IMPROVE YOUR BOWLS

MOVING OUTDOORS with tips from 15 times world   champion Tony Allcock.

THE DELIVERY:  Never forget that the nose is a great aid for delivery. This may sound strange but putting the 'nose forward ' on delivery is a great help - the body will follow.
THE GRIP: I always carry two pockets of dusters - one pocket full to finish drying the bowl after I have taken the excess water off with a chamois leather and the other to dry my hand. I have to attempt to get my bowl as dry as possible in order to deliver correctly. Don't forget other aspects of gripping the bowl such as waxes, hand warmers, gloves and any other aid for keeping the hand flexible, dry and warm.
CHOICE OF BOWLS: The size of bowl is far more crucial than when playing in a warm building. A cold wet hand needs a size of bowl that is manageable . To test this, players need to try sample bowls with very cold, preferably wet hands. Hold the bowl and then turn the hand so that the back of the hand faces the sky. It will be extremely hard not to drop the bowl (so mind your feet ), but if the hand can keep the bowl in this position for more than four seconds then the size of the bowl is going to be fine.
MINDSET: One must acknowledge that the outdoor playing is definitely a challenge in itself. The way to approach this is to accept it despite overpowering frustration.Play it as it is and most importantly , keep it simple. Too many players step out of the indoor club onto a grass green try to play in a manner in which they have just left behind. It will not work.

These are extracts from Bowls International magazine. At leading newsagents or visit website: www.bowlsinternational.com

NATALIE MELMORE, Commonwealth Singles Champion,
tells us what she thinks makes a GOOD CLUB MEMBER

WITH the outdoor season drawing ever close, I have started to think about what makes a good club member. Not necessarily good in the sense of bowling ability, but in the sense of being able to give back to the club and be a valuable team member. Outdoor clubs often require assistance from members in order to run the club effectively and considering most clubs are run solely by volunteers it is not outrageous to expect, whatever your situation, to help out your club in some way during the season with some day-to-day tasks.
At my own club of King BC in Devon, we are relatively small in terms of our facilities, but have an higher than average membership of around 100 people. The majority of members pull their weight by taking their turn at tea or cleaning duty - or perhaps as being part of the committee, team of selectors or helping with ground works but as a member of a club like ours, what should you be reasonably expected to do ?

GET INVOLVED - As a worker myself, I think it is important to differentiate the expectations regarding a member who works full time compared to a retired member. That being said, yheir is no excuse for non-involvement whatever your work commitments. I cannot admit to being the most helpful member of Kings, but I certainly try to pull my weight where possible. Over the years I have helped organise various open days, been ladies captain, selector and have even cleaned the club a couple of times.

WHAT CAN BE DONE ? When you are a player who enjoys competitive bowls it is easy to avoid the perceived 'chore of club friendlies, but we must all remember that the revenue that the friendlies bring into the club are imperative, so by making yourself available for at least one a year ( I normally try to participate in in one game at the very start of the season) you are really helping out. You might even have some fun ! If you are a young member who works - why not try to help out with publicity for the club?  No doubt you use social media personally, these skills can be used to promote your club to local residents in order to try and attract new members or perhaps start a group on Facebook to create an open forum for current members to discuss issues that can be taken to the committee if necessary. Perhaps you are retired or only work part time? Could you use skills from your previous/current career that could be used successfully at the club, in PR, accounting or maybe sales ?
If you are club secretary or on the committee it would certainly be useful to try and find out about the personal skills  your members possess. Running a bowls club whether outdoors or indoors should be seen as a business and your members as the 'employees'. getting the best out of your members is a skill that should be used to the advantage of the club. If you guide members  into positions or 'work' they dislike you could potentially push them away. You will get the best out of people if you let them partake in the tasks that they enjoy.

DON'T JUST MOAN, DO SOMETHING. With club membership dwindling across the country, when speaking to club members, the overriding feeling is that members need to create solutions not problems. There will always be elements of your club that you would like to be improved but rather than being only negative about these things , why not help out to solve the problem. If don't like the way the club is run then join the committee. Don't like the green? You can't really moan about it unless you are willing to help improve it! As a nation we just love to moan, myself included, but moaning about these things at your club only creates a negative atmosphere and is probably one of the most unproductive characteristics you can possess as a member - unless you are prepared to help solve the problem. Another way to help out at the club, particularly if you are a successful player who might have appeared in the local news, is to help organise and/help to promote an open day. The best time of the year to start thinking about this would be in March to look towards an open day in April when you are less busy with your own national or club competitions and have spare time to commit to the task.
how much free time you have should probably dictate your level of involvement but we are all responsible for the success of our own club and ultimately our sport as a whole. If clubs are losing members then the sport we love will not survive. In being good club members, you are all ultimately helping our sport to evolve and prosper. do not let the management and the running of your club boil down to the same old faces - make a positive change and find out what you can do to help - I cannot promise it will always be enjoyable, but it will certainly be rewarding !

