Troy’s Perfect Trey
After he bowled an unprecedented three straight perfect games in Corunna. Michigan, in 1993, Troy Ockerman credited heavy metal music, along with a need to prove himself, with his success. Who would suspect that arousal of this kind could be used to motivate a bowler? exercise physiologist Jack Raglins^
Here is Ockerman’s story. (His comments appear in italics.) Before his historic night of bowling, at home on an electric guitar, Ockerman thumped out a heavy metal song he’d composed himself a fast-paced, hard-driving song without a title, similar to the soundtrack from an action movie. Before a match, I like to get my adrenaline levels up. I try and get really hyped. Then, as he drove his car to the bowling alley, he listened to a tape he’d made ofthe song until the beat was playing automatically in his head thump, thump, thump. Little did Ockerman, a 24-year-old amateur bowler, realize he was on his way to a feat unparalleled in the history of the sport. But perhaps subconsciously he did. Over and over again in his mind and in his practice, he had prepared himself for this wonderful night.
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At the Riverbend Bowl, his motivation intensified when he looked up on the bulletin board for the scores of the tournament: it showed that Wayne Bunce was the King of the Hill for the month. He was better than Wayne Bunce, he told himself, but he kept finishing second to Bunce in tournaments. He got mad. Deep down, I knew I was better. I kept telling myself, I’m tired of finishing second. I’m better than him. But he’d have to go beyond himself to prove it to all their bowling colleagues in Corunna. But he knew he couldn’t get too pumped up. Whenever that happened, he’d throw the ball too hard down the alley and it would roll off target. So he kept in tune with the rhythm of the music in his head thump, thump, thump, rather than thump, THUMP, thump, THUMP. He had to be like Bruce Willis in Die Hard: be ready for anything, but do not smash through the condo window until you have to.
It was tempting not to go wild. All his life, the diminutive Ockerman had lots to prove to others physically; he stood only five-feet, four-inches tall. In school, he’d been too puny to play football. An only child, he’d chosen individual sports where he had only himself to rely on. As a teenager, he’d rushed to the aid of two friends who got jumped in a fight outside a bar. Now everybody called him Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil. The devil is short and thick, like me, with a big mouth and feisty.
There were other things to prove that night that he could beat two lefthanders whom he was scheduled to face before Bunce. Lefthanders worried Ockerman because they generally scored better because of oil conditions on the Riverbend alley. Before the bowling matches started, Ockerman went through a ritual designed to get him into a zone for the night. He kept listening to the soundtrack music he’d programmed into his head. It’s a trick that other athletes have used with great success.
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