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Thoughtful bowling

When I first started playing bowls 50 years ago, my coach said that bowls is aboutgetting your bowl to bend into the jack by doing everything in a straight line (writes Allen Harvey, World Bowls coaching advisory panel member).

What he meant was that if the feet are pointing in the direction that you want the bowl to take and that your arm comes straight through the line that you wish the bowl to travel then all should be well.
Line taking
When delivering a bowl, you should always be looking along the line you wish to take (not at the jack or target).
The other message was line is physical and speed is mental. However, there are certain physical techniques we can use to help with speed control. I was encouraged the use of the pendulum swing. If you are playing with too much bowls speed, you should lower your arm and if you are playing short you should raise the arm in the address position.
When I first started playing, there was no such thing as coaching schemes and when I attended my first coaching course way back in the dark ages, I was interested to note that the content was very similar to what the man who coached me in the beginning had put me through.
As a coach, I like to ask the bowler at whatever level they play to control their bowl and to apply proper thought to any situation that they find themselves in.
There are numerous coaching techniques that can be used to help the bowler reach a successful conclusion to playing various shots.
Basically, it comes to the line that the bowler needs to take combined with the correct speed for the bowler to achieve the desired result.
Below I have a very simple diagram which shows the line that needs to be taken for the draw.
Bowlers use various parts of the line as their sight line. Usually part 1 (black) or 2 (blue).
If the bowler uses their usual routine initially and then picks the spot where they want their bowl to enter the head (3 red) and then looks back to the crown (2 Blue) of the bend, they should gain more accuracy.
Some players like to pick a spot along the initial delivery line one (black) and if this suits a player then this should not be altered.
It will help them judge speed if they look to the red and blue parts of the line before they look at the spot, they are using to find their line.
The same thought process applies to the backhand.
Head building and tactics
Careful thought should also be applied to reading and building a head.
When it comes to reading the head, a player should first consider the area surrounding the jack (black border). If they have only one bowl in the head, consider drawing another bowl into the head.
They should then look behind the head (red border) as in almost all cases the jack if moved will travel in that direction. They should consider if there are areas where they are vulnerable and ask themselves is
cover required.
If the jack is touching or very near to a bowl, then what direction will the jack travel if the bowl is hit causing the jack to move.
They should then look to the front of the head (blue border) to see what routes are available or to perhaps consider a blocking bowl.
Players should also consider where they are in the game and the score.
The shot may be different If it is early in the game than you would play at the end of the game.
Bowls is not a physical game and if the bowler can maintain proper thought processes, then they should be able to maintain a reasonable standard of play.
I have been using the techniques and thought processes taught to me by Jack Clarke (my first coach) and I have found 50 years on, that they have stood me in good stead.
I hope that this will show the bowler no matter what level they play, the importance of good technique and good thought processes.

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