Kennard-Dale bowling coach emphasizes mental aspect of game

Barry Sparks
For The York Dispatch

Kennard-Dale bowling coach Joel Logan spent part of his summer reading more than a dozen books about the mental aspect of sports.

Among the books he read were "Mental Toughness for Young Athletes" by Troy and Moses Horne, "The Champion's Mind" by Jim Afremow, "Bowling Psychology" by Dean Hinnitz and "The Art of Resilience" by Ross Egley.

"As a lifelong bowler, I've developed my mental game," said Logan, who has competed in Professional Bowling Association (PBA) events. "But, many of my bowlers are non-traditional athletes. They're competing for the first time. They don't have the experience in developing their mental game."

Kennard-Dale bowling coach Joel Logan is emphasizing the mental side of the game with the Rams this season.

Kennard-Dale lost six seniors to graduation and returned just two bowlers to the varsity team, juniors Casey Jones and Nick Gaumer. Sensing a disconnect among himself and his bowlers, Logan sought out books to help him teach his team the mental skills needed for success.

Most successful bowlers have a strong mental game. PBA Hall of Famer Earl Anthony said all bowlers on the PBA Tour had the physical game to win, but only 10% had the mental game required to win. The mental game is often the separating factor.

"Most of my bowlers didn't know how to control their emotions, bounce back from a bad frame or visualize their success," Logan said. "Mentally, they lacked confidence."

Without a strong mental game, bowlers can easily spiral out of control, according to Logan. A bad frame or a bad game can lead to getting angry, beating yourself up, overthinking or shutting down emotionally.

"It's like getting trapped in quicksand," he said. "Bowlers have to learn to be solution-focused, not problem-focused." 

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Juniors Gaumer and Jones have benefited from Logan's emphasis on the mental aspect of the game.

"I didn't realize how important the mental game was," admitted Gaumer, who has experienced first-hand the benefits of a stronger mental game. "I used to get down on myself. Now I'm more focused, taking every game frame-by-frame. Instead of getting upset, I think, 'What could I have done better?'"

Although Jones recognized that developing his mental game was the first building block toward a solid foundation, Logan helped him accelerate the process.

"I try to minimize my thoughts," Jones said. "I think positively instead of negatively. And that has helped me."

The rebuilding Rams were 3-5 in York-Adams League play entering this week, placing them fifth out of seven teams. But Logan sees plenty of progress and believes the future is bright.

"As a team, I think we've made significant inroads this season in improving our mental game," Logan said. "We're a grittier team. We're more determined, resilient and focused. So much of success on the lanes is between your ears."