Wakefield Bowling Club Inc


The club is very fortunate to have three Bowls New Zealand accredited coaches available to provide coaching to all club memebers whether they be experienced or new bowlers. They also provide assistance to non bowlers at the club's community events and to folk who simply want to "Have a Go".

Our coaches have several key coaching foundations, they are:-


To help players improve their performance and enjoyment of playing bowls.


Coaches will maintain accreditation with Bowls New Zealand.

Coaches will follow the "New Zealand Coach Approach" and the Bowls New Zealand "New Zealand Way" while allowing for individual player's circumstances.


Coaching sessions will be held with specific topics, open to all members.
Individual coaching will be arranged with any member on request.
Encourage members to undertake goal setting, purposeful practice and regular review.
Encourage Club members to take coaching courses to gain skills in helping others.
Organised coaching sessions are run, usually on Friday mornings early in the season or, as required by members. These sessions include a wide range of topics including:-
- Preparation routine for and delivery techniques.
- Acieving line and weight.
- Selecting the right shot to play.
- Winning stratergies.

One on one coaching is also conducted as required by members or for members identified by coaches where coaching is likely to lift performance or correct delivery problems.
The dates and times of these training sessions are detailed on club notice board or by arrangement.

Coaching Tips

Coaching tip #1 Pre Shot Routine

To get set both physically and mentally before the delivery of each bowl.
Compare with a rugby player taking a kick for goal or a tennis player getting ready to serve.
Before stepping onto the mat.
"Switch on", put aside any distractions. Take your time to prepare for the shot.
Take advice from the skip if in a team game. Be clear in the shot you want to play.
Choose your line and visualise the bowl travelling to where you want it to finish.
Take a breath and relax your neck/shoulder muscles as you breathe out.
Now you are ready to step onto the mat and deliver!

Coaching tip #2 Delivery

Once you have the shot to be played clear in your mind and visualised the bowl's path (PSR), step onto the mat.
Place feet in the same position every bowl, feet pointing down the intended line, shoulders and hips square to the line.
Pendulum swing along the line, keep elbow and wrist straight, release bowl at the lowest point of the swing when arm is vertical. Bowl speed will be determined by the length of the swing and "feel".
Follow through with the arm along the line, "palm to the sky", stay low, step forward along the line.
"Low, slow, flow".
Straight lines all the way. "Let the bowl do the work".

Coaching tip #3 Consistency

To get a consistent result, there needs to be a consistent delivery. Do the same every time.
Reduce variability as much as is within your control.
Repetitive purposeful practice leads to "muscle memory" and more consistency.
Pre shot routine, body alignment and delivery technique as in previous tips.
Try to get in a rhythm, "in the zone" and on automatic (Rupert as in Peter Bellis' book).
Avoid distractions, overthinking and especially negative thoughts (Wally).
There is a copy of Peter Bellis' book in the Club.
Know your and your team's favoured mat placement and jack length.
Find your preferred side of the rink early in a game and stick with it unless something changes, play up and down the same side of the rink as much as possible to reduce variations

Coaching tip #4 Adapting From One Shot to the Next

This follows well from the previous article on consistency.
Nobody can be 100% consistent so need to adjust from one bowl to the next. Top players will be 60+% consistent and will inevitably correct for the next bowl. I once coded a game of singles where the player had over 80% effective bowls - that is exceptional.
In order to adjust for your next bowl, it is necessary to understand how the previous bowl ended as it did. If the result was as intended, great - do exactly the same again!
If it went astray, be aware of why that may have happened, did the bowl come out correctly? did it go down the line you intended? did you do something different with your delivery? eg. common faults: falling off balance, swinging arm across the body, rotating wrist, standing up too soon.
Understanding this will reduce the risk of overcorrecting.
Once you have identified the cause, focus on your delivery for the next bowl. Learn from the previous one then forget about it.
Consistent delivery technique will give more consistent results so work on this.
"Switch on'' with your pre shot routine.
"Rupert" will set your brain on auto (Peter Bellis).
"The most important bowl in a game is the one in your hand".

