As a youth bowler, you usually will go through the same routine every week – Saturday morning league, three games, maybe travel league or some tournaments here and there, but that’s it.
Collegiate bowling is on a whole different scale of challenges and competition. If you’ve been granted the opportunity to bowl for a college, it is the most challenging and rewarding experience any bowler can encounter.
Aside from simply bowling a few games a week, here are some steps you can take to prepare for college bowling:
- SPARES, SPARES, SPARES: I cannot stress this enough. Spares are the name of the game on a house shot, but they are especially important on a Sport shot.Typically, on a Sport lane condition, strike percentages tend to go down. Therefore, it is critical to practice spares as much as possible throughout the summer before beginning the collegiate season.Spending a day or two a week on only spares will pay off once you start practicing in college. Coaches may look for players who consistently hit the pocket, but hitting the pocket seems like a small accomplishment if you don’t pick up spares.I know I wish I would’ve practiced spares more before I started bowling in college. So, again, SPARES, SPARES, SPARES.
- Practice Bowling Under Pressure: When you are bowling in collegiate competition, anyone can be put in a position where they have to make a 10 pin or strike to win the tournament.The only way you truly can practice bowling under pressure is to put yourself in pressure situations. Bowl in as many tournaments as you can.I have been a collegiate bowler for three years, and I still get nervous. There’s nothing wrong with having that adrenaline rush because it shows your love for the game, but keeping those nerves under control ultimately will make you a more successful player.As bowlers, we tend to make the most mistakes when we rush and get too ahead of ourselves in competition. As a result, this can cost us a higher finish in a tournament.
- Exercise: Bowling isn’t the first sport that comes to a person’s mind when they think of an athlete. However, tournament weekends are mentally AND physically exhausting.Most of the time, tournaments start at 8 a.m. and end around 5:30 p.m. This means you are standing on your feet constantly for AT LEAST nine hours a day. Put that together with constantly putting all of your mental focus into each and every shot, and you will never want to get out of bed the next day. Oh, except when you have to go to class at 9 a.m. after an eight-hour bus ride the night before.Exercising will prepare your body for the grueling tournament weekends. Working on stamina will be beneficial for maintaining energy throughout each tournament day as well as strength exercises to keep your body in fit condition. Even if you just start with running a mile a day, it will pay off more than you expect once you experience your first collegiate tournament.
- Eating The Right Food: Just like exercise, nutrition is just as important when maintaining energy throughout competition. Eating large amounts of sugar or carbs will ultimately cause your body to crash later on in the day, and this isn’t what you want if you have to make a 10 pin on the last shot of the entire day to put yourself in first place or win the tournament.Fruit, whole grains and water are great for consumption during tournaments. They are light, hydrating and filling without being too heavy on the stomach.
- Go Through Your Equipment: Whether you need to replace old equipment or expand your arsenal, I would highly recommend going through your bowling balls before leaving for college.As a collegiate bowler, you will encounter various oil patterns of different lengths and volumes. Therefore, it is key to have a wide variety equipment to suit the general short, medium and long patterns. Having a small arsenal will make it difficult to adjust to lane conditions if you are bowling on a tough pattern.Also, don’t take up the space in your bowling bag with older stuff you never use. It would be more beneficial to get newer equipment that work well on future competition patterns.
- Fine Tune Your Physical Game: If you have trouble maintaining a straight arm swing, focus on that. Do you tend to fall off balance a lot? Practice posting all of your shots at the line. Tweaking the imperfections in your physical game will help prepare you more for adjusting to different oil patterns or trying different ball paths. But, remember, noticeable progress is not visible overnight, so be patient and keep rolling (bowling pun).
Are YOU ready for college bowling?