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The Coveted ‘Hot Hand’ and What You Need to Do to Develop One – June 2009 – Par Bowling by Tom Kouros

IF YOU ARE A COMMITTED BOWLER who has practiced the craft over a number of years, then most likely you have experienced that precious gift from the bowling gods known more popularly as “the hot hand.” This is a state of recurrent execution where you can do no wrong, at least within the bounds of human endeavor. Let’s elaborate.
The mental aspect in every sport plays a critical role in deciding who manages to achieve their potential and who never quite gets it together. Know that the closer one’s physical prowess approaches maximum efficiency, the more important the mental aspect becomes. The physical skills of bowling may require the initial attention, but you are not going to become a par bowler until you spend time absorbing the important rudiments of the mental aspect.
Generally, the mental aspect makes up about 65 percent of a par bowler’s game, a percentage that would not apply to a bowler with less ability. For example, a bowler averaging 160 might have a game that is 75 percent physical and only 25 percent mental. As you climb the average charts, so does the mental ratio of your game.
The mental game consists of three parts: knowledge, concentration and attitude — the same elements that comprise 65 percent of what it takes to be a par bowler.
Indeed, listen to a triumphant pro after a grand victory: “I figured out where to play the lanes (knowledge), was constantly aware of my ball placement (concentration), while keeping an aggressive mind set (attitude).” This describes the mental aspect’s role at work.
Each of us is a product of habits; i.e., subconscious acts. Practicing the right techniques develops good habits. On the other hand, practicing wrong things develops bad habits, which are not easily corrected. That is why early instruction is so critical. It not only accelerates the learning process, but also helps avoid the pitfalls of bad habits. Practice trains your subconscious. In fact, when you practice, you are striving to develop “muscle memory” because the subconscious performs far more efficiently than the plodding cortex. Keep in mind that you are mainly concerned with transferring cerebral thought into subconscious knowledge. By extension, be careful not to over think when competing.
Optimally, approximately 85 percent of your shot should be made with the subconscious.Again, this rule applies only in competition. When practicing, strongly engage your consciousness.

The many variables of execution in an optimum performance can be administered only by the subconscious; i.e., muscle memory can ideally orchestrate all of these variables in their proper order, timing and degree.
In the widest spectrum of analysis, the game can be played on a platform of rational information, or on an intuitive and instinctive one. Yes, bowlers with outstanding games make great shots without being able to satisfactorily explain what they are doing. However, they sense its effectiveness via “feel,” which is a vague form of knowledge. When this happens, they are identified as having the “hot hand.”
In this modern world, cars roll down highways on cruise control, garage doors open when a particular car comes within 50 feet and jumbo jet planes automatically land themselves via computers. And the bowler with a “hot hand” is not much different. His game is on “automatic,” and like Ivory Soap, his game is 99 percent pure... subconscious. Characteristically, this bowler will shy away from rational analysis. Many years ago, the great left-hander Bill Allen had the hot hand, and as I started to say something about his game, he screamed, “Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me! I’m bowling great!”
Typically it doesn’t last long, usually only a couple of months. But while it is in play, having a “hot hand” is like saying there’s a Doberman on the premises.
Posted with permission from Bowlers Journal International

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