THE ROLL UP
Activities with family and friends may be taking centre stage this holiday season, with many of us having to take a leave of absence from lawn bowls and time spent on ‘the green’. This time of the year is usually the off-season either due to holiday breaks, family commitments or accessibility to bowling greens and clubs due to enforced closures in more recent times.
With New Year’s resolutions high on the agenda, why not make 2022 the year for focusing on your game, improving your knowledge and becoming the player you have always aspired to be. Hit the greens with these five important aspects to help you achieve those goals this new year.
THE IMPORTANT ENDS
Note: the numbering doesn’t mean that one is more important than another
1. Set achievable goals
While you get ready for getting back on the greens, think of what you want to achieve. Your main goals may be general, like making a certain grade, competing in a certain event or winning a tournament. However, smaller specific goals are easier to achieve and can build towards your bigger goal over the year.
Setting goals can be a great motivator and is crucial to your success as a bowler!
Really think about where your game falls short and what areas you would like to improve upon, this could be your smaller goals. Whether it be improving a certain shot type, improving game strategies and tactics, shot selection, or even setting aside time to practice on a regular basis. Write down a few small achievable goals that are realistic for what you expect out of the season this coming year. This is a great technique to use to continually review and improve on your performance and do even better than the year before.
When setting realistic goals, you should take into consideration your current ability level and overall game. Setting an unrealistic goal will only demotivate you and have a negative impact on your game. So be practical on what you are trying to achieve.
To get you started, I recommend that you start with reviewing last year’s performances and choose areas where you want to improve. For example if you want to be more consistent with draw shots, include specific draw drills in your purposeful practice sessions. If increasing mental toughness is what you are looking to improve, then certain sports psychology techniques can help you. Reviewing your previous game performances with coaches, selectors and peers can also aide in this process.
2. Record and track your progress
Each purposeful practice session is supposed to take you closer to your goal, but how will you know if you are improving unless you track your progress? So, make sure you record your on green sessions and implement a scoring system – we will delve deeper into scoring systems in the coming weeks.
We all have that main goal we want to achieve, however you should have intermediate milestones to make sure you are progressing in the right direction. This will also help you understand if your purposeful practice sessions are effective or whether you need to adjust and make some changes along the way.
3. Purposeful practice
Purposeful practice relates to the quality of the practice time, rather than just rolling bowls up and down the green and ticking the box for the weekly “roll up”. A purposeful practice session should focus on specific goals of improving performance by participating in specific drills relating to the area of improvement identified. It may be easy to just “go through the motions” during a “roll up”/practice session , but if your goal is to gain skills and become a better player, engaging in deliberate practice should be one of your objectives.
In many cases it can be a monotonous process with certain skill development/practice sessions, but this usually is as a result of the need for repetition of technique to ensure particular skills are perfected over time. We want to ensure that the end result is repeated automatically or instinctively under the pressure in competition. A bowler determined to perfect skills and take their game to the next level, must be prepared to put the hard work in with deliberate purposeful practice and ensure it is incorporated into their sessions.
4. Good head space
Many sports require a degree of mental toughness in order to be competitive and lawn bowls is no exception. For instance, those moments in a game where “luck” is against you and you find it hard to regain momentum.
More people are realising that even just a basic understanding of sports psychology can greatly excel their game development and therefore want to understand the role psychology plays in their performance. After all, it is the mind that directs so much of our decision making, by connecting meaning and purpose to specific goals.
Sports psychology has traditionally been used to help athletes develop mental toughness in challenging environments, create mindfulness habits for focus, and establish a connection to values and specific goals. But there is so much more we can gain through the use of psychological principles. What drives bowlers to perform? What happens mentally through the process of practice? And importantly, what travels through their thoughts during difficult, pressurised and challenging moments in practice and competition?
5. Improve flexibility
Lawn bowls does not require the physical fitness of most sports however a fundamental level of physical fitness can help game improvement and consistency. One of the essential components of being physically fit is flexibility. This is the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion and is arguably the most neglected component of fitness among the general population. It is a highly adaptable fitness component and one can reap the benefits of flexibility training at any age. Flexibility is just as important for a consistent delivery technique as well as completing everyday activities with ease.
Engaging in regular flexibility exercises can assist with increased joint mobility, better posture, decreased back pain and a lower risk of injury. These are all positive outcomes which aide in a consistent delivery technique and allow the bowler to maintain such technique over many years of playing.
Focusing on these five topics in relation to the improvement of your game can be a great start to the year and help you gain valuable tools and abilities to kickstart your practice sessions and work towards those 2022 goals. Over the coming weeks we will deep dive into the above topics and help you excel in your game development.
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