Distractions rattle us; they happen in the snap of your fingers. It can make you quit, doubt your ability and confuse you. They get your mind off of the task at hand and when left to fester, can make you crazy. In extreme cases, make you a raving lunatic. They put you in the wrong place to solve the problem at hand and that's what ball, where to stand, how to throw. Sure easy house conditions have so much built in error that distractions don't come into play so much but when you're bowling when it counts, or on challenge or sport shots, they can do some heavy damage.
Sometimes they're physical. Ever bowl with a cold? Fever, chills, pain in your knees, elbow, wrist? If you haven't, consider yourself amazingly lucky. How about cuts on your thumb or blisters on your finger tips? I've seen some pretty ugly digits in my day. Hopefully from crazy numbers of games which will beat up the best of us. Adding skin protector or the newer skin protection tape to a hand surface that never used it before will change your feel. The thought of whether a ball is going to slip off your hand or stick can make you very tentative in your shot making . But what are the alternatives? Quit? That never a solution.
Perhaps you're feeling tired. It's probably going to sap some energy so your speed is a touch slow. Our ability to process the move, ball change may be lagging.
How about emotional. How do we deal with failure or worst, what if the people around us want to pile some more pressure on top or stoop to verbal abuse. Happens. More times than I want to say. Parents and close friends seem to feel it necessary to always put in their two cents. How can you deal with that distraction? Maybe just someone who thinks that when you're not bowling, it's the perfect time to talk about all sorts of topics; frivolous topics that have nothing to do with bowling.
Here's what we can do: Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. That's the unofficial mantra of the US Marine Corps. We take what we have and make the absolute best with it. They never quit and neither should you. Here's how:
If you're tired, sick or weak, assume that level of energy and line up for it. Sure the ball might be a touch weak for the condition or maybe you'll play a bit more inside that you normally would when you're fully healthy. You're weaker so maintain that level and adapt!
If your cut, patch it as best as possible. You'll probably have to spend time changing it often so plan for it. Find a hand position that allows you to be consistent. Never mind if it's not the perfect hand. Let the ball and alignment take care of that. The task is finding a way to finish. Deal with the situation and overcome it!
If it's conversational distraction, get out of dodge. That means don't put yourself in a position where someone can start talking to you. Stay near the lanes and away from those at that moment. Try not to be confrontational. Your job is bowling so bowl! This is not the time to fight with people. You're focus is on the game.
How about some other common mental distractions. Ever bowl with someone who is loud? How about slow? You can go crazy waiting for the bowler who takes SSSSSOOOOOO much time to bowl. Smokers are tough to deal with. They seem to get lost at the end of the game while they pop outside for a quick cigarette. Maybe someone who has just lost it and chucks the ball half way down the lane. Perhaps someone who cuts you off frequently. You know, you get into your stance and out of the corner of your eye, someone gets up and you're no longer locked on your target. Sometimes you cant stop and feel cheated that the poor execution wasn't your fault. Well, it was. Own it. How about the guy who pounds his chest yelling when a big strike happens. All these things happen all the time. Any one of them can get you out of your scoring mode. What should you do? If it happens once, assume it's gonna happen again. If the guy next to you seems to cut you off, give that person the right of way. Every frame. The Smoker? Assume the break and be surprised when it doesn't happen. The slow bowler is in control. If you like to bowl fast, probably from doubles leagues, then practice bowling slow. You can't and won't make them speed up so don't waste your time explaining why they're wrong. They're not.
If you're serious about this sport and work hard, there's ALWAYS a way. Truth is we can't always be 100% so we go into battle with all we've got. Steer clear of the worst thing of all, BLAME. Own up to the experience of the day. Find a way to practice it so that you won't get caught in that situation again. Now that's a mature way to attack and raise your level.
What is important is FOCUS - LINE UP AND EXECUTE. Whatever the distraction, there is a solution so stay calm and search for the solution. It may not be elegant, it may not be pretty but blowing a gasket, throwing your arms up, yelling, cursing and acting like an idiot isn't going to solve anything. Overcoming obstacles builds character and that's a mighty nice trait we should all strive for.