Lawn Bowls Coaching

Rob Judson's Archive


I wrote the material on the web pages listed below about 15 years below while a member of the RQBA coaching committee. None of the material is copyright, and readers may freely use it as they see fit. Approaching age 86, I no longer bowl or coach, or be qualified to update my material wherever it might be warranted. Some of the pages are rather large interactive worksheets, which would be unwieldy on the small screen of a smartphone, but manageable in a notebook or desktop PC.

For a long time, I have given little thought to any aspect of lawn bowling. However, I recently (31-Oct-15) decided to note the following suggestions about accurate delivery of a bowl to a jack. I did this, because I felt that some traditional concepts that have been given to novices are misleading and unhelpful.

Most of us are familiar with the simple act of tossing a ball of paper into a waste basket. Our brain visualises the extent to which the air will retard the paper ball and we project the paper ball with sufficient speed to reach the mouth of the target basket. We optimise accuracy by visualising and aiming toward the centre point of the circular rim of the target, so that the paper ball drops cleanly inside. A dart player similarly aims at a dart board, except that a dart follows a flatter trajectory and at sufficient speed so that it lodges into the vertical board. A golfer putts a ball in a direction that overcomes any uneven levels of the green, and at sufficient speed to overcome the friction of the green and reach the cup with a little momentum to spare.

In none of these or equivalent tasks should the performer give conscious thought to the geometry of the delivery movement. The brain should visualise, mentally rehearse and control the execution of accurate movement. Adopting an instinctive ''feel" for the required force and direction of action is neuro-muscular activity.

Beginner lawn bowlers are commonly taught to adopt a cognitive approach to bowl delivery. Conscious control of delivery speed by adjusting the arc of the delivery arm - the so-called Theory of Elevation - is widely advocated. It likens arm action to that of a pendulum. Muscular force from the shoulder is discounted, if not ignored altogether. Also conscious control of bowl delivery direction by meticulous foot placement is also widely advocated. Precise placement of the feet is commonly stressed - whereby the anchored 'back' foot is said to cause the 'front' foot to advance precisely in the direction of delivery. However, careful observation and measurement of apparently-random variations in step placement and angling of the front foot suggests that delivery line errors should be larger than those that actually occur. Mental control of the delivery arm's action tends to offset some footwork variability. Bowlers using a cognitive approach tend often to fidget and appear distracted during delivery preparation. Their minds are fully engaged in various internal and environmental considerations. Without a 'feel' for an effective delivery, uneven acceleration and flicking of the delivery arm is often apparent. Furthermore, the random or premature movement of head, trunk and limbs often destabilises the delivery posture. It becomes obvious that the brain is being denied its proper role.

Expert bowlers tend to calmly and confidently position themselves for delivery. Their delivery action is fluid and intense concentration is generally apparent. They give no thought to the geometry of body movement. As the delivery arm accelerates smoothly from a steady shoulder, the rest of the body forms a stable, supporting framework for that fulcrum. Their minds are fixated on the perfect delivery, which they can 'feel' or 'sense' throughout the movement. Until the mind becomes trained so that intent synchronises with movement, bowler improvement may be a protracted or hopeless cause.

Web Pages

Lawn Bowls Coaching is a 133-page manual . It is a downloadable file in PDF format which may be printed for convenient reading. Most of the offerings below are largely enlargements of concepts in the manual.

FAQs about Participation comments on beginning and developing bowling skill, and how of club coaches can help.

Basic Bowling offers pointers that enlarge on the manual's coverage of bowl delivery technique.

"Dumped" Bowl Delivery is a technique fault whereby the bowl is dropped onto the green, possibly with damaging consequences.

Technique Check List is a printable bowling technique marking sheet on which a coach can record either improvements of a novice bowler over time or the observed performance of members of a bowler squad.

Uses of a Chute offers ways in which a bowl testing chute can be used in a coaching session to demonstrate aspects of delivery technique and tactics.

Using the Mat uses simple animations to illustrate the scope for marginal changes in the delivery point to change the pathway into a head by a delivered bowl.

Team Preparation suggests ways in which club coaches could help raise the competitive ability of representative teams.

Psychology in Lawn Bowling is an 11-page document, also in PDF file format. It largely comprises notes for presentation of a bowler psychology awareness session of 1-2 hours duration. It largely expands on the concepts in pages 93-106 of the manual..

Body Mass Index & Daily Energy Demands is an interactive worksheet for calculating BMI and energy requirements.

Thoughts on Retirement are some reflections on the coaching role as the elderly author retired.

Most bowlers agree that the primacy of successful bowling is the ability of delivering bowls to scoring positions: i.e. accurate "draw" shot bowling. To this end, the author developed a "40-bowl Test". (The Lawn Bowls Coaching manual expands on the concepts to which the following web pages refer).

Outline for 40-bowl Testing indicates the procedure for a bowler being tested and for an assistant marking results of each bowl delivery.

Scoring FAQs for 40-bowl Testing offers more-comprehensive guidance for assistants in scoring results of each delivery.

40-bowl Test Result Calculator is an interactive worksheet for entry of 40-bowl test scores and automatic calculation of results.

The original form of the foregoing test focussed purely on distances between bowl finishing points and the jack. It produced no data on whether there was a tendency to finish short or long, or wide or narrow. A simple protractor (page 69 of the Lawn Bowls Coaching manual) was devised for measuring finishing point angles, and the test was modified to include this data.

Outline for Bowling Accuracy Testing describes the development of the foregoing 40-bowl test into a more-comprehensive form of test.

Bowling Accuracy Test Result Calculator is an interactive worksheet for entry of bowling accuracy test scores and automatic calculation of results.