Kazi & Mental Toughness: Bowling

In the fourth of our 6-part series on mental toughness, we examine bowling. We have previously written on mental toughness in running, soccer, and tennis.

By way of introduction, here is how we define it:

What is Mental Toughness?


Mental Toughness not hard to identify but difficult to define. Inc magazine provides an interesting starting point in “4 Excuses Mentally Strong People Don’t Use“. These are:

  • I’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
  • You only live once.
  • I don’t care what anybody thinks.
  • I deserve to be happy.

While these sayings aren’t necessarily bad, when used as excuses they tend to have deleterious effects. When mental toughness is defined as one’s ability to consistently demonstrate outstanding results in the most critical circumstances, then an excuse designed to shirk one’s responsibilities is counter-productive. In addition to the cliches above, we would humbly propose the following addendum:

  • Whatever will be, will be.

Now, there is probably a time and place for this. However, the mentally strong don’t use this as a way to avoid follow-through but rather as a comfort that when he has “worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted one the field of battle – victorious.”Not necessarily a victor in the  battle itself but a victor in knowing he has done all that he could. (h/t Vince Lombardi)

Mental Toughness in Bowling

We have all been in that position on the tenth frame. We have just knocked down eight pins. Two more stand tantalizingly at attention down a path of hardwood floor. The ball in our hands feels…right. We’ve done this so many times before. Just a nice easy roll down the center to set up the opportunity of the bonus frame…a frame we need if we are to beat that annoying friend who has been barely in the lead the entire game…




Have another sip of soda, piece of pie, nasty nacho. Turn around and face the ignominy of your friends’ jeers and declare that you will be playing another game because “you can’t finish like that”.

You see, bowling is one of those activities that is entirely mental. It is like shooting a free throw in basketball or throwing down a smash in volleyball. It’s simply not that hard with a bit of practice. It’s a mental thing. It’s having the fundamentals so “in synch” that you don’t even have to think about the operation. It just happens. The ball rolls off your hand, rotates down the hardwood, and smashes over the pins at the other end.


But for journeyman recreational players like us at Kazi, the muscle memory is difficult to come by. In tech-speak, the muscle-memory is a “hack” that corrects for the frailties of mental toughness. The more we think about it, the tougher the action is to do. But the problem is, for people who don’t bowl all that often, thinking about is exactly what we must do.

A Catch-21, if you will.

So what do we do?

Well, the first thing is that we need to disregard the importance of the game. Who cares if it gutters or if it is a strike? This is a hack that many rec players use because it fools the mind such that the pressure and the stress is alleviated. The reason you bowl is to have fun, not to win mountains of money.

The second thing that we must do is focus on the fundamentals and not the goal. Get the fundamentals down and the pins will fall with it. Focus on the pins and you’ll pull the shot and gutter it every single time.

The last thing you need to do is to practice, and preferably with strangers. This way you can train your brain into feeling the stress of proving your bowling prowess. You can invite friends, join a league, or (better yet) join Kazi!

So next time you’re bowling in the tenth frame, you can thank us when you land that strike.

P.S. To all our loyal readers, major apologies for the random one-phrase paragraphs. Sometimes, when the mood strikes….

P.P.S. Anyway, please spare us such gratuitous literary license…

(Image credit: Cashtonaffa)


2 thoughts on “Kazi & Mental Toughness: Bowling

  1. Pingback: Kazi & Mental Toughness: Ultimate Frisbee – The Kazi App

  2. Pingback: Kazi & Mental Toughness: Basketball – The Kazi App

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