This section is a resource for club coaches and individual players. Dr. John Aveline, past provincial head umpire and international competitor, has compiled a series of sources and suggestions for players to improve their knowledge of the game, and their level of playing skill.
Long Term Athlete Development Resource
Bowls Canada has issued to all clubs a booklet sub-titled Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD). This is an initiative from Sport Canada and it has led to the creation of one of the best reads connected the sport of Lawn Bowls. You have got to get your hands on this booklet and read it cover-to-cover (only 43 pages and lots of really good photos).
Here are a few fabulous quotes from the booklet that we can all take to heart (and out on to the greens):
clubs are central to the long-term development of bowlers
a club level player is called a "Club Competitor" who focuses "on skill development as a means to enjoy the game and to competently participate in club events as a way to enjoy the full range of social and competitive aspect of bowls."
at certain stages, developing technical skills takes precedence over competition
if athletes are constantly playing to win, there is little time to practice technical or tactical skills
at the 'Learn to Bowls' stage (teaching newbies the sport) coaches should include: controlling length when throwing the jack, basic stretching before play, psychological preparation, anxiety control
at the end of the 'Learn to Bowl' stage the standard of a new bowler practicing should be successfully throwing the jack 100% of the time and getting with 3 metres 70% of the time
when a new bowler has learned the basics of lawn bowls "he or she is a social bowler enjoying the social aspects of practicing and playing a game" (yes, you read that right - practice is part of the sport, even for a social bowler)
LTAD considers the best interests of the athlete, not the goals of coaches or parents who might simply want to win at all costs. LTAD is built on sport science and best practices in coaching from around the world.
Bowls Canada Boulingrin, in partnership with Sport Canada, has developed a bowls specific LTAD framework that aims to define optimal training, competition and recovery throughout an athletes career to enable him / her to reach his / her full potential in Lawn Bowls and as an athlete.
The LTAD can be found here: https://bowlscanada.com/en/programs-resources/bowler-development/
Team Canada had an Australian coach under contact to train the National Team Coach - Lachlan Tighe. Since we have access to some of his coaching material, it only seems right to share it with those of you (V&D members and others) who visit our web-site. Lachlan has developed quite a bit of material which focuses on getting players to make the full range of shots and to make them more consistently.
Lachlan Tighe has a website with all kinds of bowls tips - https://www.lachlantighebowls.com
Training Assessments - a series of practice drills which you can try out (keep score if you're really hard-core)
The Caterpillar - this one's tough, but I suspect that's why it works
Training vs Playing
Most of us when we bowl are playing a game. A few are a bit more focused and actually practice to try and get better. But how many of us train to become better bowlers? I'm guessing almost no one. I've found that the standard approach to improving is "Just get out there and play". You take your lumps, but that's how you learn." One possible answer to that is "Kids play games; athletes train!" And that's true. A PGA (or LPGA) golfer goes out and hits 500 2-iron shots so that they are accurate 95% of the time. Then, when they have to use that club in a tournament, they know their chances of making the shot are excellent. So, why don't we do that? Nothing more than habit. Some might find practice boring and a few might simply not have the time, but mainly it's habit.
Now those who do practice have an edge, but do they get full advantage of this practice? Probably not. Most people (and I'm one of these), when they do practice, just try to draw all of their bowls to the jack (and I bet it is a 3/4 length jack). They are training, but they're training for one specfiic shot and that's its. It would be like a golfer practicing nothing accept hitting a driver off the tee.
What the really smart bowlers are starting to do is train. Practicing different shots at different lengths. Having some structure to their practice, so they can keep track of what shots at what lengths they are playing well (useful to know in the midst of a game) and what shots need more work.
So, if you really want to play better bowls (and that's always fun), don't just play games and don't just throw draws. Try a bit of training.
Training Exercises for a team
It's interesting that there are four different positions; most of us tend to play only one (or two) of those positions. The positions are very different both in terms of the types of shots required, but also the type of person who best plays them. And yet, when we practice (if we practice), we all go through the same routine. But the skips should not be throwing the same practice bowls as the leads.
Each position should have its own practice routine, tailored to its needs. And so, here are four practices, each set up for the fours different positions. Thanks to the past coach of the Canadian National Team (aka High Performance Team) Lachlan Tighe for these tips.
Just click on the position name to get the right practice for you!
One final word. Here is a piece of advice that will get you better results, guaranteed!! Practice either maximum length jacks or minimum length jacks and then play whichever of these lengths you are having the better success with. Why? Everyone always plays 3/4 length, so everyone is fairly good at that. But hardly anyone plays maximum or minimum lengths, so the consistency and comfort are going to be lower. That means the door is open. If you practice, say, minimum lengths (and, of course that includes rolling the jack), you'll get pretty good - better than your opponents who never play or practice minimum length. And since you have to keep the jack when you win the end, you can grind away at your favourite length. Try it! Good luck!