Coaching tip #5 Building the Head

Following on from the tips on individual play, we now consider team play.
Each end should be considered as a game as itself within the full game. While the aim is to score as many points as possible it is not necessary to win every end in order to win the overall game. Gain as many points as you can and keep the opposition from scoring multiples.
Second shot is always a good bowl, 2 seconds is even better.
There are several components to building a head. These apply to any format of the game though for this purpose I will describe a game of fours or each individual bowl in a game of singles. These are generalizations and there may be exceptions particularly taking note of the scoreboard situation and the conditions.
1.  Delivery of the jack can be crucial in winning or losing a game and can create a momentum shift either for or against you. Know what is your team's favourite mat placement and jack length, discuss this before the game starts. If you are going well, keep it the same; if the opposition is doing well, change something whenever you get the mat.
A good practice is to deliver the jack to a set lentgth and draw to it with 2 bowls..
2.  Lead and two (1st and 2nd bowls in singles) should build the foundation on which a good head will result.
Lead should aim to get 2 bowls as close to the jack as possible. (In a 3 bowl game, two on the jack and one behind is ideal; in 3 bowl pairs the lead's 3rd bowl may occasionally need to be attacking). As a general rule play up and down the same side of the rink as this will enable more consistency but be aware of when to change if it is not working or if conditions change.
Player two will support the lead, draw to the jack if needed to get the shot and/or add to the count or play positional bowls as directed by the skip. Two should always aim to have bowls behind the jack either to defend if you are up on the head or give the three and skip the opportunity to attack if down on the head. Occasionally the skip may ask the two to attack.
Short bowls rarely come into play later in the head, back bowls can be useful.
3.  Player three (3rd bowl in singles) may have to add to the count, play positional bowls or attack as directed by the skip. The three will support the lead and two and reinforce the team's game plan. The three and skip will confer to be clear on the shots to be played, three should allow the skip to play their shot without interference as skip will have just left the head and have the shot in mind. If the head has changed, three should describe the situation, "draw a picture" for the skip and let the skip decide on the shot to play.
If a team plays together often, they will get to understand each other's game.
4.  Skip should decide the mat/jack combination on each end as previously planned with the team, direct each team member as to the shot to play bearing all the above factors in mind and encourage the team with positivity (be aware of the effects of body language). Skip should decide what shot to play before leaving the head, depending on the situation of that end and the overall scoreboard, may need to draw to the jack, defend or attack the head.
Each player in a team has an equally important role to play.
Aim to score on each end but if cannot then avoid going down by more than 1 shot each end.
The more bowls a team has around the head and behind, the more chances for a good result.

Coaching tip #6 Shot Selection

There are 4 types of shot:
1.  Draw - to the jack, to an off centre jack or as a positional bowl
2.  Controlled forcing shot - 1 metre through the head to trail the jack or rest on bowls.
3 . Firm forcing shot - 2 metres on or "ditch weight" to move bowls or the jack.
4.  Drive.
Draw is the basic shot for all bowls and the most frequently required.
Forcing shots are similar to draw but visualising for the bowl to finish at a point behind the head as with a positional bowl but through the head (skip can help by marking the point e.g. "draw to my foot"). It takes practice to adjust the balance of speed and line required.
Drive is a low percentage shot except for those who have practiced a lot and can be risky. It requires stability of body position on delivery and follow through down the intended line (as do all shots but especially so for the drive).
The lead and two will draw to the jack or behind as discussed previously to "build the head".
Lead should generally play up and down the same side of the rink to reduce variation and increase consistency; work out early in the game which side of the rink you prefer.
Second should wait for the skip's directions and play accordingly.
If you hold the shot, draw to add to the count, aim to have 2 shots close to the jack then you may be asked to play for position, behind the jack on either side as directed by the skip.
If up on the head, "take green" so that your bowl stays on that side of the centre line (crossing the centre line could give away the advantage by hitting the jack or your shot bowl).
If down on the head, draw for second shot and preferably 2 seconds.
Short bowls rarely come into play later in the end, back bowls can be useful.
Three and skip will make decisions depending on how the head develops and taking account of the scoreboard:
If the team is holding shot, they may choose to add to the count, play a positional bowl to defend (take green as above) or occasionally may wish to move the head around to reduce the opposition's options.
If down on the head, they may choose to draw to cut down the opposition count or play an attacking shot. If down, your bowl must "reach the head" in order to make a difference.
Choosing which shot to play is all about benefit vs risk; look for the shot with the most options for a positive result and consider what could go wrong, e.g. what would happen if you play an attacking shot and take out your own bowls or if you move the jack but have no back bowls.
If you are up on the scoreboard, you can be more defensive or if down on the board some risk may be justified.

Coaching tip #7 Purposeful Practice

When you come to practice, always have a specific aim of what to achieve from the session rather than just roll up and down the rink. It may be a focus on a particular aspect of your delivery, line taking, speed control or a specific type of shot. Be aware of what events you will be playing in and the role you will be playing and target the practice to that.
Measure how you perform for future comparison and improvement.
If you want advice on specific drills or scoring systems, please contact one of the coaches.


Thanks to our Coaching Convenor Tony Eames for providing the above tips.

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