Hands up if you want a game of bowls! Image: Contributed

Yamba men’s bowls: Are you feeling lucky?

In preparation for the imminent easing of some COVID related restrictions that currently prevent any activity on the club’s greens, we need to position ourselves to be able to launch back into action. This preparation may also include a practice regime to ensure that we can get back into the game in the best possible form following our enforced hiatus. One way to manage this is by developing a practice schedule and plan that we can implement as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Too many bowlers practice or roll-up to the same length each session over and over again or they just have a fun game with a mate or two. However, every training session should have a goal of improving either your technical, physical or tactical game. One of the many types of practice sessions designed to improve your game is ‘situational practice’. In situational practice, you need to imagine game situations, and the deliveries you need to bowl will change depending on the situation or scenario within which you are practicing.

One situation to practice is if you were down five shots with three ends to play. Deciding and producing these shots in practice is great, as it saves mental energy when you get into this situation in a real game. Place the jack – and if you can find a spare set of bowls or a set of targets – place the imaginary opponents bowls down to build the head. Place the mat where you would normally do in this situation – this could be a short or long mat for example. Bowl as you would want to play. This could include aggressive driving shots, conversion shots or accurate draw shots.

Another situation is to practice covering back bowls. In this example place your imaginary opponent’s bowls on the green. We want to imagine you need to “cover” them in case of jack movement. You can make this as easy or tricky as you like. For example, you can group them together, or you can spread them out. You could keep them close to the centre line, or move them wide, so you have to adjust your line.

A situation that every skip is not terribly fond of is the need to draw around shots. A head with a bunch of short bowls blocking draw paths. This is a great one to practice as it is a very common situation (at least at the level at which I play, and I must admit that I contribute significantly to such scenarios). Getting used to delivering with bowls in your eyeline – especially those at an incorrect weight – is tricky. Often bowls naturally group together and getting your mind to ignore these bad bowls is important to fix such situations. To set this up place a jack down and the two short bowls on each hand (four in total). Then try to draw within a mat length of the jack. Play two shots on the forehand and then two on the backhand.

I hope to see you back on the greens trying some of these meaningful practice techniques in the very near future. The great golfer Gary Player once said, “the more I practice the luckier I get!”. So, lets get lucky.

Please continue to do the right thing, observe restrictions, get vaccinated, stay safe and we will all be back on the greens in the near future.

Don Freeman