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Bowls In Focus : December 2009
38 Bowls In Focus asics bowls shoes now available Coloured Bowls Trackpants and Shorts Coloured Slough Hats Coloured Polar Fleece Vests Coloured Baseball Caps Coloured Bucket Hats Call us for a quote on club orders. Coloured pants from $37, Vests from $37, hats from $13 SHOP ONLINE www.thebowlsshoppe.com.au A Jewel In The Crown Over the years I have sought the knowledge of players who have ex- celled in specific positions, so some of the ideas put forward in this article are not necessarily my own and I par- ticularly refer to the position of lead. As confessed in previous columns, to my great regret, I didn't play lead at any level until I lead for Australia (a real selection blunder). But I certainly studied almost all the expert leaders over the last four decades and soon learned that those first two bowls on each end will set the pattern of play for the day. Successful sides I have skippered over the years have, without excep- tion, consisted of a very good and consistent leader. Important aspects that a prospective top lead should follow: • Roll-up: Don’t waste this exercise by talking too much. Concentrate on finding rhythm - this will quickly gives you the pace of the green. Select the best side of the green to play - shy away from playing around the clock (both backhands or both forehands) - stay with one side of the green, you'll find it more consistent and it will teach you to bolster any weakness you have on a particular hand. One of the vital changes brought about by today's tighter drawing bowl is a greater choice of hands when there is reasonable to strong crosswind. In earlier times we would almost always choose the narrow hand but when the wind is gusty or not excessively wide, one may find the wide hand kinder and easier to manage. • Rolling the jack: Deliver the jack with the same care and attention you wouldabowl-useitasafirstbowlto get the pace of the green. • Plan of the day: Having selected the best side of the green to play, confirm your preference with the skip. Don’t ask to change your hand during play unless it is absolutely necessary - there is great merit in playing the hand on which you are familiar. Check your skip's requirements re- garding length of jack required. Also check where he/she wants the mat placed in subsequent ends - person- ally I request the leader select a mark on the side bank at each end and place the mat in the same position each time, unless a change of tactics is required. • Leader’s goal: Your job is to get your two bowls as near to the jack as possible. The one exception is that if your first bowl is more than half a metre short, try and place your second just past the jack, thus avoid- ing disaster if the opposing second or third trails the jack. It’s not necessarily your job to get the shot, it’s more im- portant at this early stage of the end that you get bowls in the head. Don’t be tempted to niggle at the head - it could cost your team dearly. • Team Game: You may be beating your opponent but your side is los- ing, so don't be upset if the skipper decides to change your hand in an endeavour to change the face of the game. • Concentration: You have six or seven minutes to fill in between your turns to bowl. Don’t fall into the trap of watching play on other rinks. Form a plan that allows you to closely follow your own rink but also set aside a minute or so for relaxation - tension can creep in during a long game. Arrange with your second and third to pick up one another's bowl, and in doing so, pass on some form of encouragement, which can even contain a slice of humour to ease that dreaded tension. Such actions help to engender good team spirit. • Practice: In addition to honing your skills at rolling the jack I suggest you should try placing a bowl in the draw (about a metre short of the jack) and practice drawing around and under the offending bowl. Changing your feet position on the mat will help you achieve your objective. • Summary: The late Don Wool- nough, who played more than 300 games for Victoria - almost all as lead - would average changing his hand once in 25 ends. He believed that the best way to generate self-confidence was to use his opponent's bowl as a guide to draw around, or occasionally under and still fnish close to the jack. Another great leader, David Grant, devised an idea whereby he broke his matches into lots of five ends. As- sessing his results from the previous five ends and attempting to improve on his next five. This is an excellent way to maintain full concentration over 25 ends, a difficult task at any time. This strategy can be used suc- cessfully by other members of the team also. More recently, another wonderful former Victorian representative Steve Sullivan from Queenscliff, retired after playing over 300 superb state games and all as a leader. A top class lead is a blue chip asset and Steve was one of the best ever. The performance of a leader on any given day will dictate whether or not the skip can play offensive or defensive bowls - never, never under- estimate the importance of having a good, compatible leader in your side. They are the 'Jewel In The Crown' of any successful bowls team. IN FOCUS • Retired Victorian representative Steve Sullivan played more than 300 quality games as a lead for the state.