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Bowls In Focus : November 2011
Bowls In Focus 31 Australia’s most successful-ever bowler on the international stage Ian Schuback and I first started doing three-day live-in style bowls coaching camps way back in 1996, when ‘Celebrity Bowls Camps’ first took Australian bowls development into a new era. And a tour of these camps, like a circus of stars featuring many of Australia’s best bowlers, will swing through Victoria early next year, probably in February or March. Ironically, our very first camp was held down south, at Mulwala Country Club just over the Murray River from Yarrawonga, and I can recall that one of the first ‘students’ was Mary-Anne Spizer, who would later represent Victoria and Australia with distinction. The name ‘Celebrity’ was taken on because all of our invited coaches were current or former international stars. Names synonymous with bowls such as Rob Parrella, Peter Rheuben, Rex Johnston, Karen Murphy, Daphne Shaw, Peter Belliss, Bryce Stewart, Ian Taylor and of course our inaugural coaches, Jim Yates and Betty Herbertson. My first experience of this type of coaching concept was way back in 1985, when as a junior I was invited to the very first five-day coaching camp held at the luxurious Kooralbyn Valley Resort in the Gold Coast hinterland. Hosted by Aussie great, Ken Williams, this resort was an oasis in the desert, with magnificent greens and facilities. It was such a tremendous week for me at the Kooralbyn camp, meeting so many interesting and like-minded competitive bowlers and we all learned so much from the five intensive days of international standard tuition that I couldn’t wait to go back. And so I did, only six months later, when the then world singles champion and Kiwi legend, Peter Belliss, was the guest coach for a week. Needless to say, when Shooey and I started Celebrity Bowls Camps we implemented a lot of what we learnt from the success of the Kooralbyn Valley camps. We then added our own tweaks and flavour so that our individual philosophies were epitomised throughout the theme of the camps. One of our most important philosophies was to refrain from saying ‘This is the way it’s done !’ It was very important that the coaches all individually share how ‘they do it’. We needed participants to keep an open mind and realise that no one method was the ‘holy grail’. Over the years, we have all seen a plethora of techniques, styles and methods. It was important that we help individual bowlers tap into their own natural talent to discover what really worked for them. We wanted to harness the ability that was already present and go to work on improving what was missing. Over the last 10 years, Shooey and I have both had regular communication from many of our 400 past participants pleading to bring the coaching camps back. In recent years, that voice has only grown from the rank and file, eager to learn some of the secrets that we brought to the table as head Australian team coaches over the recent golden period. So now the camps are coming back to satisfy that insatiable thirst for knowledge, direction and expertise, at a level that the average competitive bowler cannot acquire easily. At the same time, we are seeing many club coaches apply to attend these coaching camps as they value tremendous knowledge and the professional development to be gained and the new learned skills that they can then take back to their respective clubs. A very successful three-day camp was held a few months ago at Port Macquarie NSW and we are going to continue running a combination of these together with a series of one-day Master Classes. Former Australian representative Shane Globits and I have a Queensland tour booked from 14-16 December and have locked in three one-day Master Classes at a venue in Northern NSW and also at Helensvale and Mooloolaba. The one-day Master Classes are certainly action-packed, with over five hours on the green and an hour or two inside having important conversations particularly on improving the mental side of a student’s game. For many club players the mental side of the game is their Achilles Heel, so we work hard on some of the more common weaknesses like developing self- confidence, maintaining concentration and playing under pressure. Early in the first session we go through what I believe are the ‘10 non-negotiables’, with regards to delivery and technique if you want to become a champion. While there are always exceptions to any rule, with my 25 years experience playing with and against some of the world’s greats, I’ve seen many ‘patterns’ in relation to delivery and technique that can mean the big difference from being a champ or a chump. Other noticeable topics during camps include game tactics, strategy and shot selection, perfect practice routines plus greatly improving your consistency on windy days, together with other key sports psychology issues that are must’s for on-green success. Players of all abilities are welcome and encouraged to come along. The dates for the Victorian leg of the tour should be confirmed very soon for either February or early March. As always, email me at camcurtis@optusnet. com.au for further details or call 0412 089 833. Celebrity Bowls Camps Former national coach Cameron Curtis was the architect of Australia’s most successful team ever and spearheaded its domination of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Early next year his renowned ‘Celebrity Bowls Camps’ are coming to Victoria... The Circus Is Coming To Town • Early days as former greats Rob Parrella and Gil Steinhardt give useful advice to this young prospect from Darwin during a coaching session.