Coaches Corner

Club coach Michael Wheal OAM has been asked to provide information that will assist members with many aspects of the game.  At any time, members can have a word with him or ask any long standing player for help.

Some matters regarding play.

The introduction to the Foreword of the Laws of the Sport of Bowls states that:
..players … must use their common sense and a spirit of fair play to decide on the appropriate course of action.

Rule 13.1 states that possession of the rink belongs to the player or team whose bowl is being delivered.

Rule 13.2 states that as soon as a bowl comes to rest, possession of the rink transfers to the opposing team after allowing time for a toucher to be marked and (Rule 17.4) a dead bowl to be removed.

If you have delivered a bowl you are entitled to stand at the mat until that bowl comes to rest.
Should you follow your bowl, when it comes to rest you must either be behind the head or behind the mat.

Rule 13.3 specifies the penalties to be imposed if the umpire decides that players in possession of the rink are being interfered with, annoyed or distracted in any way by their opponents.
This means that when you are at the head end and your opponents have possession it is your responsibility to be quiet and not moving within your opponent’s sight.

Should you be at the head end when an opponent is about to bowl it is your responsibility to not be in the head (Rule 12.1.2.2), silent and standing still away from the opponent’s line-of sight.

At the mat end, players not delivering a bowl must be at least one metre behind the mat (Rule 12.1.1).

At the head end, players who are not directing play must be:

  • behind the jack when their team is in possession of the rink or
  • behind the jack and away from the head when their team is not in possession of the rink.

There will be occasions when the director not in possession will be required to move, for example, to lift a bowl, to stop a bowl on the wrong bias or to stop a bowl driven from a neighbouring rink, but in general this player must be stationary.

What is required by the rules is that players at the head end and not in possession be quite unobtrusive.  Amongst other things this means that once your team’s bowl is at rest neither you nor your director is permitted, for example, to signal the distance to the jack until possession returns to your team.

Tuning your delivery

When the bowl goes where you want it to go your delivery is a natural movement and your mental state is calm.

When matters are not transpiring at the mat as you would wish then I would suggest:

  • waiting a few seconds behind the mat and taking a few deep breaths;
  • focusing on the line of delivery required, the weight needed and where the unimpeded bowl would finish;
  • stepping onto the mat along your intended line of delivery;
  • checking that heels, hips and shoulders are facing the line of delivery;
  • standing closer to the front of the mat when you wish to use less weight and closer to the back of the mat when you need to use more weight;
  • stepping along your line of delivery to just beyond the front of the mat;
  • whether your delivery is fluid or fixed, taking a step which enables your arm to swing comfortably with the amplitude which yields suitable weight for your shot;
  • observing the bowl until it comes to rest so that you see the adjustments required;
  • if you are to deliver another bowl on the current end, giving all of your attention to what it requires rather than conversing with team mates (unless you have asked one of them to observe you and, should you request it, give feedback or advice ).

New drill

Place four bowls in an arc about a mat length short of the jack

Bowl to draw around the outer bowls

Variations: forehand or backhand, attempt to bowl through a gap between the short bowls.

Here is a draw drill to practise….

Click to view graphic    Draw_drills_1

A drill for leaders

There are neural and physical links between the step and arm swing you use to deliver the jack and the step and arm swing you need to deliver a bowl close to it.

This drill is designed to help you establish those connections.

  • After some loosening-up and preliminary ends, proceed as follows.
  • Roll the jack medium length, centre it, or have someone centre it for you, and then deliver your four bowls to the jack. Whatever length you roll the jack, centre it and then deliver your four bowls to it.
  • Roll the jack long length, centre it and then deliver your four bowls to it.
  • Roll the jack short length, centre it and then deliver your four bowls to it.
  • Repeat this sequence several times.
  • For the first six ends, deliver your bowls on the one hand.
  • For ends seven and beyond, choose to continue on the same hand or the opposite hand or two bowls forehand then two backhand or alternate forehand then backhand.

When you are about to deliver a bowl

Once your opponent’s bowl has come to rest the mat is yours. Any players from the opposing rink must retire to a position out of your sight and remain silent until your bowl in course.  This includes the opposing director who is not permitted to distract you, for example, by moving within your line of sight.

Stand behind the mat and check the bowl your director is requesting: an indication only of forehand or backhand usually means that you should attempt to draw to the jack on that hand.

It is not always necessary that your next bowl should become the shot so the director could ask for a bowl at the back, perhaps on the line but also perhaps to the left or the right. If in doubt ask the question or even request the director to stand where the perfect bowl would finish so that you can try to bowl to that spot.

From prior knowledge, your practice immediately before the game, the trial ends and what might have happened earlier in the match you should be aware of the line on both hands.

Take your stance on the mat ensuring initially that your ankles, hips and shoulders are on lines perpendicular to the line along which you wish to deliver your bowl. This is one way of ensuring that you do not bowl across your body or from behind it, both of which can have you unbalanced as you release the bowl.

As you prepare to deliver the bowl, keep your eyes focussed on your aiming point which could be a spot on the green, a place on the bank or some other point you have chosen. After setting the bowl in course ensure that your hand points towards the aiming point.  This is one way of ensuring that you delivered the bowl in the direction you intended.  It also enables you to check that your intention, as opposed to your execution, was correct.  Even if you turn your back on the bowl you should turn again to observe it come to rest and start thinking about any corrections needed.

To bowl with more weight, as you set yourself, hold the bowl higher and stand further back on the mat but still step to the same point as before. This will give you a longer swing and release the bowl with higher speed.

Similarly, to bowl with less weight, as you set yourself, hold the bowl lower and stand closer to the front of the mat and still step to the same point as before. This will give you a shorter swing and release the bowl with lower speed.  Your arm should still follow through along your delivery line.

Your director can speak to you whilst your bowl is moving but once it has come to rest the head reverts to your opponents.