularly anxiety-riddled day on the lanes?
    I'm a bowler, not a doctor, but I don't think you're anywhere near crazy. We all have our differences with what makes us uncomfortable. As a kid I was really shy, I still don't really go out of my way to introduce myself to new people. I found out in my early twenties that, not only that I didn't mind getting up and talking in front of 50 to 100 strangers, I really enjoy it. I get a big kick when somebody walking by while I'm bowling stops and does a double take when they notice me switch hands between shots.

    I would suggest going when the lanes are busier. When the lanes are almost empty any bowler is going to be the main attraction, especially one who looks like he should know what he's doing. When the place is closer to being packed, there's less chance of anyone focusing on you. Of course your subconscious mind is still going to think every one is watching, but if you can force yourself to go when its crowded a few times you may acclimate yourself and get rid of the anxiety.
    John

  6. #6
    SandBagger SmilingBowler's Avatar
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    John makes a real good point there when he suggests going when its more crowded. Two reasons why: like he said, not so many eyes will be on what you're doing and the other, as I pointed out earlier, you could easily find a doubles practice partner. Bowling alongside someone can only help your game. I used to get frustrated at myself for the simple little mistakes; like missing my mark or overpowering my swing.

    Then I started practicing with a guy from the alley. We were familiar with each other; bowled next to each other one week. The next week he asked me if I wanted to double up so we could switch lanes and get into a good rhythm. That lasted for the rest of the summer and the following year my average increased about 18 pins from mid point the year before to mid point of the latter. Less pressure. More fun.
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  7. #7

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    It's weird. It's something that I've always dealt with, but I think coming back after such a long layoff is making it worse. I'm no stranger to bowling in front of people. I bowled on YABA leagues every Saturday from age 5-18, bowled numerous state youth tourneys, regularly bowled the PK All Star Junior Regional Tour as a teenager, transitioned to men's and mixed adult leagues, and was even on the winning team in my area's most competetive men's league...but all this was over a decade ago.

    Over the last 11-12 years that I've been away from bowling, my nerves and anxiety have apparently gotten worse. Like I said, though, when I'm throwing the ball well I like to see people watching me. It boosts my confidence. But when my game is off, or when I'm warming up, I just wish I could create a black hole around me so that my awful bowling could not escape my event horizon.

    I'm not currenlty on league, but hoping to be by summer, so ideally this will pass with time and exposure. Perhaps going when it is busier, as J Anderson suggested, would help alleviate it sooner rather than later.
    Last edited by DrOcktagon; 02-24-2013 at 11:21 PM.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by billf View Post
    For whatever reason, I get the impression that you don't think you're good enough to bowl at the level you're capable of.

    Then again, I'm not a psychologist.
    Maybe you should be, because that is pretty accurate. I've never thought of it like that before.

    I've had confidence issues in pretty much everything I've ever done that involves some kind of assessment of skill.
    Last edited by DrOcktagon; 02-24-2013 at 11:23 PM.
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  9. #9
    Bowling God billf's Avatar
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    This is something that hasn't even entered my mind before. I subbed in a league this morning and as we finished I stayed where I was, pulled out my camcorder and practiced. Sure there were several people watching. I talked with them as I practiced, answering questions about form, lines, my camcorder, etc. yet never felt any pressure. Maybe part of it is I don't really care what those people think. As bowlers there aren't any in that league whose game I admire. When I bowl those whose game I do admire, it raises my game also. Dead, busy or anything in between, once I'm on that approach it's just me and the ball. Nothing else matters and those few seconds without any interruptions, that's my personal sanctuary.
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  10. #10

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    I think the problem a lot of people have with watching other people is that they then try to copy what they see works. And that's not really a great thing sometimes. I see some crankers go out and tear it but I know that's not my game so I don't ever try to copy it. If people want to watch me, God bless them. If they think I'm good, awesome. If they think I'm not good, they can suck it and I'll continue having fun anyway.

    I'll watch other people sometimes but I'll never critique anyone if they don't ask. I don't judge bad throws. **** happens. Everyone has them, even the pros. I like to watch and see if people can pick the right ball for the conditions out there and if they can properly adjust their game to the conditions. Even then, it's just me seeing what level people are at. The only people I frown upon are the people who use a house ball and chuck it as hard as they can, then try to act all tough when they finally get a strike.

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