Reproduced from BOWLS INTERNATIONAL magazine. At leading newsagents, or go to www.bowlsinternational.com    







ELLEN FALKNER , England International and triple Commonwealth Games gold-medal winner visited  Stamford Indoor Bowls Club recently to promote the Australian-made Aero products she represents. Stamford's Press Officer, Bob Warters, who also plays outdoors at Ketton, asked her what are the particular skills that bowlers playing in a rink of four should work on. Here are her  answers which apply to outdoor bowls as well as indoors. (Picture by courtesy of Alan Romaine)

THE ROLE OF THE 'LEAD' OR No.1: " I am a great believer in the value of every single position in a rink of four and each position is just as important as another. If a lead is playing well they can give you an incredible start. They can give you an opportunity to build a 'head' of bowls and create a foundation to dominate the game. I am a great advocate of a lead finding the side of the rink that he or she is most comfortable and consistant with, forehand or backhand and stick to it. Similarly with jack length; it is important that as a rink, all team members agree and play the length to which they are most comfortable and which will give them the best possible start to score shots. If you need to change the jack length, then you can decide to do something drastic such as taking the mat up or you can be subtle by changing a mat's length difference up or back. So looking at it from a lead's perspective, you are not going to nail the jack every time. The key is to get your bowls within a foot or two to actually build the head by grouping the bowls round the jack." 

THE ROLE OF THE No. 2 :  " The position of No.2 in a rink is traditionally undervalued in my opinion. In fact this position, and in particularly in elite play at the top level, is a very difficult one and usually given to someone who is a good all-rounder, can play all the shots under pressure, is a consistent draw bowler and able to place positional bowls. In fact you are the only player on the rink who bowls without seeing the head. By that I mean that you can't really see accurately  (from the mat) how the head of bowls is building up, particularly as there may be bowls obstructing your view. Playing No. 2 is therefore very much about watching and learning from the bowls that have already been delivered and trusting your skip, when they give you instructions, then executing them with effectiveness to the best of your ability. In my opinion, a No. 2 can win you a game as they can turn a 'head' ( of bowls )around and re-shape a 'head' that might be going against you, quite early on in the process. 

THE ROLE OF THE No.3 :  "Playing at No. 3 you are almost expected to sacrifice your own game for the benefit of the rink as you are there to prepare the head for the skip. By this I mean, the No.3 will often be expected to play bowls to clear something out of the way or in the 'head' or get another bowl in the 'head', allowing the skip to play their shot. In some instances the No.3 may have to play a covering shot to minimise any potential shot the opposition will be considering or attack a head to reduce shots against. They may even be asked to block a shot, or trail a jack to either maximise a count or to take danger away. It is a very interesting position  because you need to be able to play all the shots effectively and have the mentality that you are there to prepare the 'head' for the skip to maximise the 'head' lie. And when the No.3's 'are up' ( standing alongside the skip at the head) their role is to have the drive and energy to keep the rink motivated and be the link between the skip and the front players. Playing No.3 is chiefly a supporting role to the skip but you will have all the shots, a real tactical awareness and be a great people person."    
 
THE ROLE OF THE SKIP:  "From a skip's perspective, yes you can win games and yes, you can save games, but for me a skip's role is not necessarily about where you position your own bowls, it is how you lead and manage your rink. It is about how you support your teammates. If you are a skip that can always get the best out of your team then your rink is always going to perform well and that gives you every possible chance of winning. The skip has to be a good tactician who can spot both threats and opportunities, take action when a 'head' is building up against them, call the right shots, read a head, and analyse patterns of play. Most of all, however, in my view the best skips are those whom, while earning the respect of their fellow players with shots they are capable of playing, can play well under pressure, be calm and collected and be a great leader by managing their rink of different characters and abilities and get the most from them."

(As told to Stamford Indoor Bowls Club press officer Bob Warters) 
 
For information about Aero bowls visit www.aerobowls.co.uk .