A week ago today I went to the bowling alley for the first time in approximately 12 years – in part to demonstrate to a client how visualization in action works.
The last time I bowled was in China, wherein I hit my best-ever mark of 181, with an all-or-nothing style of throwing strikes with minimal technical skill. When I bowl, I view my mission as straightforward and simplistic – cause an eruption when the ball whacks the pins.
From the first time I picked up a bowling ball to the present, I’ve played in less than 100 games and have received zero instruction regarding technique, set-up, approach, how to hold the ball or how to deliver a hook.
In fact, until last week, the thought of taking up the sport with gusto and enthusiasm never occurred to me. I was completely oblivious to the obvious; people actually purchase their own balls and shoes and bags and compete all over the whirld in this sport. It’s no different than golf, baseball and all these other endeavors people are attracted and addicted to playing.
Yet, my perceptions were dramatically altered when I called my friend, Will, after playing three games, to give him the report. The first game was a throwaway; a warmup. I didn’t even crack the three-figure mark, bowling a measly 94.
Then I got seriously involved, psychologically and physiologically speaking.
I took my time and focused on my preparatory alignments, getting into a tai chi type of position wherein I started focusing on my feet and worked northward. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, I formed a gigantic mental image of what I wanted: a strike.
I pictured every single pin being shattered into submission as I breathed life into the core of my physicality.
Then I glissaded across the floor and unleashed a torrential outpouring of “fury.”
What a difference a thought makes – especially a high-voltage thought such as the one I was ruminating on in my imagination.
I threw six strikes in the second game and five in the third. That’s eleven strikes in total – after having only one in the first game.
Was I visualizing in the first game? Was I using the powers of my imagination? Was I breathing deeply?
Most certainly not the way I was in games dos and tres.
I was going through the motions and mechanics of what I thought would work. Yet, the reality is, at the end of the day, technique will only get you part of the way to your goal. It won’t take you all the way. As Albert Einstein reported, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
In my conversation with Will after the games, when he heard I bowled a 176, he remarked, “And that was with a house ball and shoes that 1,000 people have already worn. Just think what you’ll do when you get your own custom drilled ball, your own shoes….”
Will planted an idea in my imagination I’d never considered before. What would happen if I got my own ball and shoes? What about getting some instruction, as well?
I can tell you from experience, and from what I’ve observed of coaches in all sports and physical endeavors – any instruction I receive will be entirely physical. It’ll be all about the mechanics, the physics, the structure of the ball and the dynamics at play. If the psycho-physical part of the game is covered at all, I’ll be delighted as well as surprised.
Most coaches actually believe that excellence is simply a matter of proper mechanics and genetics.
Mechanics and genetics are factors that may influence your success but they are NOT all they’re cracked up to be, either.
Epi-genetics can trump genetics in cases that appear hopeless. And when it comes to mechanics, although helpful and useful, consider this: My friend, Will, is a mollydooker (Australian for Lefty) and he bowled a perfect game (300 score) with his weight on the wrong foot when he released the ball.
Then he got taught the “right” way and was never the same until he went back to doing it the way that came naturally for him.
This doesn’t mean that mechanics coaches are always wrong – but they are almost always off target with their body-only approach. When you make the physical body the most significant aspect of what is going on – you’ve neglected the bowling ball shaped apparatus on the top of your neck that really holds the keys to the kingdom.
If this is not the case, then how do people without hands learn to play the piano? How do people without arms learn to shoot the bow and arrow? How do people with stumps for all four limbs learn to wrestle?
It’s an intangible, mostly indecipherable quality that is not easily quantifiable. Call it heart. Call it desire. Call it intention. Call it imagination. Call it will power. Call it all of the above.
Whatever you choose to name it – you cannot see it – but you can most definitely observe the uncanny results it creates.
Be it. Do it. Live it.
P.S. Make sure you retrieve a copy of Psycho-Cybernetics, Updated and Expanded – then begin the implementation of your visualization skills in a positive manner by working on a game or skill with numbers that prove the techniques are working.